As a developer of educational apps for mobile devices, I decided that it's time for me to know a little bit more about the market situation and the future of mobile devices, more specifically, tablets in education. I started doing some research and was quite surprised by the results.
In general, the prevailing thoughts are:
- tablets are “transforming the way we teach and learn” (1)
- the “tablets will act as a catalyst for ushering a new, technologically driven educational order… that will be comparable to that of Gutenberg’s printing press in its long-term social impact”; (2)
- Mobile devices are here to stay.
Why there are such high expectations for tablets in education:
- Powerful creative tools, interactive textbooks, a universe of apps and content.
- Relatively low costs.
- Tablets are small and mobile, easy and handy to use everywhere.
- Tablets are well positioned as a general consumer product for use by children in many areas, for example, language learning, math practice, test preparation, simulation and game-based learning.
- “Mobile technologies have the capacity stimulate a redefinition of what constitutes a learning ‘space’, away from the constraints of fixed place and time, towards a conceptualization based on connecting people with each other and information, through virtual collaborative spaces and communities which are highly fluid, and not bounded by time and location.” (3)
- Tablets enable multitasking: the students are able to read, write, draw, send emails, and create audio and video files (etc.) with the same device at the same time.
Tablets are experiencing exceptionally strong interest among education stakeholders such as school managers, teachers, government agencies, parents and students. Private and public schools, along with kindergartens, are a large and growing market for tablets. One example: based on International Data Corporation (IDC) research, Apple Sold 2.5 Million iPads to US Schools in 2013.
Per a market analysis was done by CRO of Ambient Insight (4) there is a new level in Mobile Learning: “Mobile Learning has exited the ‘market creation’ phase and has entered the ‘value creation’ phase of the product lifecycle.” 'Educational tablets' became the primary computing devices meant for students and teachers in many countries. For example, in the USA almost one-third of students in grades 4-12 already own a tablet. There are two main consumer groups for tablets’ applications: private customers and educational institutions (basically, private and public schools).
I collected some data on the educational tablet market in an effort to reflect the data from all around the globe. Here are some of the results:
- The US is now the top buying country of Mobile Learning.
- The availability and use of technology is well established in US educational institutions and continues to evolve rapidly across all areas.
- Apple Sold 2.5 Million iPads to US Schools in 2013.
- Percentage of Americans ages 12 to 64 who own or use a tablet owned by someone else in household
2011: 20%; 2012: 33%; 2013: 52%; 2014: 64% (proj.).
- mobile learning market: the US is the top consumer in the world, with the market for Mobile Learning products and services reaching $632.2 million in 2009 and demand forecast reaching $1.4 billion by 2014.
- One of a few iPad educational projects: July 2013. SRI International has been awarded a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant to conduct a study of a new elementary school mathematics curriculum in 52 West Virginia schools.
- The Brazilian Ministry of Education is set to spend a serious amount of cash on deploying tablets to local teachers. According to various reports, it plans to purchase and deploy more than 460,000 tablets in 2014 and to distribute them to teachers from the sixth to ninth grade in public schools
- A computer for every child is now a tablet for every child, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at a meeting of the Public Council for the “Computer for Every Child” Project.
- The tablet trend continues in much the same way as in the U.S. According to research by Media Technology Monitor, 26% of Canadians owned a tablet device in 2013. iPad continued to reign supreme over the Canadian tablet landscape, with almost two-thirds of Canadian tablet owners choosing to buy an iPad.
- West Vancouver Secondary School is phasing in mobile devices for its high school students, becoming the first school in the district to require iPads or similar tablet computers in the classroom. The tablets will be requested for students in Grade 8 and 9 and encouraged for those in Grade 10, according to the school district when school starts in September. West Vancouver Secondary is the first of three high schools in the district that will require students to use mobile tablets this September. Sentinel High School is expected to announce its plan soon, followed by Rockridge Secondary. (data from 4/14)
- 90 percent of students in the elementary schools already has a device and access technology in classrooms.
- On May 16th i2013 n Tokyo, Japan, Qualcomm Wireless Reach and Renaissance High School held an event to announce the Phase I results and Phase II plans for the “3G Smartphone / Tablet x Digital Textbook” project, which will provide students with tablets so they can learn 24/7. Phase II will also include the development of new educational content for tablets that utilize National Geographic and other educational s content provider materials.
- February 2014: Tokyo-based Smart Education, a developer of educational mobile apps for kids, has raised $5.4 million to take kids e-learning apps global
- The Indian government envisions all the country’s children, rich and poor, studying from tablets. It plans to make the Aakash tablet, the world’s cheapest, available to 220 million students nationwide at a hugely subsidized price of $20, starting with college students (per data on 7/13)
- The tablet market is predicted to see growth rates of 40 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. It expects 1.6 million units to be shipped this year, increasing to 7.3 million by 2016(data published at 1/13)
- Radical Reform: June 2013. Dutch iPad Schools Seek to Transform Education; some of the ideas that may have occurred to Jobs are now on display in the Netherlands. Eleven "Steve Jobs schools" will open in August, with Amsterdam among the cities that will be hosting such a facility. Some 1,000 children aged four to 12 will attend the schools, without notebooks, books or backpacks. Each of them, however, will have his or her own iPad
- The bidding process to purchase 709824 tablets for Mexican elementary school students has ended. (3/14)
- Since 2010, China has become one of the countries with the highest mobile learning growth rate (over 60%). By 2015, China would be the second largest buying country of mobile learning products after the US.
- Peru Community Schools has purchased 1,100 new Microsoft Surface Pro Hybrid Tablets that will be available to students and teachers. The tablets will be used in the junior and high schools and replace the district’s aging laptops used in classrooms. Among apps that Peruvian educators want to use on the iPads is Long Multiplication by Esa Helttula.
- Although I was not able to find educational projects in Vietnam, the Tablet Market in Vietnam shows steady growth. Vietnam is suddenly Apple Inc's hottest market
- There are examples of whole schools embracing Mobile Education, such as the Cedars School of Excellence which have issued all pupils an iPad and over 1000 learners in Essa Academy in Bolton have an iPod Touch.
- Many schools in Sweden are currently testing the use of tablets as a teaching tool. For example, the preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads — one for every two children
- Sormet-project (Everyday learning experiences in the integrated environments) in Finland started its first iPad-pilots in October 2011. The school that was recruited for the user study was Päivänkehrä school in Espoo.
- Mobiluck project with the use of iPads supports the studies of upper secondary school students. The project will stretch into 2015, and 6 secondary schools are involved.
- plans to convert all textbooks to digital by 2015 and by the same date also to replace all textbooks with tablets at school. South Korea invests the US $2 billion to convert textbooks to digital with links to various multimedia content and provide free tablets for students from low-income families
- Australian tablet sales reach 4.8m in 2013 & the education sector is to spend $2.7 billion on Information Computer Technology in 2013.
- Department of Education started a Special project in 2011, “iPads in Special Education Trial" which determined the benefit of the iPad as an assistive device for students with multiple impairments.
- NEARLY 14,000 Queensland secondary school students will be the recipients of the largest deployment of Windows 8 tablets in Australia and one of the biggest in the world.
- Per IDC report (April 2013), iPads and tablet PCs are increasingly becoming ‘digital school bags’.
- One Tablet Per Child: Thai government plans to by 900,000 tablet computers made by Chinese manufacturers (ZTE, Huawei, and Lenovo )
- Colombia’s ICT Ministry has set aside nearly $45 million USD to purchase tablet computers for students learning in government-run schools.
The market for mobile educational apps is going through an Ed-Tech Boom and the developers’ success depends on their ability to meet the teachers’ needs. According to several publications, there are market gaps between “types of products that teachers said they need” and “the products that are available... " (5)
About the Author
Tatyana Belyavskaya taught on the college level in St. Petersburg, Russia for more than 20 years and moved to the USA in 1991. Over the next 20 years she as a software engineer, Web designer, database administrator, and an information systems analyst. Prompted by their grandkids’ math questions and problems, Tatyana and her husband (who is the software developer) decided to reach more children, helping them to master basic math skills. They founded Bel Math Apps and have published tablet, phone and desktop applications for arithmetic practice. Tatyana likes to read and travel.
Links to references:
(3) Looking to the future: M-learning with the iPad (http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/5050/Looking%20to%20the%20future.pdf?)