IUPUI Introduces Free-to-Use Tablets in IT Building

The Technology Services at IUPUI have recently introduced tablets in the Information Technology (IT) Building.

Spencer Wilson, actuarial science major, uses the new tablets for the first time.

Spencer Wilson, actuarial science major, uses the new tablets for the first time.

The goal of these tablets is to allow students quick and easy access to programs. There have been eight tablets placed on the first floor of the IT building. They are locked in place to prevent the possibility of theft, but students have still expressed concerns over the devices’ security.

The devices are just prototypes, and the reactions from students will be the deciding factor in whether the tablets become a permanent fixture in the building. IUPUI is the first campus that IU has used to try the new devices. It cost the department $700 to put the new tablets in place. The tablets are Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140 models, which retails for $799 on Dell’s website.

“IUPUI students are the most mobile device friendly out of any of the campuses,” Matthew Decker, manager of Student Technology Computing, said.

Right now, Student Technology is tracking tablet usage through utilization data, looking at how many students log on to use them. In a few weeks, those involved with the project will survey students about the tablets. The student response will determine if the new tablets will remain a permanent fixture at IUPUI campus.

“If students like them, we’ll keep them,” Decker said. “If they don’t like them, we’ll take them away.”

However, few students have used the tablets yet or even know why the devices are even there. The lack of student interest could be due to the minimal advertising done by the IT department. There is no mention of the tablets on the department’s website, and signs around the tablets only have login instructions.

“I don’t think anyone has used the tablets or noticed them. No one’s asked us about them yet,” Taylor Eck, a photography major who works in the computer lab, said.

The few students who have used the new devices have mixed reactions about their presence.

“I forgot my laptop today, so I think it’s useful,” Em Al-Abdulmunem, Health Informatics major, said.

On the other hand, some students do not see the point of having public devices for mass student use.

“There’s a computer lab a few feet away that’s never full. People have computers, their own tablets or phones that they can use,” Spencer Wilson, an actuarial science major, said. “I can see the utility in that it’s on a table instead of a cramped space.”

Though students at IUPUI have not quite noticed the new tablets on campus, IUPUI Technology Services are on the right track with introducing mobile technology into the school.

Recent studies have shown that college students are leaving their traditional laptops behind and using their tablets or smartphones to do schoolwork. A 2013 article by Educause stated that 67 percent of students’ smartphones and tablets were being used for academic purposes.

If the eight tablets work out in the IT building, more tablets will be introduced in other areas of campus, such as the dining areas in the Campus Center.

“We want them to be in places where students will be doing casual computing, rather than classrooms that use hardcore computing,” Decker said.

Picture caption: Spencer Wilson, actuarial science major, uses the new tablets for the first time.