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?
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.