Last year, mobile access to the Internet overtook access by laptop or desktop computers. CNN Money reported that, “Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States in January. Apps made up 47% of Internet traffic and 8% of traffic came from mobile browsers.” These numbers have continued to rise each month throughout the year.
While the numbers above reflect general consumer use, it is becoming more common for both teachers and students to have more than one mobile device in school. Educational use of mobile technology has trailed consumer use in the past, but that is changing quickly. Schools are converting to wireless networks to handle the influx of mobile devices, school-owned as well as BYOD. While tablets and their touch technology still prevail in the lower grades, smartphones and netbooks increasingly dominate use in middle and upper grades.
As recently as last year, Apple led the K-12 market with their installed base of iPad tablets, claiming 94% of mobile devices in schools were theirs. However, Forbes reported that Q3 2014 found Google Chromebooks overtaking shipments of iPads into K-12 schools for the first time. Google shipped 715,500 Chromebooks compared to 702,000 iPads.
There are three primary reasons why Chromebooks have every chance of making this a permanent shift.
- Chromebooks average $199 each compared to the iPad air model which costs schools $379 each.
- Google provides an entire ecosystem to support K-12 with their Google Apps for Education program that includes management and productivity tools in addition to the apps.
- Without an integrated keyboard, iPad users are at a disadvantage for complex content creating and taking online, high-stakes assessments.
Experts believe that more than half of social media consumption is now happening on mobile devices. With the evolution toward the “social” web, the importance of ensuring your website is optimized for mobile access has never been greater. Literally everyone who has a mobile device also has access to the leading mobile browsers: Google, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft. Access to the mobile web is coming primarily through apps but also through these four browsers.
There are literally thousands of educational apps available to teachers and students through the Apple and Google App Stores. One of the drivers in use of apps is the goal of personalizing the learning experience for each student. Encouraging students to take charge of their learning, to explore independently, and collaborate with others is facilitated by 24/7 mobile access to the Internet.
The important takeaways here are:
- Mobile access to the Internet will continue to grow with the use of apps and mobile browser search, so make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
- If you haven’t yet developed an app, you should consider doing so as the use of apps leads mobile access by a considerable margin.
- Even though Chromebooks appear to be taking the lead in mobile device use in schools, smart providers will ensure that their website and content can be easily accessed from all leading devices.
- Many older students and teachers have a personal smartphone in addition to a second mobile device such as tablet or netbook. It is quite likely they will access your content from multiple devices and should have a consistent experience across their devices.
How are you optimized for mobile access to your products and services?