It’s a sight we see all too often at our children’s schools. Little kids, big kids, and even young adults at college, walking about their campuses lugging a big load of books strapped to their back.
In a media event last week, Apple said they have a solution that will be easier on their backs, and help them learn better at the same time.
The speculation that Apple would announce a textbook solution in their media event bore fruit. Apple announced an initiative to replace stacks of physical textbooks with (lightweight) digital e-textbooks on the iPad tablet.
In Apple’s presentation, they pointed out that physical textbooks have several problems. Weight and bulkiness of course, durability, searching and finding things is not easy in them, and they can’t be updated without replacing the book. And that’s just in regards to use in the classroom. When it comes to handling the books in bulk, there are issues tracking, storage, upkeep, shipping, distribution, and inventory, that must be managed by school districts.
Apple has begun signing up textbook publishers with the idea of supplying textbooks through Apple’s tablets. McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are some of the first publishers to jump in. Apple also introduced an app for accessing the e-textbooks yesterday, the iBooks 2. The app is getting mixed reviews right now, but there’s little doubt that Apple will work out the bugs.
The benefits of e-textbooks are readily apparent. The ability to add video, sounds, interactivity – and even have pop quizzes that can be taken with immediate results. The e-textbooks will provide Instant educational gratification and be easier on the back.
But while private schools and colleges can task their students with providing their own iPad’s. an iPad based e-textbook revolution will be quite a bit tougher on public schools, where the school districts would have to pony-up for the iPads.
As Ricardo Bilton points out over at ZDNet, the biggest problem with this initiative may be that it’s tied to the pricey iPad. That, plus, as James Kendirk, also of ZDNet, says “There is one thing that may get in the way of the Apple goal: kids.” Kids are careless, iPads are comparatively fragile… and expensive. Even kids that are careful have to deal with lunches, bullies, bus rides and weather. How could school districts keep kids supplied? Answers to these questions were not addressed in the news conference.