Apr 26 2023

Students Speak: Tablets Are Great, Especially When They Stay Charged on the Go

We asked students in higher education to name the one tool they would appreciate most from their administration. Here’s what they said.

Students are the lifeblood of higher education. All of the energy that faculty, staff and administrators devote to their universities is directed toward improving the student experience, student outcomes and lifelong student success. Without students, there would be no universities, no IT departments and no technology decisions to be made. Engaged student bodies bring campuses to life and invigorate classroom discussion, whether that’s done in a lecture hall or through a computer screen.

It is in that spirit that EdTech launches Students Speak, a short series that seeks to connect with the young people at the heart of higher education. When we last turned to students for their perspective, we created the Remote Learning Diaries, a series of student dispatches from the early days of the pandemic about their experiences in the new remote learning world.

Now that remote, hybrid and HyFlex learning are the norm, and at a time when institutions are increasingly fighting to maintain their enrollments, we’ve sought input from students at colleges and universities across the country. We asked a simple question that could help inform the path forward for decision-makers at those institutions and others: If your university were to provide you with one piece of technology, what would you choose?

Here are some of their answers in the second of a series of stories coming to EdTech through the end of this month. View the first story here and the second here.

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Aida Mulugeta | Virginia Tech University

Getting through college requires all kinds of gadgets, because technology has become integral to our lives.

To survive your first semester, the basics you’ll need include a laptop, charger and maybe headphones. Much of the rest is usually available through universities as pay-to-use technology, such as printers and digital textbooks. Still, the demand for tools such as tablets and speakers is rising, both due to their academic benefits and their convenience.

Because all of these devices are important and they all need power, if Virginia Tech were to offer to buy one piece of technology for me, I would pick a wireless charging station or portable charger for Windows and Apple products.

All of the tools average college students have — including laptops, tablets, smart watches, headphones and more — require charging at some point every day, and that usually requires access to an outlet. With a portable charger, you can power up your device even when you can’t access a wall outlet. That makes staying connected while on campus all day a lot easier. You have everything on the go.

DIG DEEPER: Learn how universities provide technology and support for student-athletes.

Even with access to an outlet, it is hard to charge all these devices every day, and sometimes you may accidentally forget to do so. Because these technologies play such an important a role in student life, having one go dead could have a big impact academically. I have had to walk 30 minutes back to my dorm because my MacBook dies quickly, and I need it charged for class. As devices get slimmer, they are getting more powerful, but that requires a lot of energy.

Implementing charging stations around campus, at places like the library and even on the sidewalks, would also be beneficial.

As for portable chargers, these inexpensive pieces of technology are valuable to students on and off campus who do not have time to run around to find an outlet. It allows students to be immersed in class without worrying about a device that’s unable to perform.

Mikenna Lytle | Texas Tech University


Watch to learn how the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 can transform the student experience


Janice Hong | University of Maryland

If my university offered to buy me one piece of technology, I would ask for a tablet. While laptops are widely used in classrooms today, I believe that a tablet can be a useful tool that can help students learn beyond paper and pencil. Here are some of the reasons I would ask for a tablet.

Multifunctionality: Tablets can be used for many different tasks, such as taking and typing notes, browsing the internet, watching lectures and displaying content. Students can also multitask with additional technologies.

Portability: Students are constantly moving around, and the weight of textbooks and paper can place a heavy load on their shoulders. Tablets are lightweight and easy to carry, making them a convenient option for students on the go. Students can hold all of their textbooks and notes in one device and work from anywhere.

READ MORE: What technology can’t college students live without?

Price: If students do not have the money to buy laptops, tablets can be a good alternative. Textbooks can be accessed through a tablet and even may be easier to use. Choosing a tablet may also be more cost-effective compared with paper options.

I use my Apple iPad every day, and it has been one of the most useful technologies I have ever owned. The iPad has changed how I take notes and made my past notes accessible for reference. I believe all students should have access to tablets to enhance their learning.

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