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Students Say Tablets Will Transform College, Though Most Don’t Own Tablets

More than two-thirds of a large group of college students say that tablet computers will change the way students learn, according to survey results released today. The Pearson Foundation sponsored the survey of 1,214 college students, as well as 200 high-school seniors who are heading to college, and found overwhelming interest in the devices.

Most of the students were not speaking from experience: Only 7 percent of the college students and 4 percent of the high school seniors owned one. Still, 69 percent of the college students said that tablets will transform higher education, and 48 percent said tablets will replace textbooks—at least as we currently understand textbooks—within the next five years. The survey was conducted for the foundation this March by Harris Interactive, which weighted the sample so it was representative of the American college population in terms of income, ethnicity, geography, and other factors.

As for the actual tablet owners in the survey, 73 percent said they liked digital formats more than print for reading textbooks. Only 32 percent of nonowners felt the same way. But, over all, the survey group was excited about reading digital textbooks.

That attitude may change once they try to study with tablets for an exam. Several pilot projects with tablets have found that students are frustrated with the difficulties in adding notes to digital books. But they still liked the machines. In the Pearson survey, nearly 20 percent of college students said they intend to buy a tablet in the next six months.

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