Introduction

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by tribehut

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by tribehut

Why mobile devices?

Aaron Smith’s (2012) Pew Internet and American Life report announced a tipping point: suddenly, there were more smartphone than regular cell phone users; 46% of Americans owned smartphones with 41% owning other phones (p. 2). Since then, the numbers have only increased. The Nielsen Company (2013) announced in March, 2013 that 59% of Americans owned smartphones (p. 17). Ownership and user numbers are higher among traditional college-aged people: 66% ownership with 18-29 year olds (Zickuhr & Smith, 2012, p. 17). Additionally, income and educational attainment are not as significant with this younger-aged group; in other words, individuals under 30 years of age are more likely to own smartphones whether or not they make more than $30,000 and/or have some college experience (p. 18). Although these numbers are outdated even as I write this chapter (e.g., as soon as September 2012, six months after Smith’s report above, Lee Rainie’s (2012a) report from the Pew Foundation emphasized both youth and higher income brackets as markers of smartphone ownership), and definitely by the time this book is published, the data still demonstrate important trends for faculty and administrators of OWI programs. Age and education are not the only markers of smartphone ownership. The Nielson Company (March 2013) announced the following smartphone ownership patterns by ethnicity: White 55%, African American 68%, Hispanic 68%, and Asian 74% (p. 17). One of the Pew studies (Zickuhr & Smith, April 2012) more eloquently stated:

Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of Internet access. (p. 2)

from Shelley’s article on “Mobile OWI” in the Online Writing Instruction collection that Beth Hewett and Kevin Depew are editing (based on CCCC’s OWI position statement)

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