It seems you can’t open an education publication these days without seeing a headline about the latest use for the iPad in the classroom, the newest education app for the iPhone, or how the big educational publishers are ramping up production of digital textbooks here in the U.S.
While it’s easy to dismiss these education technology trends as “bleeding edge” and assume that today’s students aren’t prepared or interested to go mobile with their learning experience, the kids tell a different story. They’re not alone, either – their parents, who pay big bucks for your products and services, are in complete agreement, and ready to support their students’ technological wishes with cold, hard cash.
According to new research by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard K-12, more than 60 percent of 6th-12th graders report that allowing them to use their own mobile devices would improve the use of technology in schools. Not surprisingly, this number rose to 78 percent among students with smartphones. In addition, a surprisingly high number of parents – 62 percent – indicated they would “likely” be willing to purchase a mobile device for their child’s educational use.
CB&A president Charlene Blohm doesn’t see this as a surprise. “This trend towards mobile has been a growing movement for about two school years now. Initial resistance to having student-owned devices checking in to a school’s network has dimmed somewhat as bond issue after bond issue has failed across the country.”
What does this new research tell companies selling educational software products and services to the K-12 education industry? Go smart or go home! If your products aren’t available to the growing population of mobile-enabled students, you could be left behind as increasing numbers of smartphones and mobile-enabled, education-based technologies infiltrate the school systems – with or without the blessing of school district administrators or other technological gatekeepers.
What kinds of products and services do students want to access on their mobile devices? While most report they’d use the devices for online research and communicating with classmates, more than half said they’d also use them to take notes or record lectures, receive academic e-mail reminders, collaborate on class projects, organize their work, and even communicate with teachers via instant messages, text messages, or chats.
Chances are your products would benefit from such connectivity, so how are you preparing for this mobile revolution? Ask yourself these three questions to get a better feel for your company’s mobile preparedness:
- Would students benefit from using our product anytime and anywhere?
- Can students currently access our products or services on their mobile phones without sacrificing on content or the quality of the product?
- Is our online presence compatible with the most popular mobile and smartphone technologies?
- Would a smartphone app make our product more valuable to students?
Now is the time to consider adding mobile- and smartphone-enabled services to your product line if you haven’t done so already – students want these technologies now, but school districts are still a little behind the ball, so you haven’t missed the bus quite yet. But in a matter of months, more and more districts will be removing barriers to mobile and smartphone use in school. When that happens, you’ll want your business to be prepared – not left behind.