As mobile devices have become more popular, they have also become more widely integrated into our lives. So many students now use smartphones or tablets as part of their online education that the trend has given rise to many student-focused apps and even a distinct educational path, mobile learning . Like many students, you may be wondering if a mobile device is necessary for succeeding in your online class.

How Mobile Devices Help

A smartphone or tablet can certainly enhance your online learning experience. Being able to access course materials, create assignments, or even simply email your professor and fellow students on the go makes online learning even more convenient. If your online school has its own app, like the University of Phoenix and the University of Southern California do, you can use it to access school material from anywhere. With a smartphone, you can enroll in courses that are specifically designed for mobile learning or m-learning, in which a mobile device of some kind is typically a course requirement.

Mobile Devices Are Nice, But Not Necessary

However, you do not need a mobile device for most online learning. While there’s no denying that tablets or smartphones can be helpful to have, all you really need for achieving success in an online course is access to a computer with Internet access and of course the required course materials, like textbooks or any special software necessary for the class. If you want a tablet or smartphone, it can complement your educational experience, but don’t allow not owning a mobile device to prevent you from pursuing the online education you want.

What Online Students Should Look for in a Mobile Device

If you do decide to purchase a tablet or smartphone for the purpose of enhancing your online studies, don’t make your choice purely on factors like price or prestige. Just because a tablet is either the cheapest or the newest doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best choice to use for your online education. There are certain features that the ideal tablet for online learning should have, according to Inside Higher Ed. Look for tablets that provide a good experience in both consuming and creating video, audio and text. Tablets that work well with online learning will also allow for easy typing, connect to the Internet with or without Wi-Fi and support web meeting software, word processing software, and a wide variety of apps.

Whether or not to use a mobile device is a personal decision. For some online college students, apps can help them stay focused, manage notes, and complete coursework. Other online students might find mobile devices to be distractions or even sources of frustration. If you do choose to purchase a mobile device for the purpose of assisting with your online education, keep in mind that the most important factor in attaining success is not how high-tech your tools are, but your discipline and determination to succeed.