Last year, an ailing Steve Jobs met with CEO of McGraw-Hill, Terry McGraw. During that meeting, Jobs made a partnership deal with the massive schoolbook publisher. This week, Jobs’ deal has finally come to fruition. Apple has announced that iBooks 2 is ready to roll. Essentially, iBooks 2 is a way for students to download digital textbooks, create flashcards, highlight portions of those textbooks, and perform various other functions using an iPad 2.
The unveiling iBooks 2 news has gone viral, and schools throughout the United States are seriously considering making room in budgets for iPads. Further, schools that once deemed the popular Apple tablet useless inside of the classroom are rethinking this earlier verdict. As it turns out, the iPad does have a place in the classroom after all.
The Monetary Side of Things
Thanks to strong partnerships with publishing companies like McGraw-Hill, Apple will be providing Kindergarten through 12th Grade students with inexpensive (around $14) versions of digital textbooks. Considering the fact that the average print textbook costs around $65, this is a big monetary difference for students, teachers, and school districts alike. Already, schools throughout New York, New Jersey, and other states have begun the process to include iBooks 2 and iPads in curriculum plans.
While it’s true that the initial cost of an iPad 2 is on the high side (around $500), this price may not be such a burden once the cost of purchase textbooks each year has been considered. For example, if the average textbook costs $65 (and students usually have to have 3-5 books), some school districts could be spending around $325 per student on textbooks per year. Suddenly that $500 price tag doesn’t look so big. Sure, each digital book costs around $14, but that price pales in comparison to print prices, and schools can still come out on top. Add to these figures the possibility that Apple may reduce prices for some schools, and the iPad begins to make a lot of educational sense.
A Greater Freedom
Not only is the iPad 2 cost-effective in the long run, iBooks 2 will provide students with greater academic freedom. Children today (and adults too) have shorter attention spans. Blame it on cartoons, video games, mobile device, tablets, or whatever else, the fact remains that today’s child needs constant movement and entertainment. This is precisely why iBooks 2 is a logical teaching tool. With iBooks 2, children are presented with text, animations, games, the ability to create flashcards, note-taking options, and many other great learning tools.
Teachers who have already tested iBooks 2 have found that children of all ages respond well to this Apple option.
Incidentally, Apple has also created iTunes U, which allows anyone to pull material from various sources and compile that material into a book -- a great teaching tool. There are some downfalls to using the iPad in the classroom (tuning kids into digital tablets, a form of young advertising, and other elements), but the drawbacks should be carefully weighed against the benefits.