At least a couple of times a year, Apple holds massive events to introduce the latest wonder gadget. They’re full of pomp and circumstance and great products. The media shows up in throngs and every detail of the new device is scrutinized.
And at other times, Apple quietly hosts an event with a small crowd and few cameras. Often these events are much more important in the grand scheme of improving the quality of life through technology. Don’t look now but they may have done it again.
Now, I’m far removed from my school days, but I can still remember my backpack full of books causing no small amount of damage to whatever it landed on; namely, a coffee table and my foot (multiple times). At one point in high school, my backpack weighed 22 lbs. It was also crammed full of notecards, study guides, vocabulary, etc. – never organized and usually destroyed. I remember the terror of accidentally ripping a page in a school issued textbook or splashing a page with soda as I studied; praying they skipped those pages when inspecting the book at the end of the year.
Little of that changed in college – where all of the aforementioned hassles were accompanied by $100-200 price tags. Even used books weren’t all that more affordable and seemed to always comes with someone else’s highlights and notes in the margin.
Now imagine walking to class with nothing but an iPad. All of your textbooks stored digitally. All of them designed to be an immersive experience with sideshows, demonstrations and interactive widgets. Easily searchable instead of flipping back to the index, defining words with a tap, highlighting and making notes, and interactive quiz questions. Oh yeah, and customizable flash cards of any vocabulary terms or other notes you’ve created throughout a chapter.
Imagine no longer. You can see it in action by CLICKING HERE
Did you watch it?
Pretty cool, huh?
What if it was only $15 per textbook?
Say what?!?! Does this really mean the days of the $200 college textbooks are finally over? In an unprecedented deal with publishers, Apple has managed to lock in the price of textbooks to $14.99 or less. This was made very clear in regard to high school texts. Many are still waiting with bated breath for the first college text to hit the iBooks Store. If indeed all texts are less than $15, this may see widespread adoption very rapidly.
Apple’s release today of iBooks 2 (and their new iBooks Author app for Mac) will forever change the way students interact with their course material. Imagine an entire classroom of kids with iPads, interacting with videos and 3D models in their textbooks, looking up words they don’t understand instantly, creating notes and flash cards to study at home. These textbooks alongside thousands of other education apps already in the AppStore will transform the classroom.
(Side Note: the same program to build interactive textbooks can be used by teachers to make custom lessons for students with interactive content, quizzes, handouts, etc. all distributed through the new iTunes U app)
Lurking naysayers, I see you and I’m prepared.
iPads are prohibitively expensive for schools
Here are a few little known facts. Apple provides a four-year leasing program for educational institutions that applies to iPads as well as MacBooks and iMacs. They also get a slight discount. All rumors suggest that, with the introduction of the iPad 3 in March, the iPad 2 could be sold to the public for as little as $350 (some rumors even say $299). Provided that standard textbooks are around $100 per book and schools could get iPads for as cheap as $250 a piece, it ends up being a wash financially. Trust me, I ran a completely unscientific numbers crunch on it. But unlike traditional texts, with the iPad you have a device that can hold the attention of students while providing thousands of books, apps, and websites right at a their fingertips.
For many college students, textbooks cost as much as $500 per semester already. The iPad is an amazing device for a student already, but now it could essentially pay for itself in one semester. An initial $500 purchase and then only $15 per textbook for the rest of your four (five? six?) years.
No publishers will go for this
Apple has already signed deals with the three most prominent textbook publishers, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin. There are already 8 digital versions of textbooks in the iBooks Store. The print version of these textbooks are used by a combined 10 million students nationwide.
Apple has also made it insanely easy for ANYONE to create content-rich books with iBooks Author. Publishers with existing texts can drag and drop their entire texts into the authoring app and it will be formatted correctly. They only need to fill it with new interactive media and then publish.
iPads would be more of a distraction in the classroom
Schools are pretty Internet savvy these days. Students with wifi only iPads could only access materials deemed safe by the schools Internet filter. iPads for education and enterprise can be locked down, as well; not allowing students to change settings, etc.
I’m not one to bemoan the plight of America’s teenage students – they have it way easier now in many respects. But standard teaching tools don’t cut it now. Like it or not, kids have changed. The tools and curriculum have not.
That is, until today.