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The Digital Future Of Textbooks

The revolution brewing in your child’s backpack. One little computer tablet may soon replace all those big old textbooks.

Apple employees demonstrate interactive features of iBooks 2 for iPad, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in New York. IBooks 2 will be able to display books with videos and other interactive features. (AP)

Apple employees demonstrate interactive features of iBooks 2 for iPad, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in New York. IBooks 2 will be able to display books with videos and other interactive features. (AP)

It hits in middle school.  The twenty-pound school backpack.  Loaded with notepads and pencils and gear and – above all – textbooks.  Big old heavy paper-and-ink textbooks loaded with math lessons and history and diagrams of frog intestines.  It sounds so 20th Century.

Now, there’s a push on to throw out the textbooks and load everything a young student needs onto one little nifty tablet computer.  Weighs just a pound.  Carries the world.  As many digital textbooks as you like.  Ready to dazzle.  Will they work?

This hour, On Point:  when textbooks go digital, go tablet.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Katie Ash, staff writer for Education Week and Education Week’s tech publication “Digital Directions.”

Charlene Chausis, Manager for Technology Training & Integration at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill.

John Bailey, director of Whiteboard Advisers, an education consulting group. He worked in the Bush administration Director of Education Technology at the US department of education. At the White House, he was a domestic adviser to the president on education and labor policies.

From Tom’s Reading List

Inside Higher Ed “Apple made its much-anticipated move on the education technology industry on Thursday, announcing a revamped version of its iTunes U platform [3] that could challenge traditional learning management systems. It also unveiled new tools for creating and distributing low-cost digital textbooks that could speed the pace of e-text adoption.”

MSNBC “Apple announced that it was “reinventing the textbook” using the iPad, its iBooks bookstore and a new kind of book creation tool. But despite the tremendous success of the iPad in recent years, and despite the biggest partners in educational publishing, does the company have the ability to effect real change?”

Ars Technica “”iBooks” are no longer old Apple laptops made out of white plastic, nor are they simply e-books to be purchased within Apple’s iBookstore. Apple announced what it’s calling “iBooks 2″ during its media event in New York on Thursday, a textbook software program that allows textbook-makers and instructors to create rich, interactive teaching media for the iPad.”

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  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Apple’s announcement was significant and I know they’ve been working on getting large textbook publishers to consider electronic versions of textbooks for years.

    I bought and downloaded a few textbooks on my iPad 2 and I have to say, even without the interactive stuff they’re great: searching, taking notes and having notes neatly organized, it all works just like the demos. Excellent. I think it’s quite possible that textbook content in this form will lead to more use of textbooks and better retention of the material they contain.

    I downloaded the free app for the Mac, iBooks Author and it’s quite easy to use so anyone with some content and basic design skills can build and upload a textbook.

    Apple’s push in the ed world will take a year or so to take hold but I’m pretty sure it will be significant and will change the model of buying and then reselling expensive textbooks, Hiliter pens, notecards and more.

    • nj

      E-gizmo advantages aside, i’m not sure textbooks ever “needed” to be landfilled. It’s pretty easy to recycle paper and cardboard. Not so (yet) with toxics-laden electronics.

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        True enough nj, what I meant was that once out of date and replaced with newer versions, they have to be recycled or landfilled and lose their value as textbooks. It’s an expensive process either way and the digitization of them eliminates it.

  • Poornima

     My daughter is visually impaired and will enter high school in the fall. As far as our family is concerned, these textbooks can’t get here fast enough.

  • Concerned Teacher/Parent

    Reinventing textbooks by keeping the outdated structure intact. Why should we have to download the entire “textbook” and only use 50% of the content (don’t get caught up on the percentage…just an estimate). Why not create something like Safari Books Online as well…where you (the teacher or curriculum committee) have the ability to pick and choose chapters to assemble the best “supplements” for your course in a “textbook” package? I’m not aware of any Volume Purchasing Program for the iBookstore, so how will schools purchase enough textbooks for their devices? Or, are we asking the families to start purchasing the textbooks? Why in the world would I need to keep a second grade science textbook or an eighth grade social studies textbook after I’m done with that grade level. How much content would be redundant across the years (where the biggest difference is in reading level)? As a classroom teacher and a parent, I would hope that school districts don’t blindly jump on the bandwagon simply to say they are supporting technology in education. There seem to be a lot of issues that haven’t been addressed…only to make way for the hype.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      K-12 schools are bulk purchasing these electronic textbooks for students just as they do now. They’re also supplying the iPads.

      • Concerned Teacher/Parent

        there isn’t currently a way to “bulk” purchase books from the iBookstore unless you use multiple Apple IDs. That’s not how most schools provision their iPad deployments. This is one of the reasons why Apple came up with the Volume Purchase Program for applications. 

        • Concerned Teacher/Parent

          UPDATE: Books are now available in the VPP.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      You, and your colleagues are in the best position to give input!  Pros and cons!

  • Alex

    Problem is a digital textbook costs the same big bucks as the normal paper one.  Once the class is over you can sell your paper textbook online and recoup some money, but you cannot sell your digital one. My wife is in college now and she prefers papers books for that very reason. 

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s not true Alex. According to Apple’s presentation in New York last week, no textbook on the iPad will cost more than $14.95, quite a bit less than a paper book. And, updates are free forever.

      • Alex

        This would go against Apple’s business model. When you have nowhere to go but them they will dictate the prices together with the publishers.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          Again, history contradicts you Alex. The cost of iBooks has consistently gone down in the years I’ve been buying them. The cost of apps has also remained low and gone lower in many cases. The cost of digital music has also remained the same since the birth of the iPod: .99 for a song in most cases.

          • Alex

            Right. But are these items cheaper than those in a regular store? I doubt it. If not, the issue becomes:  can you sell a used textbook online?

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Not sure I get your point. You can’t buy a single song in a regular store for .99.

            You can’t buy a textbook in any store for the prices that Apple and the publishers are asking for them in this form.

          • Alex

            You cannot buy a single song in the store, but when you add up the cost of 15 songs you get about the same price as that for a regular album. My point is the prices are about the same. The disadvantages, though, are well known: I cannot sell or borrow from a class mate or lend to him/her a used iTunes item.  This is basically a sunk cost. Where is the saving?

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            You can certainly buy a single song in the iTunes store. Always has been this way and it’s this way right now.

          • Concerned Teacher/Parent

            in the iTunes store, yes…but, not in a music store (in the rare case you find one) or any other physical store (unless it was put out as a single).

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Alex’s statement was about the iTunesstore. His statement is wrong.

          • Jeffrey

            Except the cost of the iPad has not.  That can become prohibitive to many.  $500 per iPad is not something school districts or many parents can afford to supply to each child let alone a family with multiple children. 

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Jeffrey: Watch the announcement before you comment. The cost of the iPad has remained the same since its announcement. Many school districts are buying iPads for all of their students and loading them up with textbooks. Los Angeles Unified School District is an early example.

      • Concerned Teacher/Parent

        @Richard, you should probably watch that presentation a little more closely  as well. No where did Apple say that “all” textbooks would be this cheap. There’s a reason they are starting in K-12 with this model…the economics work in favor of the publisher. Before they were getting $80-100 per book. However, curriculum cycles can be anywhere from 5-8 years. Books are shared from year to year, and in some cases they are shared between classes during the same year. It is not uncommon to have a “class set” of textbooks. College textbooks have a completely different set of economics behind them…and I can’t wait to see how long it takes for “those” books to make it (if they do) into the store. Now, throw in the fact, that there are plenty of “textbooks” I don’t have a use for after taking the class…no matter how “cheap” you think it is…that’s money down the drain. I’m also not going to go out and buy a bigger iPad just to store more than 4-5 textbooks. A small textbook can be over 1GB…I believe the largest textbook currently in the store is around 3GB. I could go on…

  • vandermeer

    I see these textbooks laden with content and links to extended learning sites and explanations of vocabulary and explanations
    of terms and events of which students do not have prior knowledge. Kids already use applications to such works as “Romeo and Juliet” and other Shakespearean plays that help
    them really understand the language and references.
    This from a veteran teacher of 40 years.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Many of you need to watch Apple’s product announcement before you post ill-informed questions and comments:

    http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/1201oihbafvpihboijhpihbasdouhbasv/event/index.html

    It takes quite a bit of time but its well worth watching.

    Here’s another one that’s included in the long announcement (shorter):

    http://www.apple.com/education/#video-textbooks

    Here’s their product page on iPad in education:

    http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/

    • Concerned Teacher/Parent

      at the point in time where you posted this…how many is “many”…? There were only a few people leaving comments. Everyone is capable of posting ill-informed questions and comments…including yourself (I hope you would agree). How many times have you watched the announcement? I’ve been involved in several of these discussions following the announcement…some of your comments seem a bit ill-informed to me…but, it could simply be how you perceived the information. I’m willing to accept that…and move on. :)

  • AC

    well i’m just jealous. 
    I’m trying to think of something, anything, but nothing was learned by being treated as a pack mule…lucky ducks!!!

    • Terry Tree Tree

      You got the aerobic exercise!  You built up your muscles?  You had greater resistance to being blown off  your feet?

      • AC

        lol. my back tells me there was a line somewhere in there when muscle building turned to abuse!!

    • Questioner

      either the back or the eyes must go, huh, can’t have it all.

      • AC

        o my eyes went too, i was a hard-core reader……(also, i’ll admit, i got my first computer & nintendo when i was 10….bit of an addict with those too…:) )

  • Soli

    I’m curious to hear how this is going to apply to poor school districts.
     

    • Adks12020

      think of it this way…1 ipad per student or many, many textbooks…and text book are not cheap.  PLus you have to buy new textbooks more often.  You can just update the ipad.  I’m sure one could last each student all four years of high school as long as they make sure to update it regularly.

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        That’s exactly right Adks12020.

  • Adks12020

    I definitely like the idea.  I know many of my friends that had difficulty with shakespeare and foreign languages could benefit from the computer aided learning. 

    I’m in graduate school now for law/finance and some of the new computer programs are invaluable for helping me to learn the language of law and finance.  With one of the add ons to Office I can simply highlight a word and it will look it up in the legal dictionary and give me examples.  Another add on finds all the legal citations in a word document and opens a pane with links (and full text) to the cited documents so I can reference them without even leaving the document I’m working on.

    I’m not an ipad user at the moment but I’m sure they have similar useful features available.

  • Questioner

    So many people are gonna be nearsighted/shortsighted, like me.  I grew up in a developing/third world country with no personal computer and virtually no tv (had no cable and couldn’t pick up the local stations more than half the time).  I read books (on paper) a lot and my vision was perfect.  Then I came to this country for college and grad school where I started using the computer a lot (to access textbooks and articles for school, for leisure, to read the news).  I use a computer all the time at work, it’s absolutely necessary for my job.  Now my vision is so bad I can barely see clearly the faces of those sitting across from me at meetings.  (Yes, I have glasses and I see perfectly with them).

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      The iBooks app has excellent typographic, brightness and background color control. You can also change typefaces. Text can be made so large that a single word (like the word “word”) is 6″ long. I can’t vouch (yet) for how textbooks will adhere to the current model but my guess is they will as they change layout automatically when the orientation of the iPad is changed so text is placed in such a way that a change in layout shouldn’t break things. So, changing text size shouldn’t break things either. Of course, when the teacher says “go to page 6″ that may not mean the same thing with 24 point type (it may be page 20).

  • Terry Tree Tree

    There are advantages and disadvantages, both ways!
        Printed books CANNOT be easily hacked, and changed!
        Thousands of electronic books weigh LESS than ONE textbook!
        You don’t have to know how to change the batteries in a printed book!
        The print size and font can be changed in an eBook!

        MANY others!

    • Rex

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-S-Graber/1311199075 Eric S. Graber

    I like the prospects of improving teaching effectiveness and reducing costs via e-textbooks.  Teachers can tailor instruction by inserting e-books within a web based online instructional platform.  I would emphasize need for close attention to the ergonomic pros and cons of e-books and general student-instructor health.  Perhaps,digital reminders to exercise and allow eyes to wander might be programmed into the instructional rendering.  

  • http://twitter.com/gallaugher John Gallaugher

    Regarding textbooks: The question doesn’t have to be print or tablet, it can be both.  For the past three years I’ve had a book available via ‘open’ publisher Flat World Knowledge.  Some key points:
    - the book is free in any browser (including the iPad & iPhone)
    - most students still prefer print & printed versions are available for $35, or even less for printable .pdf chapters
    - while I could self-publish, I feel I need the added skills of a publisher – editorial, layout, copyright clearance, marketing, revenue collection, etc.
    - I retain the copyright, not my publisher.  This is a really big deal for many authors.
    - While the web-based editing tool isn’t as elegant as Apple’s offering, it does allow faculty to modify texts – adding their own supplementary content or eliminating whole sections.
    The model is very disruptive – faculty have sampled a free web page then gone on to adopt the entire book.  It’s now used in top tier business/tech programs (Michigan, CMU, Maryland), and (because of the free online option) worldwide from Kenya to Vietnam.

    The book:
    http://bit.ly/ISbookV1-3

    A recent interview on my experiences with the publisher:
    http://education-portal.com/articles/The_Other_Side_of_Open_Textbooks_A_Conversation_with_Author_John_Gallaugher.html

    Video of a talk I gave for Apple last year where I mention the open textbook (plus mobile & social in higher ed):
    http://education.apple.com/academix/

    And an article offering an overview of the project:
    http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/spring_2011/linden_lane/textbook-20.html

    Good luck,
    John

    John Gallaugher, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Information Systems
    Carroll School of Management – Boston College
    http://www.gallaugher.com http://twitter.com/gallaugher

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      John: Absolutely, it’s never all one way or another although for K12 I think this packaged deal will be more readily adopted because of ease of use and publishers and Apple aggressively seeding.

      As I know you know, MIT has had their entire curriculum online for many years now and it’s a great success. For older students and adults this is no doubt the way to go for many types of educational materials. For K12 a more controlled environment seems like it might be more affective.

      • Bob

        “As I know you know, MIT has had their entire curriculum online for many years now and it’s a great success.” Not exactly. What MIT has is often a single version of a course which may or may not be representative (particularly for courses other than the huge lecture classes) and many (most?) still require textbooks. The web initiative seems to be more about creating archived generic resources than posting the current curriculum in all courses.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          This looks like more than a single course:

          http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/

          • Bob

            What exactly was unclear about “a single VERSION” of courses, since it was obvious that my post was talking about more than pne course? I’m not saying this isn’t a great resource, but it is NOT generally what students are learning and experiencing at MIT this semester. Having an archived version of some particular professors’ past take on most big classes offered at your school is different from having your current curriculum online.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Sorry, I misread your post. Why are we arguing? MIT is part of a consortium experimenting with putting curricula online and has been leading. What’s wrong with that?

            I’m not sure that’s appropriate for K12 curricula but it seems to be working out for university level curricula.

          • Bob

            I’m not arguing. I was just clarifying. I think saying that they have “their entire curriculum online” is misleading here. What they have is basically archived sample versions of many of their course websites in a standardized web format. Such materials may or may not include various off-line materials that may be essential to the course. They may or may not be representative or “good” versions of a particular class that has been taught in various ways over the years. I’m not saying anything about the resources are bad… I was just clarifying the scope.

  • Chauntelle

    I am a high school educator, and from an educational standpoint, this may be a fantastic idea. I can see that there are a lot of benefits to using electronic textbooks, from more easily staying current with the textbook content, to interactive problem solving.

    BUT, I am concerned about my children using wi-fi enabled tablets. There are enough questions and studies pointing to microwave’s (the wavelength used by wi-fi) causing health problems, that I feel it is irresponsible to place these in children’s laps until we are quite sure that they are safe. This may take many, many years to prove safe, and I believe we must apply the Precautionary Principle when it involves an entire generation of children. Just because a technology has not been proven unsafe, does NOT mean that it IS safe.

    • Peterharvevt

      “We live in a society exquisitely
      dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything
      about science and technology.”
      - Carl Sagan, PhD, world renowned astrophysicist,
      Harvard, Cornell, etc

      I made a spiral “bumper sticker” for my net book a couple of years ago with this quote on it. I had to look Precautionary Principle up on the Wikipedia to find out what it is about. Give that a little of your time Tom?

    • Concerned Parent

      WiFi tablets and laptops emit very similar amounts of RF radiation to cell phones, but they are used for much longer periods of time.

      Given that the World Health Organization recently classified this kind of radiation as a class 2B carcinogen, schools should not be jumping into technology that has been scientifically demonstrated, through many studies, to increase the risk of cancer.

      That’s taking an unacceptably high risk with our children.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        eBooks, iPads, and notebooks are not held as close to the brain.
           Evaluation needs to be done!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What, exactly, is the problem with a pen, a textbook, and a notebook?  They worked when Americans were concerned about educating themselves.

  • PaulCJr

    While I love books. I can recall back in grade school as well as college and grad school, how all those heavy books would break my back. eTextbooks are a good thing. Plus they can make these books interactive which will stimulate even further learning. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Still depends on what’s in the textbooks. Biggest flaw in the system are publisher profits – if they came out with the “perfect” textbooks, they could not be pushed aside to sell new books.

    Which is why most textbooks are awful.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    It could make some things easier – things like unwanted historical facts or concepts like evolution could be eliminated from all textbooks at the same time in real time. Scary.

    • AC

       ? 

  • Anonymous

    As an academic publisher and a father of two school age children, I can tell you that most of us in the publishing community welcome these recent developments. The challenges that we face in developing interactive textbooks will relate to establishing common standards across different hardware devices. The most common standard the EPUB format is being widely adopted and will help get us all on the same page, but there’s still much work to be done.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    20 pounds ain’t nothin’!  My son’s backpack is closer to 40 pounds…  He has a Kindle Touch, so hopefully text books can be available that way.

    Neil

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Well, we’ve been cutting back on P.E. . . .

  • Yar

    What if school districts only paid for the pages actually read, and not just pages available.  One thing that E-books can do is track if a page is actually read.  

  • Rex

    Will the lifespan of a tablet computer equal that of the publication life of a book? 

    Does the cost of a tablet computer plus “book” equal the cost all of the text books used for the lifespan of the tablet computer?This would be much more economic in the college world when books are updated each year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      I’m not sure that this is relevant. If the ebook format is standardized, then the file will be portable across devices, so when a new device comes out, you just transfer your textbooks over to the new device.

      As for updating books each year, it’s much easier to update a file than to re-print a new edition of a book.

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        Exactly. The ePub standard works across devises and once bought, books are automatically updated (for free).

        • Concerned Teacher/Parent

          not every piece of software implements the ePub standard in the same way. ePub is based on XML. Apple has added in their own support for certain types of media. They’ve already indicated that the textbooks purchased in their store will only display correctly on the iPad (currently). Unless, everyone else wants to implement the exact same specification that Apple has…those ePub files are good for only one device (currently).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

    I’d love to see this idea of digital textbooks expanded to some crowd-sourced/open-sourced effort. There is no reason why publishers should hold any kind of monopoly on textbooks teaching the fundamentals of any topic. 

    • AC

      there are lots of open courseware sites…& Khan academy (love him!!)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

        I love Khan Academy, and that site is a model for more of what I’d like to see. Imagine if the material at Khan Academy were formatted to fit into a mobile device.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s the other significance of this announcement that Tom and the guests don’t get; iBooks Author can make books in the ePub format that can be distributed any way you like. Or, you can use any computer and any writing/layout tool to make a PDF or document with a bit more interactivity built in and upload it. Many of us have been doing this for years.

  • Anonymous

    Response to Rex: Good question. If the books can be transferred to a new device, the lifespan becomes essentially infinite.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Read oldman’s comment , just after yours?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    One thing I’d worry about (back to publisher profits) is the “self destructing” textbook. Publishers could make digital text books with an expiration date. Poof! Whether school district is financially ready to or not they would have to “lease” new textbooks or tell their kids to without.

    Of course schools can get around this issue by making the student’s parents buy the textbooks – as well as the ipad.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    India is working on a $30 touch tablet – why Ipads?

  • http://twitter.com/Flash120447 Alan Cohen

    Don’t get too excited about Apple. 30% tariff, to get into their ecosystem. A requirement that if you use their software to generate your book you can’t sell your work product through any source other than their store. If the work is not accepted, your work is going no where.
    Obviously, Kindle or Nook is the better solution.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s not true. You can easily spit out a “generic” ePub document to do with as you want.

  • guy

    Great marketing on Apple’s part… I guess they are not rich enough.  The books (at least the inteactive part) should be made available across all computing devices.  Apple tends to have the most expensive products for what they are capable of doing.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    20th Century?  18th Century at best!  Textbooks go back farther than that!  I must admit that 1700′s is as far as I can be sure of.
       That does NOT mean that printed books are completely outdated, or bad!

  • kaybee63

    I’d just like to point out that our school doesn’t budget $100 for graphing calculators for each student – the parents cough up those bucks.  What’s more, they’re frequently stolen – I can’t imagine the theft problem when it’s a bunch of iPads lying around.

  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    Before we jump into the great technological web lets talk about real world issues.  Many schools are in need of repairs, roofs leak, desks are old and kids don’t fit in them. 

    Next think about how vulnerable the device will be to theft. The school will be replacing ipads as fast as they pass them out.

    Finally – our schools are doing a poor job of educating our students now. Bringing in fancy technology will not improve test scores, or student retention rates.  

    Lets work on improving those not sexy, but necessary things, before we talk about getting toys.

  • Thomas

    This is not about pedagogy; this is about profit-seeking.  It’s a relatively new market for which publishers and Apple anticipate “doubling” or “tripling” their profits in the next few years.  For some reason the Waldorf Schools, where many technology workers send their kids, aren’t so excited about the entry of tablets and the like into their classrooms…

    • Terry Tree Tree

      What are their explainations of why?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I’m still waiting to hear the reason for doing this–other than jumping on the bandwaggon, that is.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Advantages and disadvantages!
         One laptop, with the capacity of thousands of books?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Who can read thousands of books at once?  Children need to learn focus, not gadgetry.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

          It’s not a matter of reading all the books at once, but that one has access to them should he or she need it.

          Before, if you needed another book, you might need to wait until you can get to the store or the library where they may or may not have a copy available. Now, if a student is studying and finds that he or she needs another source, they can potentially just access it with a click.
          Like it or not, the technology is changing the way people learn. Let’s dedicate our energies towards how best to use the technology instead of fighting the inevitability of that technology.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Nah, I’ll continue to fight the technology.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Please re-think the concept that you are an educator?

  • Anonymous

    This would absolutely result in a better education. As a public school student, I had to turn in my books at the end of each year. I had no chance to go back and relearn important chapters once that grade was done. Having all my textbooks stored digitally would have given me my own reference section that I could keep for life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14100108 Katya d’Angelo

    We’re going to end up a society that cannot write. Already I can see it happening. My brother who is five years younger than I started using computers to do homework much earlier in school than I did, and I believe as a result of this, his handwriting neatness and speed suffered. I also teach and see that in my high school students.

    When I was younger, handwriting notes in school helped me commit the information to memory, and I’m sure that there are studies somewhere that can back that up. What is this technology doing to our children’s ability to retain information?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      I’m sorry to say that handwriting might be one of those “old fashioned” things that will see limited use with keyboards and voice recognition showing up everywhere. 

      On the information retention side, I wonder if the interactive element within the new textbooks is even better than copying the material by hand.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Education is First and Foremost, a parent’s responsibility!   If you don’t take responsibility for your child’s education, and monitor it, you only get what you get!

  • m.shane

    I am a Law student and I studied history as an undergrad. Its my experience that digital resources cut down on busy work and maximize learning. Digital resources are searchable, to look up a word you just click on it and you are whisked to an encyclopaedia or dictionary. You can cut and paste with citation rather than spend hours composing footnotes. Dont fight the future,

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Texas will be able to have their warped textbooks, with the rest of the world able to have sensible, honest textbooks!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The real world is defined by what’s on-line?  Nonsense!

  • Harry

    If it’s about kid’s backpacks they could have done that 10 years ago with a $2 DVD of each book.  This is about money

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      That’s not entirely true. DVDs still require a device to read them, and until the tablet came out, there has not been a format that can compete with the feature of a physical book.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I grade my students’ exams.  That’s my job.  Of course, I give them essay tests, not multiple choice foolishness.

    • Scott

      Where do you teach?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        College-level English in Arkansas, but I’ve also taught in high schools over the years.

  • nj

    1965: “The dog ate my homework.”

    2020: “My iPad crashed.”

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    All this will do is turn students into increasingly busy and distracted ADHD victims.

  • Guest

    We can save TONS of money by firing the TEACHERS who are not doing anything.

  • Yar

    I would prefer a Google Books model, where the platform was independent of the book.  Schools can buy e-books, that they own and can distribute as they see fit.  Many text books could come from the public domain.  Do you really need a new book to teach Algebra each year?

  • Josh Clemons

    #1: For one thing, they would have to make the system not allow anything but research internet, so children would not play games or get distracted by social sites.  #2: This will help with safety. As Tom mentioned this would get rid of the book bags, making weapon toting around a school a little harder to conceal.

  • Madeline

    One question we seem to be ignoring is the effect that the digital medium has on students’ ability to pay a certain kind of attention to a text.  As a literature PhD student, I’ve experienced firsthand the way in which digital texts impose a different mode of reading that readers may not always be aware of.  There are certain texts that don’t lose that much in “digital translation,” but others, e.g. poems, require a kind of slow, patient attention that these new devices discourage.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Computers CAN be made more durable! 
       Vulnerabilities are about equal, maybe not the same, but near equal!

  • Soren

    I’ve done some writing on this topic. For those interested in this topic, please check out the following: http://www.golocalprov.com/business/5-cool-apps-produced-in-ri/ AND http://www.newenglandpost.com/2011/10/10/providence-charter-school-builds-launches-formative-assessment-app-ipad/

  • Joshua Pierce

    If we decide this is an important asset for our education, why can’t we make these or something similar (hopefully cheaper and more tailored specifically for the needs of education) for ourselves, a US version on the OLPC program?  I work in a semiconductor factory here in the states, and we’d love the business.  Even if we didn’t make the components here, why can’t we do the assembly here, run by a government company – we make entry level jobs, and we provide a resource to our students.   Yes, it’s expensive, but what are the long term benefits to our nation if we can provide better education?

  • Candace

    Can your guests say something about the possibility that incorrect facts can be corrected almost instantly???

  • Shana Hopkins

    The Bancroft School is making it mandatory to buy the iPad for next year. This year is a trial year. As a teacher, I have been able to use several apps on the iPad in class, including an interactive whiteboard called Show Me. I can record my voice alongside the instruction and upload it to the class website for students to review later. My students have also used them to access their online texts during class as well. The only issue we have so far with the iPad texts is that none of the interactive pieces work because they are Flash player-based. The support websites are so much more developed, that the iPad is more of a supplement now than the primary resource for the texts.

    We also hope to use these to promote executive function, for organizers, study guides, note-taking, and practice.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Kids get jumped to have their sneakers stolen – what will happen with ipads?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      One of the positive to real textbooks is no one ever wants to steal them

    • Josh Clemons

      Do they get jumped for current text books? If they all have one, it would be negligible. To begin with, I could see this as an issue, but not after a few years.

  • Pat Dolan

    I looked at the teachers requests for funding for projects on DonorsChoose.  In the Boston Public Schools, many were for a single laptop for their classroom.  Do you think this will be realistic for inner city schools?  Dream on!  

  • Anonymous

    One factor that I didn’t learn until college was to actually check the referenced source material. This is especially necessary today with even the hard sciences in question. An active link to source material will help students learn research and critical thinking. 

  • VT-Teacher

    Two thoughts:
    1. Equality (poor vs rich towns and schools). 
    2. Textbooks do not equal teaching or education. Many of the best classrooms do not teach from a textbook. Textbooks are/ should be resources not the curriculum. 

  • BHA in Vermont

    A dedicated (i.e. not internet ‘play’ linked) device would go a LONG way to bringing the cost of text books down to something reasonable. And yes, the 40# backpack. How nice it would be if the kids could actually carry their “texts” in a SMALL backpack rather than a huge one supplemented with one or more shoulder bags. And no “I forgot my chemistry book at school” excuses.

  • Tim

    Both of my kids have school supplied laptops. I am sure on occasion one gets dropped or damaged. For the most part the kids (and parents) are trained on how to treat these devices. For example, there is no need to bring it to the cafeteria where it could get something spilled on it. The benefits such as interactive up to date content outweigh crying over spilled milk on a tablet.

  • Dan Cooper

    I despise these e-readers and i’ll leave it at that.  But this seems like such a good idea.  My daughter’s backpack is criminally heavy, and it would be so easy to customize a selection based on each child’s class schedule, with additional materials and etc as needed.  I’m not sure I see the need for the tablet, but a basic e-reader could probably be provided for free by the publisher and save thousands of small backs.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Allow cell phone jammers in classrooms, and turn off the wifi in the building.  Make the only Internet connection hardwired and under the teacher’s control.

  • CheleB

    My 9 yr old dyslexic son uses a Kindle for his at home reading. By increasing the font size, he reduces the number of words on the page which in turn lowers his anxiety and allows him to read material that is interesting to him. It has taught him that he can enjoy reading.

  • Maura

    I’m in Columbia, SC and my niece in Blythewood, SC uses an IPAD instead of textbooks for all her classes. This is in Middle School. At the beginning of the school year the parents had the option to purchase insurance in case the students lost or dropped the device and they also made an announcement via the local media that these iPads had tracking devices inside them so that the students would not become targets of thieves. One problem that did come up initially was that she was surfing in the middle of the night instead of sleeping. Now the tablet is stored in her parents room when she’s not working on homework. Maura

  • Anne in VT

    There are several things to be considered in a discussion of the move to digital textbooks and tablet devices. 

    First, while they offer new, innovative ways to teach and learn, the turnover in technology is very rapid.  The lifecycle of current electronic devices is now very short, so the $500/ per student would be a recurring cost as technology changes.  And that doesn’t address the overall infrastructure cost within the schools that would be needed to support these devices and their connection to servers and the internet.  Additionally, the technical support required to keep these devices working in order would need to be significant–especially in a classroom setting where rough handling is a given.

    Second, we would need to accomodate multiple platforms unless we want to create a monopoly for one vendor.  Consequently, there would need to be a universal coding standard that could work on any vendor’s platform ala some sort of interactive .pdf format.

    We should probably be working on a way to make these devices multi-user friendly in order to minimize the costs by allowing more than a single student to use the system so that the unit could be classroom based and students could log in to different machines at each class.

  • Mike in Texas

    You’re overlooking college students. My kids can pay 4 to 5 hundred dollars per semester for textbooks. That makes an tablet alternative very attractive!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      What makes you think that the textbook publishers won’t charge the same for e-books?

  • Guest

    This can save us TONS of money since we won’t need teachers in the classroom. All we will need is room monitor. I’m glad we teach at home.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      We’ll still need teachers, regardless of the technology.  Whether we’ll pay for teachers is a different question.

  • Jennefer in Vermont

    Children in the United States watch an average of 3 to 4 hours of television a day and play 13 to 14 hours of video games a week… and now we want to proliferate personal electronics in the classroom.  Goodbye nature, adios fellow humans, hello SCREENS, SCREENS, SCREENS!

    http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_watching_tv

    http://www.diyfather.com/content/Interesting_Statistics_About_Video_Games

  • Amccrary

    Though I am no longer a student, I am a teacher now, but I have a visual disorder where light causes me to have headaches and visual disturbances. I therefore can not look at a computer screen for much longer than an hour at a time. What about the students who may have similar problems, how would you solve the problem of students with special needs as it pertains to electronic textbooks?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      This definitely needs to be rectified!

  • Evelyn

    This could be a great way to break the stranglehold large states like Texas have over the content of textbooks. Textbook content can be so political; with e-textbooks, publishers can tailor the content to the state or school system.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      We can do that now, as long as we have a photocopier budget.

  • Jmc

    has anyone conducted a unit price analysis to the expense to purchase textbooks and bring them to market compared to the expense of buying ipads loaded with the same content?

  • Josh McDonald

    I’m reminded of the classic image of the schoolboy hiding a comic book within the pages of his textbook. Will this technology make it that much easier for the kid to toggle from comic to text whenever the teacher happens by?

  • Debrigard

    Will tablet technology improve US EDUCATION? Let me tell one way it will: no longer will the nation’s children be under the Tyranny of the Texas Board of Education. Publishers will be able to economically tailor textbooks to different markets, so children in Nee York for example, will now learn all about evolution without whereas now publishers who don’t want to lose the large Texan.
    Schoolbook market must cater to Texan creationists. The same applies to other scientific fields, such as the chances there might be extra-terrestrial intelligence, even thou

  • Jmc

    teachers have software that can regulate content in the classrooms

  • Steve; New York City

    E-textbooks cannot be cost-effective for school budgets. Due to rapid developments in technology, as well as short-term obsolescence incorporated into high-tech machines by designers and manufacturers, they will have to be replaced every 2-3 years.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      MANY computers ten years old, are still useable! 
         Cutting Edge, is another thing altogether!

  • a Mom in Massachusetts

    If this technology is ready and waiting, can I, as a parent, pay $14.99 and download these books now to an ipad?  My third grader could use a little extra help with math, and I can’t find any online games or programs I like!  If these books provide extra explanations and practice, I’d gladly pay $15 myself, NOW, for the help!  (It’s a lot cheaper than tutoring at $75+ an hour!).

    • Yar

      Many books have PDF versions available.  The school may have already bought the rights for a digital copy.  You should ask.  

    • Evelyn

      Take a look at khanacademy.org. They have tons of math lessons that are very well-presented, for various levels.

  • Anne in VT

    One other issue is the growing problem of the “digital dark ages” where as technology changes, not everything stored on previous media is converted to the latest and greatest new media and is lost forever. 

  • Yar

    What about one laptop per child?  It is a low cost solution.  That and public domain books could revolutionize education.

  • Pamela

    My daughter is at Burlington High School where every kid got an IPAD 2.  She’s a senior and loves it.  In her  Psych class she said there was a 3-d image of the brain that you could turn around to see various parts – she said it was much easier than flipping around a textbook.

    In the beginning of the year, for $39 we were encouraged to get insurance incase the ipad was lost or broken.  Some kids are not as careful with their ipads, and yeah, it’s a problem.  Most kids, however, are careful.

    As far as distractions, she says the kids who are on the internet or playing Angry Birds are the same kids who were texting in class last year, so it depends on the kid.

    We find it’s much better than lugging around 30lbs of books, all her stuff is in one place and she’s synced it up with her laptop so she can work anywhere.  Some of the teachers had a slow start, she took Helpdesk and since nobody needs help with an IPad, she’s been helping the teachers set up blogs and figure out what to do with this stuff in class.  She’s having a ball with it!

  • bob

    What about safety?  If every student walking home from school has a $500 ipad in their backpack, doesn’t that make them a target?

  • BHA in Vermont

    What are the odds that a ‘device’ given to a student this year WON’T be obsolete before 4 years?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      That it won’t be obsolete?  As near to zero as we can get in the real world.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The guest said that her school surveyed students about whether they enjoyed using the gadgetry.  Of course the kids enjoyed it.  But that’s not a reason to change.

  • Tim Weiskel

    Potentially very dangerous for real education.  E-Books collapse education into training.  Education has to do with learning how to evaluate and make mature, reasoned judgments.  Training is just learning skills.  E-Books and E-training is great for training techniques BUT absolutely useless for fostering education — ie. the capacity to learn, evaluate, and develop mature judgment.
      
    Worse yet, by collapsing real education to a sequence of “training modules” there is a further danger that even this will simply deteriorate further into a degraded form of entertainment.  When coupled with student “evaluations” — which focus upon whether or not students “enjoyed” the course, this tendency towards techno-mediated training threatens to degrade the entire educational system into an extension of the entertainment industry.

    There is no wonder why Europeans sit back in amazement and disgust as they see America’s education system decline into a self-referential series of “feel-good” stroking sessions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      Education is already headed in the direction of training. I’ve seen too many classes reduced to test prep sessions. 

      eBooks are just tools like the books they are updating. I don’t think it’s fair to damn the tool for something that is done by the people using the tools.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jim.bullard Jim Bullard

    While digital textbooks are a good idea IMO I am concerned about the Apple iPad proposal because the new Ipad authoring EULA prohibits the author from selling the work they create in the iAuthoring software through any other venue than iTunes. This has two negative effects: first is monopoly, the schools are locked into iPads vs any other tablets/e-readers, second it gives Apple censorship power over educational materials through their choice of what to accept.

    • Jmc

      you could argue that schools are locked into Microsoft products for instruction right now, Apple could provide an option

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        Thank you jmc.

        • Concerned Teacher/Parent

          However, Microsoft doesn’t limit your ability to sell a presentation created with PowerPoint or a document created with Word. ;)

          • Alex

            I share the Concerned Teacher’s concern. Despite Apple’s liberating message in their famous 1984 commercial, they have been anything but liberating. Their model is based on creating a closed Apple universe where the hardware and the content are bound together and, if you are in,  you can go nowhere else.  Not only that. The content is tied to the specific purchaser so you cannot share or transfer it, unlike regular books and CDs. Somehow, it does not seat well with me to be beholden to a single purveyor of educational materials. 

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            One of the many reasons you can’t easily share these things is that publishers (music and print) want to keep control of copyrighted materials. As one who sells copyrighted materials, I share that concern.

            You can always rip a CD and do as you like with it, within the iTunes universe or any other universe. It’s the music you download from the iTunes music store that comes with limits on the number of devices it can be put on and this limitation comes directly from publishers.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Apple certainly does allow you to sell anything you make with Keynote (powerpoint equivalent) or Page (word equivalent). I sell things I make with Pages every day. ;)

          • Concerned Teacher/Parent

            but not iBook Author. Adobe allows me to create, multipurpose, and sell content created in Adobe InDesign. The point is that the EULA for iBook Author doesn’t need to be so limiting. If I create music in GarageBand, I’m not told that I can only sell that in the iTunes Store. If iBook Author is such a truly remarkable tool that can change the way we create textbooks, why limit the technology? If you try to make the argument that they are giving it away for free, I would argue that I would gladly pay $10-20 (like their other offerings) in the Mac App store if it lifted the restrictions.

    • Charlene Chausis

      However, the author can freely distribute the content created.

  • Jp40

    This may have already come up, but if a school is spending $300 on books per student, then in two years time they have the cost of the ipad which has many more applications than just english, history, science and math.  It can be used in music class, art class, etc.  Schools can afford the ipad now.

  • Alex

    Will it be possible to sell a “used” digital textbook after the end of the semester?  

    • Charlene Chausis

      Not in the current model from Apple’s iBookstore. 

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Charlene is right but we can hope that either the model will change or something will change making it possible.

      This is not just Apple who is preventing this, it’s publishers.

  • Dr. Sean Gresh

    Tom, Every student in Burlington High School, Burlington, Massachusetts has an iPad — the school system bought 1200 of them.  And I visited there last week with educators from Ipswich, Mass (I’m on the Ipswich School Committee) and was impressed with how well the iPad experiment is not just working well but is helping to transform the Burlington school system.  And from a financial point of view, it’s an economically sound choice to go with iPads.  And Burlington hopes to have virtually all its textbooks available on iPads in the near future.  Thanks, Sean Gresh

  • Gisscottheron

    If this technology is used like Teachers in our district use powerpoint this will be an epic fail……we are talking about spending millions to see kids use notebooks and what is happening is mixed the data hasn’t shown that the notebooks help raise test scores one Iota.

    This tech goes bad faster than bananas at is the replacement cost cycle  its bad enough trying to pay for text books. And it doesn’t even address the nightmare of SOPA or PIPA and who  owns the electronic copyrights to Americans education system with electronic copy rights being 65 years its a quagmire

  • Pat Dolan

    A friend, who taught in the 80s and again in the 00s, found that in the 00s the students would not do homework.  He’d assign it, but few would do it.  Ignoring assignments was the norm and was accepted by the administration.  The kids were defended by their parents if he tried to enforce doing homework. These were middle class people paying tuition for their kids education. 

    The assumption that you could send kids home with iPads and that the kids would use them for homework, freeing class time for advanced discussion, seems naive to me. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      The device is not to blame here. 

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        Well said Joe. Sounds like “dysparentia” to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    ipads are computers – computers need admins – for repair, upgrades, system issues, and just problems from pilot error. Devices do need regular care and feeding.

    So do schools hire admins? Hire a service? If one kid is having a problem with their ipad do they sit out until it’s fixed?

    Also kids do need to be taught how to use them – new kids coming into a district could get hopelessly lost and behind trying to catch up to the kids who have used them for years.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      How many people with smart phones have an “admin” to help them service it? Most people just use it and have no problems with it.

      Devices these days are increasingly robust, so while there will be issues, the will probably not be as dire as you’re saying.

      • Bob

        Well, if iPhones are your benchmark, my household (with two phones) has been to a Mac store 4 times in the two years we’ve owned the devices to get tech support for SEVERE technical problems.

        Devices these days are designed tonbe the exact of “robust.” They are designed to be disposable and obsolete within 2 years or so, in contrast to, say, a computer from the 1980s which I have that still runs perfectly. Apple makes tech support easier for them by having a fascist proprietary hardware and software policy that lets them have total control over how your device is constructed and what you’re allowed to put on it… but my experience (imcluding Mac computers) is that weird stuff still can happen with shocking frequency.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

          you’re using a selective set of anecdotes to form a picture of reality. You only remember the bad and not the good.

          Also, I didn’t say apple, I said smart phones. If millions of people can install and play Angry Birds, I see that as evidence that the majority of people have very little problems with the technology.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Very well said. Joe Lee, I’d love to buy you a beer.

            In my family Macs, iPads and iPhones trickle down and we routinely get quite a bit of use out of them before we sell, trade them in, or recycle them (http://www.apple.com/recycling/).

            While no device is completely trouble free, we’ve had very little trouble with any of our stable of Apple devices. Yes, we routinely buy Applecare for everything just to be safe but have only used it a few times.

            As more people buy devices (Apple sold over 37 million iPhones last quarter) there will no doubt be stories about problems and some people are bound to have a tough time learning how to use them. Most people, however, don’t have problems and get things figured out and get up and running. Kids seem to be the leaders in this category.

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        Well said. The service/IT problem exists with some people running a VCR or DVD player. Younger people seem to get these devices right out of the box. Some older people and certain commenters in this thread will resist but they tend to be the exception, not the rule.

        My wife is an “older” teacher who uses all sorts of technology in her classroom and when she doesn’t know something her students help her out.

  • Anonymous

    One quesiton: battery life –  in the past, the way batteries are discharged affects battery life; with childeren operating these, how are you going to manage battery life to maximize it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      Battery technology has progressed enough that this isn’t anywhere as bad as it used to be. 

      Batteries still wear, but usage models no longer damage rechargeable batteries these days.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      It’s a good question: an iPad gets about 10 hours on a full charge, a Kindle Fire gets about the same (both color screens). The more one uses the radios and processor, the more challenge to battery life. Streaming and watching videos, doing many interactive things inside these ePub books, and other thing impact battery life.

      I routinely get a whole day out of my iPad no matter what I do with it and my guess is that school-suppiled devices will be recharged overnight in a rack and will probably be fine for a typical school day.

      Joe Lee is right, the Lithium Ion batteries in most of these devices, once “calibrated” can be charged and discharged at all and have no memory of being charged from 1/2 charge. Calibration is simple: when the device is new, use it until it dies, then fully charge, then use it until it dies, then fully charge, then use and charge at will. Unlike nicad and NIMH batteries, lithium ion batteries seem to be free from memory problems with random charging.

  • Jmc

    just think of all of the trees that would be saved, my activist statement of the day.

  • Vermont Jayhawk

    Clearly, Katie Ash has never observed a 13-year-old boy who is doing homework online.  The idea that a teacher can effectively monitor an entire classroom of students, each working on his/her own screen, is absurd, as is her comparison of texting to good old-fashioned “note passing.” Even the most diligent students succumb to the distractions of the internet, iPod apps, etc., let alone those children for whom academic learning is difficult.

  • Amyfarley

    Tom, 
    One must consider the socio-economic implications.  I have advocated for economic balance in schools and am painfully aware of the disparity of opportunity and resources between economic classes.  Electronic textbooks could cut both ways.  They may help balance the playing field in that students who may not have the same kind of access to the internet and to devices at home will have new opportunities.  At the same time, those students may be at a disadvantage in their familiarity with operating technology.  Training for all students must be included.  

    Economic disparity should be a key issue in all education policy decisions.  

    Thanks. 

  • Josh Clemons

    My daughter has a new Kindle we got her for Christmas. She loves to read! Unfortunately, the LEARNING CURVE of putting books on it has brought her to still choose printed books from the library.

  • Pingback: Big Conversation on NPR’s On Point on Using the Apple iPad in the Classroom | From the Desk of Keith Parnell

  • BHA in Vermont

    Interesting in that the Burlington Free Press recently had 2 ‘featured’ articles on the same day. One on Burlington High School planning to spend $5M in the next 4 years to go “one to one” (while planning to cut $200K in other areas next year) and the other on the Lake Champlain Waldorf School which intentionally has NO computer or video devices in the school.

  • Luisella Simpson

    I welcome the digital revolution’s capacity to revolutionize
    teaching material, which help clever teachers will, as ever, enhance.

     

    The last such revolution took place in the later 19th
    c, when History and Geography books, for example, started being illustrated
    with what would become unforgettable icons for their contemporaries: think of
    “the Princes in the Tower”, etc.

     

    As we move into the new age, I’d like to share my
    gratefulness for my own school textbook of the early 1960s, “Exploring the New
    World” and “Exploring the Old World”, Their well-crafted historical narratives
    and chosen images were well suited to what an eager child could peruse even on
    his own, and relish. As we move into the “whirling” of multiplied images and
    narratives, let not the modern haste to earn a quick buck make those offerings
    any less well researched and crafted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

    Reading through the comments, I picked up on an interesting point. Are the teachers going to be able to take advantage of this technology? Would we need to train teachers on how to fully utilize all the features of this new technology?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      If I get a choice, no, I won’t use this.  I teach things worth learning, not gadgetry.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

        I’m not talking about choice, I’m talking about ability. Any new techniques will require work on the part of the teachers to become proficient in using it.

        Actually, I find your comments to be very disturbing. I see you being very defensive and not open to the possibilities that new techniques can bring. Granted, there is a lot of discussion and research that needs to be done over whether this is a good thing and how best to use this technology. But completely rejecting it outright without thoughtful consideration isn’t a very wise decision.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          I’ve been watching the push to include “technology” in the classroom for years.  It has nothing to do with learning.  It’s all about appearing to be in touch with the fads.  I don’t need gadgets, other than a writing board–chalk, white, whatever–to do my job.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

            Some of the push might be a fad, but technology itself isn’t. And completely ignoring it is denying a reality.

            Whether you use it or not, eBooks, wikipedia and google exist. From what you’re saying, I think about what my experience in school and university were like. I would much prefer the environment now and I see the amazing amount of information made accessible by technology as being mostly beneficial to those who choose to use them.

            There are always going to be people who copy out of something like wikipedia, but that’s not the fault of the technology.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            Well said Joe. 

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Yet, Greg uses the internet, and one would conclude, a computer of some type.   There is hope for him, yet?

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            I don’t think so… He’s making his comments here with “chalk.”

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Depending on your subject, you may or may not.  If the tech could HELP the students, and you don’t, you are holding your students back!

    • Charlene Chausis

      If teachers are using the electronic text provided by the publisher, there is minimal training involved in the basic navigation of the text. For creating their own content, there is a learning curve.

  • Anonymous

    One big issue is Distraction Control. How do encourage kids to focus on the lesson at hand? Can your prevent kids from resisting the tablet’s power of distraction?

  • Irradiating Kids with WiFI

    The show would not allow me to talk about health concerns. I was in queue, ready to go, but they don’t want to talk about it. Still taking phone calls though.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Your point is important but it’s not exclusive to these devices and eTextbooks, many schools have open and closed wifi networks up and running right now. This doesn’t add more radiation (if that’s a problem), it may not change a thing except the types of devices used to connect to it.

      • Peter

        The problem isn’t just the routers, every screen has a powerful antenna in it, just a foot or two from the user’s face or chest (brain or heart) that is always on when these machines are on or at the desk next to them. We just don’t know yet, but we are conducting one hell of an experiment while a few mega corporations are raking in more money than I can think of a visual image of. How many students are there in this country? New textbooks every 2,3 years? We may be left with sick children and adults while all Apple has to do is declare bankruptcy and walk away with very full pockets.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          Peter: you make it sound like Dell doesn’t make wifi equipped computers or that Motorola doesn’t make wifi equipped phones. Apple is just one of many companies who use wifi to allow their devices to connect to a router or to one another.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    John Bailey seems to really get it, I’m amazed that I agree with a former member of the Bush administration.

  • BHA in Vermont

    One benefit of digital textbooks:
    When a printing error is found ALL current and future ‘owners’ of the text will get a fixed version. Who hasn’t had their kid work and rework a problem and not come up with the same answer as the book shows in the back, only to find out that the answer in the book is WRONG?

  • Eric

    Android tablets are *not* cheaper. For an Android tablet with the same screen size, they’re the same price as the Apple iPad.

    The only Android tablets that are cheaper are much, much smaller.

  • MS5515

    Electrokite, Interactive is a creator of Common Core Standards based IWB lessons that also are available on iTunes as APPS for iPads. This offers continuity for the teaching in class and doing the same lessons at home on the student’s iPad.

  • Alicia

    This will further the division between the haves and have-nots: rich school and districts will get the best technologies and the widest breadth of information.  Impoverished students will, literally, be left in the dark.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      May be.  Maybe NOT. 
          The capabilities of the lower-cost teaching tech, is NOT that much lower than the high-price tech!

  • Gisscottheron

    Will textbook publisher charge for each use every year?  Textbooks at our schools last as long as ten years but as I understand it with electronic media and copy right law schools will be charged every single year and using megaupload will be declared illegal to pay it forward year after year.

    • Charlene Chausis

      In the model that Apple announced last week, the textbook becomes the property of the student. This is different than what I have seen at the college level, where textbooks are “rented” to a student and expire after a set amount of time. It does make it easier for college student to not have to “sell their book” back to the bookstore. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Ask the publishers?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    People are looking at this from the angle of shiny, new ipads.

    Schools can’t afford to replace books now – what happens when those ipads are old and dying? Or dead?

  • Anne Krauss

    The larger discussion overlooked here is what will happen with copyright in the digital age. Encyclopedia makers have largely been put out of business by Wikipedia, which makes its content available directly from its authors using various copyrights. I’m oversimplifying, but basically the choice of license is made by the individual author with the restriction that sharing is allowed. If the best model that Apple and the big publishers can come up with is  to charge $15 per student per copy, they will soon go the way of Kodak and the buggy whip.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Anne: Wikipedia is open source: we’re all the authors there. We can post articles and edit others. There is no copyright unless material is reposted verbatim which is frowned upon.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About

      I think you’re right that Apple and the big publishers thought long and hard about how to handle both copyright and purchase and keeping the price low (schools will no doubt have bulk purchase pricing) will allow more people to get books.

      The question asked elsewhere and not answered yet is whether there will be an aftermarket for these textbooks. I doubt students who buy them will want to keep them on their iPads forever and it might be nice to find a way to sell or trade them. Maybe trade your license back to Apple for a credit toward a new book.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Anne: Wikipedia is open source: we’re all the authors there. We can post articles and edit others. There is no copyright unless material is reposted verbatim which is frowned upon.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About

      I think you’re right that Apple and the big publishers thought long and hard about how to handle both copyright and purchase and keeping the price low (schools will no doubt have bulk purchase pricing) will allow more people to get books.

      The question asked elsewhere and not answered yet is whether there will be an aftermarket for these textbooks. I doubt students who buy them will want to keep them on their iPads forever and it might be nice to find a way to sell or trade them. Maybe trade your license back to Apple for a credit toward a new book.

  • L armond

    When my neighbor passed, I found in the trash heap a lab book from Coyne (sp?) electric, an apprenticeship program, all the complete handwritten notes, with sketches, of electricity, from basic up to power transmission, with ‘hints about the future.’  It was dated in the 1930′s or ’40s.  His notes in that bound lab book they were given became his reference for life, and my treasure of remembering him, and changed the life of the child I gave it to.

    • Charlene Chausis

      This is a one of the drawbacks in digital text. You cannot “give” or pass on your etextbook to another. However, more textbooks are allowing social connectedness, so that my highlights can be shared in the learning community!

  • ebw343

    The last caller pointed out that blocking out external distractions is a skill kids’ll have to learn, to which I’d add “..to survive in the adult world in the future.”

  • Noreen

     @font-face {
    font-family: “Times New Roman”;
    }@font-face {
    font-family: “Bookman Old Style”;
    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Bookman Old Style”; }p.MsoEnvelopeAddress, li.MsoEnvelopeAddress, div.MsoEnvelopeAddress { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 2in; font-size: 14pt; font-family: “Bookman Old Style”; }p.MsoEnvelopeReturn, li.MsoEnvelopeReturn, div.MsoEnvelopeReturn { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 14pt; font-family: “Bookman Old Style”; }p.MsoPlainText, li.MsoPlainText, div.MsoPlainText { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Courier; }div.Section1 { page: Section1The iPad textbook complete with text, lectures, tests
    and self-grading will replace the teacher, becoming the new distance learning,
    the new correspondence course, the new home schooling.  iPad expense and support will be paid
    for at the expense of the teacher.
     

    • Yar

      Noreen, well said.

    • Charlene Chausis

      The teacher is more important than ever in this digital society! Students need guidance and direction in learning, whether from digital or analog sources. The teacher is the key element in crafting the education experience so that all learners can master content, no matter what their particular learning style may be.

  • Metathustra

    The notion of interactive textbooks with enhanced content is exciting and sexy. However, I’ve often been enthralled by material that I’ve found by opening a textbook to a random page  or flipping pages. That’s harder to do on a tablet.

    • Charlene Chausis

      In the new textbooks just released, actually flippiing pages and randomly perusing has gotten quite easy.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Actually, as Charlene says, flipping pages is easy on a tablet but of course, there’s also search and many more ways to index (tags, etc.) information. Just being able to search through text is a huge thing. Can’t do that with an analog book.

  • Terry from Franklin

    From what I’ve seen the lower priced Android tablets have less features and memory.  Maybe no WiFi.  Maybe only 1Gig of memory rather than 16 or 32.  Maybe no SD or MicroSD port for extended storage.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Terry: The power of the device is less meaningful as long as the device runs the content you want. If you could get all the content you wanted on the 99 dollar Kindle with its eInk screen, fantastic. It’s less about the power of the device, more about which device universe will have access to the particular set of information you want.

      That’s why Apple is attempting to get publishers on board with their initiative, so the content is there. No doubt Amazon has a similar initiative and we’ll see a similar announcement from them which will be great as the competition will lower prices and make each system better.

  • Ray

    WiFi laptops have been found to damage DNA and fertility in less than 4 hours. Why would we even consider taking these kinds of risk with our children?

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/238455.php

  • Joe Ellner

    Competition: working in education I see the the USA does not compete well in Math and science. I also see our school systems struggle to meet the needs of students who require more time attention. Can a digital delivery system provide our performing students the opportunity to excell and compete globaly in Science and math. Can our political system allow a stark division between those who excell and those who struggle. Can we provide more resources to those who need it without taking resources from those who require less to acxelll?

  • Joe Ellner

    Advertising: Today we allow local employers to buy ad space in school music and play programs and yearbooks. Some schools have cisco and microsoft technology programs. Will a digital delivry system allow for profit and nonprofit colleges, technology, media, and local companies to provide advertising to off set educational cost.

  • L armond

    It might be another one of those ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ situations, i.e., if they issued a shield to protect the child, then that might set off alarms and upset their cash flow.  There are those that think that any updated textbook is ‘of the devil. They  don’t believe in safety factors, they want proof, i.e. mass graves, I guess.  I haven’t followed the issue, but there is good and bad and you have to keep your own counsel.  You can bet someone is staking out the contract, and writing the rules to benefit their friends and family, and not children.  Laws of nature are never respected, except in the old country.  UnAmerican to look, see, speak truth.  That is anecdote.  We can’t have that.  It is not politically correct.

  • Chris Danielsen

     
    As a blind person and an advocate, I always sturggled with the fact that my textbooks weren’t timely translated into Braille or audio, often leaving me sitting in class without access to the same book that my peers were using. Digital textbooks have the potential to solve this problem; however, with the possible exception of Apple and Course Smart, most digital publishers are designing their content in such a way that blind students still can’t access it. Thus, the blind and other students who can’t read print and must access information in other ways face the possibility of being on the wrong side of a “digital divide,” just as low-income students do.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      That’s bad business on the part of the publishers!
         The capabilities are THERE!

  • Terry from Franklin

    I’ve wondered why some textbooks are so expensive.  How much has intro to US History changed except for ?  How about a precalculus math text book?  An intro to Inorganic Chemistry text?  IMHO one could source all the material for many classes using public domain materials.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      I agree.

      The worst textbook I ever had to buy was one that was written by one of my professors and he used it in his class. It was flimsy and full of mistakes, but since the course was a required course for the degree program, I had to shell out my cash for it. 

    • Pease

      Text books are so expensive not because of the content but because of the time to generate that content.  A technical writer can process in final professional form 1/6th of a page per hour after the core technical content is known.  A 300 page book then requires 1800 hours.  If that writer’s salary ranges between $50k-$200k (upper end for senior faculty at Ivy League schools) plus benefits ($25/hr-$100/hr), the cost of that book is at minimum $45,000 just to write it and as high as $180,000.  That cost has to be spread across the folks who purchase it.  Clearly this is not a problem for a middle school or highschool text, but these costs coupled with the limited circulation at the college level does drive the cost structure there.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s what wikipedia is attempting to do: open source the world book encyclopedia (for example).

  • Barry

    One of the things that schools do, in their traditional configuration, is protect the learning environment from outside influences.  The fact that the vested interests of corporations like Apple in making incursions into this formerly sacred spaces was such a little part of this discussion indicates to me how completely we have already been hypnotized by the lure of technology.  The ideology of consumer capitalism- value identified with things and an ethos in which nothing trumps serving one’s individual interests- will be the overriding and ever present “hidden curriculum” in schools of the future, and it is hard to underestimate its influence on everything young people learn about the world and how it functions.

    Barry

    • AC

      guess why Ben Franklin pushed for free public education & libraries?
      Cuz he owned a printing press!!!! <3 Ben, so clever….

  • Pease

    As a professor who administers hybrid multiple choice and free response exams that are currently paper based, I would like to offer my students the option of using ebooks.  However, ebooks and the internet present additional opportunities for students to cheat.  What options are available for me to prevent cheating if they are online during the test time?  Ebooks open a whole new can of worms…

    • Professional Student

      Simply put an encryption on your wifi network, it does not take long to do and then your students have no way of accessing the internet.

      If you wish the tests to be taken on the tablet computers then it will take a little bit more setting up. All you would have to do is have the ebook be online (NOT a download), that way students can only access it via the internet. Then when test time comes, make the test a read-only document (an option when saving the document) and have them download it to begin the test. That way you can switch off the encryption you already made for your wifi and have everyone download it, then simply reenable the encryption.

      It is much easier to leave the tests on paper and have the books/resources online. Then you can cut students off from all those with the click of a button and not worry about them cheating with the tablet.

  • Anonymous

    A good fraction of students don’t use textbooks at all.

    Kids have some incentives to attend class. They don’t have to pay attention.

    What are the incentives to engage in an interactive learning experience with a machine?

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s an excellent question. I’ll give you just 1 from my limited experience with an iTextbook:

      I can take notes in the book and see the notes in an orderly form in a single space. In other words, I can click on a paragraph, take a note about it, then read on, then click on another paragraph later in the book, take a note on it, then read on and keep going. Later, when I want to review my notes I click on “notes” and they’re all there. I can view and review them individually or in a list. I think this feature alone is spectacular and would have helped me tremendously in school had I had it (and had I used it, which I can’t be sure of because in K-12 I was out to lunch).

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think we are living in the same dimensions.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          What dimension are you living in? I thought I answered your question with my own experience (not theory).

          In many schools we have students read textbooks and take notes, then study those notes for a test or to write a paper. This process is fundamentally changed with an electronic textbook as I’ve experienced it and I think once a student experiences this that will be an incentive to continue to use it and do more work.

          Or, are you saying that in your experience students don’t read textbooks at all, don’t pay attention in class and so how is a machine going to change that? If that’s the question I don’t know, that’s less a problem for school, more a problem for parents and home. Electronic text books can’t parent kids but they can offer a more accessible (for many although not all) way into the material and process of learning in school.

          • Anonymous

            that’s great.

            I just think that students need to
            want to look at the book or take notes of any kind.

            A lot of k-12 students are not motivated to do either.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            I agree with you that some (I don’t know how many) students lack motivation to do school. While I think these electronic textbooks are useful for students who want to use them, I’m not sure they provide a magnet that pulls students who aren’t engaged in school in.

            That leverage ought to be coming from a student’s parents, don’t you think?

            Literacy begins at home.

            Once a student is engaged in school then a good teacher needs to provide an interesting curriculum and the right tools to keep them engaged. An electronic textbook can be one of those tools. There are many others.

  • jimhefferon

    I have offered an open source college mathematics text for more than a decade.  My college has been very generous about supporting my efforts, but many places would not have been so supportive.

    Also, as far as Apple goes, the EULA is an issue.  You have to sell through them, no other possibility if you want to sell.  That’s evil.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      That’s not true. You can sell your digital textbook any way you like. If you want Apple to carry it in their iBook store, then yes, you have to sell it through them, just like if you want Amazon to carry it you have to sell it through them.

      • Concerned Teacher/Parent

        If you create the digital textbook using iBook Author, you are not allowed to sell the work in any other way. You are allowed to distribute the book for free through whatever distribution method you like.

  • tskehan

    Forget open source!  I can’t even listen to your program anymore.  You haven’t turned Wiki/Google on me have you?

    My media player opens to a darkened screen.  What gives?

  • alex

    What if I don’t want my child staring at a screen all day long for their entire lives? Babies being born right now are playing with iphones and ipads already. When are they going to experience our amazing world and interaction with other humans, like teachers and students in collaborative learning.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      When their parents get them to experience the world!

  • Jacobzacks

     i am a student that uses an iPad 2 under an IEP, i have to say this is an amazing education tool that I use on a daily basis. This is great for taking notes and keeps me organized, it also eliminates some weight in my bag. With the introduction of the interactive textbooks, i can’t wait to see how this is taking off and being able to integrate this in to my learning. What do you think the pro’s are of having the iPad

  • Glenn Koenig

    Within this discussion are the seeds of a complete revolution in learning.  After all, the definition of a textbook that I remember  was “a book that no one would ever read unless assigned to do so.”
    Look, our entire school model was forged in an age when information was scarce and one had to find a school or library to learn anything from written text.  Now, that’s completely changed.  We live in an ocean of information.  It’s not what you know, but what questions to ask and how to look for what you want to know.  So, the entire classroom / textbook model is obsolete.

    • Kizzy

      The important part of learning has always been knowing what you don’t know – to paraphrase your post, knowing which questions to ask and how to look for the answers. Pursuing knowledge beyond the obvious has always separated the good students, the scholars, and the successful from those who saw textbooks only as something they had to get through, whether we’re talking about 1812 or 2012. If you aren’t motivated to ask questions–usually by a teacher or your fellow students–you won’t take advantage of paper or digital information. Why does this discussion always have to be either/or? Both forms of information are useful. There is little doubt that digital delivery will become the standard at some point. But it won’t negate the need for teachers, interaction, or basic texts to give students a starting point from which to navigate the “ocean of information.” 

  • Juan Lopez

    Why only on tablets, laptops works just the same

    • http://Zulama.com Nikki Navta

      no, laptops don’t take advantage of the touch and swipe gestures that the pads do

      • Terry Tree Tree

        So?  People can’t learn on a laptop?

        • http://Zulama.com Nikki Navta

          They can learn on a laptop, it just sounded as if you were saying there’s no difference between a tablet and a laptop. The interactivity on tablets is much different than that on a laptop.

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  • John Riley

    VERY disappointed with the fickle bias in this story.  A topic with such enormous societal implications warrants more skepticism.  Where were the voices of common sense in this story?

    Most obviously, individuating our childrens’ learning experience would likely limit retention, dialectic development, and fundamental comprehension.  Schools work because they incubate group experience.  We are interactive creatures, and we learn and work best in company.  I scarce doubt that many a beleaguered teacher would welcome a pacifier to our medicated democracy, but the best among them would not tolerate slogans of technological salvation and corporate drumrolls to parade roughshod in our halls of learning.

    We should likewise not underestimate the primacy of tactile experience in long term learning.  How often we remember the location of a passage on a page when we have forgotten the exact page or what was denoted there.  This intangible sense is not important of itself, but in its bondage to the greater intimacy that exists when we as humans engage our sense of touch.  There is no space to pitch a thesis, but just as our gestures frequently connote our emotions, our physical contacts with the outside world couple with internal developments.  You are much more likely to remember something you have written than something you have tapped or typed.  Contact with a machine such as a tablet or smart-phone satisfies a manipulative impulse, but so much of the user’s role is preprogrammed.  Anyone concerned about the vitality of the upcoming generation’s engagement should be concerned with the intricacy (tactile and otherwise) of the interactions in which they engage.

    Lastly, the enthusiasm some students demonstrate towards tablet computing in class would likely dissipate quickly once the method becomes commonplace.  How then might students be compelled to gaze at their mini-screens and work quietly at their programmed tasks?  It’s probable the rosy visions shared would commence a transformation from the teacher as known to iPad Bosun, or something resembling an assembly-plant manager.
     
    Will Western decline at last be quenched when when we splinter our children in the one institution most central to our collective aspiration?  This device would interject a modicum of separation which would inevitably diminish the relationship between teachers and students.

    Apple may be a fine company, but it is not a savior.  Tablet computing will mark a decline in education, communitarian ideals, and general aptitude in the population.  I am aghast that not one contributor aired leveraged any faculty to interrogate this lucrative trojan horse.

    New tools might indeed beget a better product, but they won’t produce better craftsmen.

  • Sasha

    I’d like to know how the most recent Apple products (iTune U, iBook2 and iBook Author)are compared to CMS such as Moodle and Blackboard. I am a language teacher. I care about interaction and collaboration online or in the classroom. Can Apple make CMS obsolete soon or later ? I’d appreciate any answers …

  • S W Bardot

    Look to the Kno tablet, not to Apple’s iPad, for ready to deliver formatting for textbook study and annotation. Perhaps one shall smother the other at this large and important niche, but I doubt there’s not room for both. Also, watch out for this 20th versus 21st century and vice-versa crap. The only fault with the 20th century’s contributions to computer assisted education was the lousy pedagogy of the course offerings. The article above indicates that the promoters haven’t learned any lessons from what dim-witted desciples of Thorndike espoused in that last century. So far the 21st century isn’t showing any improvement, but then that goes for public education in general, except for those nifty “black boards.”
    Go Kno!

    • Slipstream

      I was curious about this Kno tablet that you mentioned, and a quick web search shows that Kno has decided not to manufacture tablets and is instead focusing on selling electronic textbooks for web or Mac use.

  • Veda

    I am very concerned about the EMF emissions from such devices. I am sensitive to microwave radiation, as I spent too much time on a cell phone years ago, so I learned to feel them.  I recently bought an Ipod touch, but I find I have to limit the use of it or I get a headache.  I feel they are just as strong as cell phones over a short range.  We need to consider this in our headlong rush to embrace new technologies and bathe in multiple overlapping microwave sources(WiFii’s, cell phones, etc.).  How much can we risk our children’s future??????

    • Happyg

      you’re nuts.

      • brs dasa

        you’re nuts.

    • Professional Student

      Please do not use scare tactics to make others throw this idea out. You ask ‘how much can we risk our children’s future??????’ well unless children are sitting next to a screen practically 24/7 there is a very small chance they will develop disabilities from EMF emissions. I am in high school myself and have many devices such as a kindle fire, ipod touch, smartphone, laptop, etc. and yet I have NEVER been disturbed by the EMF emissions. Take into consideration that to use a text book on a tablet you do not hold it up to your face. If you have a reading problem you can increase the size of the text so that you can hold it at a safe distance from your body. Please try using an e-reader before commenting as though we should hide children from any screen within sight.

  • Zohreh

    I beleive the attention book publishing and other companies have been paying to this matter is past due.  I did a little research a couple of years ago on the heavy backpack issue when I saw my 10 year old (then) tumbled on the bus step as he was ascending the school bus.  I did not have to look far to notice alarming facts on the affect of heavy backpack alone which could be eleminated by utilizing digital media.  There are many more.. Now we do not need to buy all students an Ipad(though would be nice:) but a low end ereader could save amny pounds off a kid’s back.

  • Slipstream

    I am a licensed teacher and education professional.  People get all excited about this latest technology stuff, but when you get down to the facts, you still have to teach kids to read, write, and think seriously.  That is the main goal of education, and it is hard work all around, and it doesn’t matter so much whether you do it on a battered old paperback or a shiny new Ipad.  

    But if there is something that helps accomplish these goals, then why not use it?  Being able to design and keep visually enriched lessons is tempting.  I guess Apple is leading the way with these things, as it has before.  But why does it have to be on Apple products?  Can’t they come up with something that can be created / viewed / worked on / shared over a variety of platforms – PCs, tablets, laptops, et cetera?  

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  • Professional Student

    Too many people seem to be afraid of a techonological change. The idea of having textbooks on a tablet computer is simply fantastic. Benefits such as having the ability to hold a finger over a word and see its definition, and making instant notes, are invaluable resources. Teachers would be able to tailor a book to fit their class, while making the material more interactive and interesting.

    Look at this technology as an enhancement of textbooks. Try not to let fear bod down your opinion of the idea. As a high school student I find this article to be exciting as a potential for schools to finally begin catching up with our rapidly changing world.

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