Monday, 12 November 2012

Tablets and Textbooks:

I had the pleasure of being able to use a Samsung Galaxy Tab for one week as a part of a "Tablet Challenge" from Rogers. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a new 10.1" tablet that has 4G speed capabilities as well as WiFi. It uses the Android platform and has access to Google Play as well as the Android Market for apps, games and music. It would be comparable to an iPad in terms of size and weight.

My task was to try to use a tablet for as much of my school work as possible to see if it's possible for tablets to replace textbooks and computers in the future. The Rogers Innovation Report noted that 35% of Youth believe tablets can replace textbooks within the next 5 years!  I was excited to give this a try, especially with my program which is very dependent on PowerPoint presentations.

Is it possible? Do you think tablets are going to be a required item in schools soon?

First, the positives:

  • I enjoyed having the 4G capability and immediate access to the internet. This was great to bring up quick facts or additional research I needed for class notes.

  • The tablet is extremely useful for presentations. I had two presentations last week and was able to incorporate it into both by using it as a guide, as well as playing music. The speakers are great quality and I was able to play music in a 25 person class room with no trouble.

  • I was able to view PowerPoint/Office/Excel files on the tablet while simultaneously having a web browser open to make notes.

The one major thing lacking was the compatibility between PowerPoint presentations and the Polaris Office that is provided on the Tab. Unfortunately, while I could read PowerPoints, I could not edit them or add notes without altering the format of the slides which prevents me from downloading them to my laptop. This created a bit of trouble later in the week when I went to get the files out of my drop box (which is a great app I highly recommend!).

Overall, I found myself gravitating back towards my laptop for creating presentations, notes and editing note slides. While the tablet was great fun things, such as watching Netflix or using twitter, it did not fit well into my science heavy program.

I personally don't think we are there yet where textbooks could be replaced by a tablet or a laptop. For my program specifically, we don't use textbooks everyday, rather they are a reference to supplement the lectures we receive. The textbooks I do own are the "old-fashioned" hardcover - so I tend to leave them at home. Most of my textbooks are not available for online use or a textbook I could download to have on my computer which leaves me little choice. I think in the future this is something the publishers should look towards, perhaps by offering an "online rental" such as they have in the US, or an online subscription where you would be entitled to all new editions for the designated time you purchase for. We are still a few years away from publishers offering ALL textbooks online, which means most students will have to a mix of online and hardcover books for a bit longer.

I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab in general. It was fun, easy to use and allowed for easy presentations! But, I do feel it would be better used by social sciences or perhaps engineering where large amounts of textbooks are required for every day use. One of my friends in engineering purchased a tablet last year and downloaded all his textbooks to it instead of lugging his 1000 page books to school!

Check out the Rogers Innovation Report Here!

So that's it! Do you have a tablet? Any recommendations for great apps to use for school? I'm all ears!



  1. Hi Krista,

    Great post!

    I like your idea of being able to rent or borrow a textbook digitally for a certain amount of time, where you'd get updates delivered to you as they are made. I know having something like that when I was in school would have been a huge help!

    I think the kind of on-demand publishing that digital publishing lends itself so naturally to, means that we will see more textbooks going digital in the future. That being said, I think there are more hurdles to overcome: Firstly, just because you can publish updates all the time, doesn't mean you have an author who's simply working on updating their textbook all the time; and secondly, I found paying upwards of $100 a little too much for a physical book, nevermind paying something like that for a digital book that expires after a certain period!

    As for apps for school, Livescribe's new pen Sky could be your friend. Livescribe is a pen, that also records audio and scans your handwritten notes into a computer, matching the audio to the writing of your notes. I used it all the time as a reporter. Sky is their newest pen that syncs to Evernote, which means it's available on all of your devices, without having to plug your pen into your computer. Check it out:

    Great post, Krista!

  2. Hey Krista,
    Great stuff! You brought up a lot of good points.

    Personally I think tablets absolutely have the potential to replace textbooks, books, and paper in general.

    But that depends on the availability of content, as you alluded to in your post. Not all textbooks are available for iPad. You can bet your bottom dollar though that if they were, students would buy the digital versions for sure. It's just a matter of time until publishers hop on board..

  3. While the published content needs to fill in, I wonder how much better your experience would have been with a Windows 8 tablet. Windows RT comes loaded with Office, which includes PowerPoint and OneNote. These two apps would have let you view AND create presentations, AND take notes (with a stylus if you so choose), AND do this at the same time because Windows has a snap feature that lets you have two applications on the screen at the same time. Rogers is supposed to be carrying the Samsung Ativ tablet, maybe they'll give you a chance to try this again!

  4. I agree, Sean! The Windows 8 Tablet looks great and I would love to try it. The compatibility with PowerPoint would be very helpful with current notes.

    Unfortunately, I only had limited time with the Samsung tablet and did not fully get to experience every part of it (such as apps or other programs) which is most likely why there are some holes in my review. I'm hoping with the next product, I can give a stronger review of technology and apps as this was my first tech review! Thanks for reading and the recommendation.

  5. [...] In our last Rogers Innovation report, we reported that 35% of youth believe tablets will replace textbooks within the next 5 years. We wanted to put that theory to the test so we asked La Lobana and Med Lab Maven to use the Samsung Galaxy tablet for a week and asked them if tablets could replace their textbooks. See how they fared in Lo Lobana’s post here, and Med Lab Maven’s post here. [...]

  6. […] few months ago, Krista took part in a tablet challenge  where she tried to trade in her textbooks for a tablet for one week. She learned that tablets are […]


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