This morning at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Apple announced their newest version of iBooks, with a major twist that's designed to remove it from its position as a late-entry contender in the Kindle vs. Nook ebook battle. Instead, Apple's focusing on education, with the eventual aim of replacing paper textbooks with iPad versions.
The new version of iBooks frees the app from its prior restrictions--now it can boast video, audio, interactive multitouch controls, and all kinds of new annotations. That's key to Apple's idea of the future of textbooks, which will look more like our friend Theodore Gray's amazing periodic table app The Elements than a static PDF.
But text is still a major part of the new platform--these are textbooks, after all. You'll be able to read them in portrait or landscape, and make notes and annotations with digital stickies. Maybe the coolest part of the entire project is the automatic note-card creation: it'll combine all of your stickies automatically into digital versions of 3x5 note-cards for self-quizzing. Of course, there'll also be interactive quizzes throughout the book/app.
Apple already has the big three textbook publishers on board (that'd be McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Pearson, who combine to take 90 percent of the K-12 textbook market). But what's interesting is that Apple is starting out targeting high schools. The books will be cheaper, yes--textbooks will cost $15 or less--but shelling out for iPads is still a ridiculously expensive prospect for an American public high school, so hopefully there'll be some kind of (major) discount for schools.
There'll also be a new platform for self-publishing, called iBooks Author, for Mac OS. According to the New York Times, it'll require "no programming knowledge" and will mostly provide templates for prospective textbook authors to use.
iBooks 2 is available now for iPhone and iPad, though the textbook features are iPad-only.
Let's say the average high school text book costs $50 a pop (a conservative estimate) and the average high school student uses 10 books a year. If you're buying text books at $15, then you're saving $35 for each one. Then over a student's career (given they graduate in 4 years), that would be a savings of about $1400 which is more than enough to buy an iPad and save some cash. Now the one flaw in that estimate is the assumption that every student is bought a new text book. I can definitely remember my days in high school getting my ratty text books at the beginning of the year with previous owners inscriptions sometimes dated more than five years prior. However, if Apple were to make it possible to pass ownership of books, then this would mitigate any costs of buying new books for students and would in the long run save money. I think this is a great idea and I hope that it is widely adopted. If it were on an iPad, I think I would have been a little more motivated to read my text books. This could even be used as an incentive. If you do well, then you get to use an iPad instead of a physical copy.
Textbooks cost around $80 each, with around 6 textbooks in use per student per year. The life of a text book varies from 5 to 15 years.
At a five year adoption, the cost for this app would be $75 compared to the $80 for the text book (assuming that you would issue iPads to the students and put the textbooks apps on thier iPads, as having an iPad per course would be ridiculously expensive). . .
So, the savings are modest for even the fastest adopting school systems and would not cover the cost of the iPads.
Furthermore, many systems work very hard to get every penny out of their textbooks. My system, with block schedualing, gets two issuances per year out of each text book (Fall and Spring courses). We often do not issue the books to the students, reducing the need to one book per desk rather than per pupil. I also am currently teaching out of a book two adoptions old (others in the department are teaching out of the old adoption and our current adoption was skipped last year because of state budget issues).
Thus, the books I am using for the spring will be on their 24th semester of issuance, will be used three times each per day (essentually issued to three students, one per block), and will likely be used again and again until our next adoption rolls around in 2016.
There is no way to "cheat" a system like the iPads to pinch pennies to the level that public school teachers are required to. If you look at cost per use, I am in between $1 and $2 per student who has used my current textbooks
Of course, systems in richer parts of the U.S. may have different needs.
OakSpar's comment seems like it would apply to many more schools than not. Unless Apple cuts some deal with the Department of Education I don't see this becoming prevalent in your typical public school. It has a much more likely chance of being picked up in already wealthy private schools.
Forget the cost of an iPad. The advantages are HUGE! I've been highly anticipating this move from Apple a long time and it makes me wish i was a student again.
1) Textbooks are really pricey these days. Many books run more than $50. A single ipad full of all the different textbooks will come in cheaper than a new set of books every year, especially when the same ipad is used for 4-6 years before it is replaced.
2) Textbooks are a dead media. They do not update. Once they are printed, they may already contain outdated information. Many students walk around with 5-10 year old books. A 10 year old ipad can still display brand new, updated material every year.
3) Textbooks do not engage students with sounds and video. A textbook can only show a single photograph to demonstrate a concept whereas an iPad could give you access to hundreds or thousands of images. the ways a child (or adult) could learn from interactive education that ipads can offer will increase interest in education, which can mean all the difference in a childs education. ipads can use entirely different teaching models that are simply not possible in printed form.
4) Textbooks weigh alot. For years, I had to lug around backpacks weighing back-breaking amounts. these days, schools are imposing limits on homework they assign simply because we now have laws that limit the pounds a student is asked to carry from home to school. Nice law, saves the kids back, but now they don't get any homework, which makes me wonder how they learn anything. Simply put, I want my kid carrying a 2 lb ipad vrs a 40 lb backpack.
5) think GREEN! ipad for textbooks = no paper hardcopies. we all know digital distribution saves the environment over giant paper mill factories. i switched from a daily delivered newspaper to simply reading online news and lo and behold my paper recycling bin is empty and i still get my news.
6) ORGANIZE and TECHNOLOGY: our students can receive communication from the teacher, communication from their friends, collaborate with their classmates on projects, research with an entire library in their hands, receive all their assignments, keep a list of things to do and things accomplished, track their grades, check the weather, reminders, dictionary, study guides/helpers, etc, all with one device. you will never get any of that from a textbook. our world is one of technology. students should familiarize themselves with it from an early age so when they go into the workplace, it is second nature to them.
7) as far as cost goes, with every school in the nation (or world) starting to use ipads, the cost of ipads will significantly drop as sales numbers increase. much like the $1500 VCR and the $2000 flat screen, it will only be a matter of time before a new ipad will only run $89 or less. Given time, ipad's or whatever comes after them will only get more and more affordable, just like any other technology. 10 years from now, a single ipad and a single textbook will likely cost about the same, but the ipad will still hold all the advantages.
..or you could just replace all textbooks with pdf's
Wow jrimsa75 you write like a prepared paid spokesman.
But seriously I agree with almost all points you make on a whole, but with the exception of using already existing and affordable $50 netbook laptops. Cut out the overpriced apple product and save some real money.
the roadway still long
the battery life of an iPad still not that good for hours of use without thinking about it.
the iPad still an annoying LCD display
i think the a E-ink dynamic colored display-probably the kindle's successor- is the only suitable perfect solution.
-long battery life.
-comfort for the eyes.
-colored and dynamic.
-amazon was always giving the best cheap offers for almost everything.
Yes, let's replace the relatively rugged textbooks with the relatively fragile iPad -- oh, and is the battery replaceable ( I think not)
Remember if the ereader is damaged/lost, that student now has lost ALL textbooks -- and there may be a reloading fee for each.
And how about the monopoly angle -- now you have ONE (historically very territorial) vendor controlling a major part of your textbook supply.
The display will be small ( yes, I know, fabulously detailed), which limits the content that can be on screen at any given time.
Not to mention that sometimes you have a couple of books for a given class and you might have both of them working at the same time.
ANY type of e textbook would seem to be a doofus idea. High priced and highly territorial Apple, probably one of the worst choices as your single source vendor.
Now I don't see any feasibility in using an iPad for educational use at all.
Reasons and Questions:
1. How is the school going to pay for a 500 dollar iPad that can be easily damaged, broken, or stolen?
2. (As ford2go said) You can't use numerous textbooks at the same time.
3. How can students be ensured that they aren't using their iPads during class to be playing games? Sure you can always put 'parental controls' or extra software on there, but students will find a way around it by jail breaking their iPads.
4. This plan isn't feasible unless it's in a school district with several extra hundred thousand dollars in excess or unless it's in a private school.
Now with this in mind, do I expect schools to be using this method anytime soon? Probably not until the US is able to get over the national debt crisis, lower poverty and unemployment rates, spend less money on the military-industrial complex, and solve the trade deficit the US currently has with the rest of the world.
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