About a year ago we surveyed our students about the technology they bring to campus. We learned that around 65 percent had a smartphone (which was consistent with national averages for community college students at the time). We also discovered that a fair number of students used their phone as their primary Internet connection. A little under 20 percent used their phone as a modem / hotspot – connecting their laptops and tablets to the web via their 3G/4G connections.
There has been a lot of discussion lately on the topic of BYOD (bringing your own devices) to campus. I remember back several years ago when colleges were seeking grants to purchase iPods for all of their students. Very quickly many schools discovered their students had acquired an iPod even before they could secure the funding – same thing happened again with tablets. The adoption rate for mobile technology oftentimes advances faster than we are able to anticipate the needs of our students.
The latest gadgets to come to market include smartglasses and the smartwatch. These appliances are actually extensions of the phone. Using bluetooth technology they talk to the smartphone in the same way you might pair your phone with your car. Common features of both include checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and text messages – some gadgets also allow you check the weather, use Google maps and provide some GPS functionality.
Be forewarned though, before you run out and purchase all these gadgets, you might want to give some thought to how they might actually improve your life. IMHO, technology should make your life easier – not more complex. Still, this will be an interesting trend to keep an eye on. It seems likely in the very near future we can expect to use our phones as a sort of mobile server allowing us to interface with our technology using gestures, voice, vision – who knows, maybe our feet – like with the first “smart” phone.