Which Tech Devices Do Students Value for Different Academic Demands?

Senior Editor

A nationwide survey offers a reminder that the value students place on various types of technology devices—such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones—hinges largely on the academic task those students are being asked to perform.

When students want to create a presentation, nearly 70 percent of them said laptops were their first choice, while tablets came in a distant second, cited by 31 percent of respondents.

But when it comes to taking notes in class, there was more of an even split, with 46 percent choosing laptops, and 45 percent selecting tablets. Reading a book or article? Forty-four percent said digital readers were their first choice, while 41 percent favored tablets.

Those newly released findings could give companies a sense of what kinds of technologies that K-12 system officials—and individual families making purchases—believe will best match various classroom tasks. The results are included in “Speak Up 2012,” a survey conducted by Project Tomorrow, a California-based nonprofit that attempts to improve students’ academic preparation through technology and other means.

More than 360,000 K-12 students were surveyed, in what Project Tomorrow officials say represents the “largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder voices” on digital education resources.

“[T]oday’s students are functioning as a digital advance team for the rest of us,” the authors of the report accompanying the survey say. “Their perspective on the correlation between academic task and appropriate devices is representative of their more sophisticated understanding of the value of using technology within learning.”

Students recognize that mobile devices have strengths and shortcomings, and are useful for very different tasks. The results are a reminder, the authors say, that “identifying the ‘perfect’ mobile device to accomplish all academic tasks is a foolhardy exercise.”

Full results are below:

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