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


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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