Mobile Devices, Textbooks Gain Traction In Schools

Tablet-Nexus-AMater Dei officials now require students and faculty for the 2012 and 2013 school year to use Apple's iPad 2 as part of the "iBuild The Future" curriculum.

The mandate from one of California's top Catholic educators requires each student to rent the device from the school for $350 yearly.

Mater Dei became one of dozens of schools in the state this year supporting a curriculum based on digital textbooks and mobile devices. eBooks continue to gain popularity on tablets like Google's Nexus 7, Microsoft's Surface, Hewlett-Packard's Slate 8 and Apple's iPad.

Some teachers remain hesitant to adopt digital textbooks, but there are signs of a gradual shift. While 36% of community members nationwide want the shift to e-books in the classroom, 28% are okay with the switch.

Tablet use continues to increase in schools, but a survey conducted of the community reveals that 13% of community members still don't think they belong in the classroom. Just 17% said it's okay for kids to use tablets in an elementary school classroom, 20% said they should wait until middle school, 31% think tablets belong in high school, and 19% feel that students should wait until college.

The majority of survey participants believe laptops should remain out of schools until high school, and 7% think they should remain out of all classrooms. 

About 18% think elementary school remains a good grade level to introduce laptops in the curriculum at school, followed by 25% in middle school, 33% in high school, and 18% in college.

When it comes to texting in classrooms, 18% of SodaHead members believe U.S. schools should allow texting in the classroom, 53% do not, and 29% believe it should be allowed in an emergency. About 28% believe schools should ban mobile phones, compared with 41% who believe they should be allowed in schools if they remain turned off, and 25% who said they should not be banned, calling the act a "necessity."

The movement to digital could give brands another chance to get in front of students through sponsorships for school materials and devices. While public schools in California cannot mandate the use of mobile devices, many teachers require students to have online access to sites listing class requirements. The digital move saves the education system money. Teachers require students to go online to check homework schedules, submit school projects and print handouts, as part of a cutback in material fees.

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