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Schools expect to have more iPads than computers in next 5 years

A new survey of technology directors in U.S. school districts found that all of them are testing or deploying the iPad in schools, and they expect tablets to outnumber computers in the next five years.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray revealed the results of the small survey of 25 educational technology directors at a conference on the integration of technology in the classroom. The poll found that all of them were utilizing Apple's iPad in schools, while none were testing or deploying Android-based tablets.

"While this may be expected due to limited availability of Android tablets early in the tablet cycle, we also see it as evidence of Apple's first mover advantage," Munster said. "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."

IT directors who spoke with Piper Jaffray indicated that within the next five years, they expect to have more tablets per student than they currently have computers. And since the iPad represents 100 percent of tablets seen in schools, Munster said the word "tablet" might as well be synonymous with "iPad."

He noted that Ron Johnson, Apple's outgoing head of retail operations, recently indicated that the current crop of students may be "the last generation with backpacks," as students use iPads to replace their books. The 25 technology decision makers in education indicated that devices like the iPad allow for individualized learning better than a traditional computer.

The school districts represented in the survey have about 10 students per computer, but in the next five years, IT directors for school districts expect they will have about six students per iPad. The survey also revealed that the iPad is being used to supplement computers, not replace them, within schools.

Earlier this year, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook indicated that demand for the iPad is strong among education customers, as well as with consumers and in the enterprise. The company went on to report sales of 11.2 million iPad units in its last quarter, the highest sales yet in a three-month period.

In February of this year, a Georgia state senator proposed a plan to get rid of conventional textbooks and shift middle school classrooms to the iPad. Tommie Williams hopes to see printed books replaced, and met with Apple to discuss a plan to make the iPad a central component in the state's education system.