iPads in schools: ‘The last generation with backpacks’?


Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a senior editor at Fortune.

In survey, 16% of school tech directors expect to have 1 tablet per student within 5 years

Whether counting heads at the Apple Store or buttonholing cell phone users at the Mall of America, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster is the master of the small survey that may or may not be significant.

His latest: A survey of 25 educational technology directors at a conference on integrating technology in the classroom. "While our sample is small," he writes in a note to clients issued Monday, "so is the population of IT decision makers in the education field in the US."

And what did he discover? Among his findings:

  • 100% were testing or deploying iPads in their schools. 0% were testing or deploying Android tablets
  • Their schools currently have an average of one computer for every 10 students
  • Nearly half (12) expect to eventually deploy one computer per child; two of their schools already do
  • More than a third (9) expect to deploy one tablet per child; one of them already does

Given the huge problems facing America's schools, it's a slender thread on which to base a vision of broad educational reform. (Munster quotes outgoing Apple retail chief Ron Johnson, who has suggested that the current crop of students might be "the last generation with backpacks.")

But Munster is probably correct that the overwhelming preference for iPads over tablets running Google's (goog) Android reflects the power of Apple's (aapl) first mover advantage. He writes:

"We also see a trend in education (which is mirrored in the enterprise) that familiarity with Apple devices among students (or employees) is causing a demand pull within institutions to also provide Apple devices."

Below: The details of Munster's survey results.

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