When you look at today's technology and software, it may be hard to remember that the age of computing began only in the 1970s. Since then, electronic items have gotten smaller, faster, and more powerful with each passing month. Smartphones, smartwatches, and much more are readily available. These technologies are making their way to the college campus, and 83% of students asked in a recent survey said they thought tablets would transform learning. It's a great time to make sure you're outfitted with the right wireless device for learning.
Getting Around on Wireless Campuses
Virtually all modern college campuses have a wireless network for students to enjoy. Internet access is considered crucial to doing assignments and reports. Some top schools, such as Purdue, have even developed their own collections of mobile apps for students to use. Purdue’s range of custom software includes a program called Course Signals that alert students who are in danger of failing a class. Campuses with more wireless technology are more enticing to students, of course, but a wireless network of one kind or another is practically universal.
Smartphones, Tablets, and E-Readers
There are many different mobile devices out there, all empowered with different apps, that can help with learning. Smartphones are the smallest and the most versatile; good for research and communication, they are usually not ideal for working on assignments. Tablets provide much of the same functionality of smartphones but usually lack the ability to take voice calls and are much larger. Because of their size, they can be more appropriate for typing up college assignments but may be unwieldy for some situations. E-readers are more specialized devices that are especially good for reading and can give students access to their textbooks from anywhere.
Knowing Whether to Buy
There is a mobile device to fit every need, and thousands of apps can help with college. The decision of whether or not to go forward with a purchase is a personal one that depends on what technology is available and how you plan to use it. A tablet provides versatile functionality for students with general coursework that calls for both reading and writing. Art and design students find smartphones great for basic research but usually need powerful laptops to keep up with their projects. All students can benefit from a lightweight e-reader to replace course texts. If you plan to replace your desktop computer entirely, though, you’ll probably need a laptop.
Doing Right by Your Wallet
Mobile devices can save you money, but not all of them will do so. Although most apps are priced for impulse buying, some can be very expensive. There are also other potential hidden costs to be aware of. Smartphones can be $100 to start, but be careful about your selection of data and voice plans, which can add another $100 a month. Tablets run from $200 to $400, but be sure you need the mobility of a tablet instead of the functionality of a laptop: A good portable keyboard for a tablet can cost another $100. Expect to pay $300 for a mid-range laptop. As for e-readers, a basic one can be as little as $50 in today’s market, and texts you purchase on an e-reader are usually 30% to 50% less expensive than the very same book in its original paper format.
Classroom Device Etiquette
Virtually all colleges allow devices in class, and some may include charging stations for use while in a lecture. The main rule to remember when dealing with devices in class is to minimize the distraction to others. Ensure that your device will not make noise: For laptops and tablets, that means muting all software, while phones should be set to vibrate. Do not answer calls, send messages, or visit websites not related to the class. In a class of fewer than 15 people and in classes that are heavily discussion-based, remember that professors may discourage any device use. Never use a device to record a lecture without asking for permission first.