Mobile Learning

Survey Reveals Students' Mobile Device Preferences

A new survey released this week, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson, has found that student ownership of mobile devices is increasing, but WiFi connectivity at school lags behind what kids have at home.

The survey, conducted online between Feb. 7 and March 11, 2015, asked 2,274 students in grades 4 through 12 about the devices they are using for learning.

One key finding was that smartphone ownership among students in grades 4 through 12 has risen since last year and increases with grade level. For example, eight in 10 high school students reported owning a smartphone. The number of students using smartphones in class increased from 44 percent to 53 percent.

And yet, the largest number of high school students (38 percent) said they prefer laptops and Chromebooks for learning.

When asked about learning on tablets, about 50 percent of elementary and middle schools students said they “most enjoy working on a tablet,” while fewer than 25 percent of high school students agreed. Nearly 80 percent of elementary students reported using a tablet regularly, compared with 66 percent in 2014. Almost 70 percent of middle school students used a tablet regularly in 2015, compared to 58 percent in 2014. About 50 percent of high school students were regular tablets users, up from 42 percent in 2014.

The 16 percent of students in grades 4 through 12 who said they used two or more mobile devices during a typical school day mostly use laptops (73 percent), followed by smartphones (68 percent) and tablets (66 percent).

Students who reported using only one device during a typical school day were most likely to have laptops (59 percent). Only 24 percent of single-device users had tablets, and 15 percent said that they used only smartphones for learning.

The percentage of students learning in a 1-to-1 environment rose to 19 percent, up from 16 percent in 2014. Alfred Binford, managing director of Pearson North America, commented, “Schools are responding to students’ enthusiasm for mobile learning by integrating the devices into the classroom, yet in many instances, students lack a critical tool to make those mobile devices most effective: WiFi access. To truly realize the power of mobile learning, it is crucial that we support schools as they extend WiFi connectivity to their students.”

The numbers back Binford up. Nearly everyone surveyed (96 percent) reported having WiFi access at home, but only 68 percent said that they can connect to WiFi at school.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.