Hype or Just Hilarity : Apple to Revolutionize Education & Increase Social Inequality

With Apple’s special announcement, just about a week old, it’s easy to see that the drama surrounding the electronic textbook hasn’t quite died. I am still wondering how many wannabee romance novel writers are feeling the tingling magic that iBooks Author is their next big break.

On a slue of radio talk shows covering the special event many questions were raised regarding the practicalities of converting school into paperless environments. Like:

  • How will schools pay for iPads?
  • What kind of deployment strategy will schools need to employ?
  • Will there be grants to cover the costs?
  • Will Apple donate iPads to classrooms like they did with the Apple I in 1975? (Very unlikely)
  • Will students still know how to write without a computer-assisted device?

The shift to digital education and online environments is nothing new. Online colleges and institutions like Devry University have been around for the better part of the last ten years. Even Amazon has already been well on it’s way to position itself as an e-textbook source. They’ve been renting e-textbooks via Kindle for a solid six months, and have numerous initiatives to capitalize the eBook market. But it’s hard to say whether Amazon could compete with a behemoth like Apple.

The cost of the iPad, monetarily and humanitarianly, (is that a word?) may provide some hope. As in a commentary by David Carnoy, posted on CNET today on the New York Times, “In China, human costs are built into the iPad,” points out that Apple’s business practices aren’t necessarily beneficial for the well-being of all. I think we were all aware of this.  Apple’s factories operate like many other factories of electronic devices, with production efficiency goals as their highest priority. But everyone loves the iPad and it’s going to revolutionize education, Right? And after all, that’s just business, Isn’t it? Besides, I’m typing this on an iMac, what can I really say?

Color China Photo, via Associated Press; Explosion last May at Foxconn

The truth is, I’d love to go paperless. But, then I’d never execute great ideas! Learn why you need to write it out. I’m not really sure what will become of iPad-based education, but I will regret the day my child asks me to buy their apps for the semester.

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2 thoughts on “Hype or Just Hilarity : Apple to Revolutionize Education & Increase Social Inequality

  1. anthonypompliano January 26, 2012 / 10:24 pm

    There are many pros to a move for paperless education. I agree with you that it should only be done if the core basics of education are not sacrificed. With that being said, many “experts” have come forward and stated health benefits (no heavy backpacks, etc) but that is not it. Some teachers have come forward saying that they are able to keep track of students progress and understanding better with programs such as Khan Academy (which use iPads to complete in class). It is yet to be seen if this is the right move for education but I commend Apple for attempting to make a difference in an industry that needs a lot of help!

    • Jetty M. Hartsky January 26, 2012 / 10:32 pm

      Anthony,

      There are definitely benefits to be had. But, I do believe we will see a cultural shift as we are creating even our institutions (like education) to be digital. That, I’m not so sure is good or bad.

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