Don’t expect to see the all-iPad classroom any time soon — at least not in cash-strapped California, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Apple has partnered with three big K-12 textbook publishers to provide digital textbooks that require the iPad.
What puts educators off is not just the $499 sticker price — $475 if purchased in batches of 10 — for the basic iPad (add $35 for a case) It’s also the requirement that schools buy the textbook software as vouchers for individual students, who will download the electronic textbooks onto their own iTunes accounts.
Every year, the school district will have to buy more $14.99 textbooks that it will never own.
“Everybody’s going to go to open-source textbooks” — which are free predicts Ann Dunkin, technology director for the Palo Alto Unified School District. “We’ve already bought textbooks. We’ll use them until they fall apart.”
Of course, the iBook can do things a standard textbook can’t do, such as show things in three dimensions and link to videos — or to social media sites. Most teachers at Palo Alto’s Gunn High don’t let students use their iPads, issued as a pilot project, reports the Mercury News. Too many students were checking out their Facebook page in class.
Despite the cachet of Apple, “districts shouldn’t get crazed by technology. They should figure out what they want, then work backward,” said Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute, a Mountain View think tank promoting “disruptive innovation” in education. “The iPad is getting a huge amount of attention, a lot of districts are spending money on it, but they haven’t thought out why.”
Archbishop Mitty High School, a Catholic school in San Jose, is renting iPads for all students and teachers next year after a two-year experiment.
Tim Wesmiller created an online textbook “as a dynamic mashup of content from the Library of Commerce, YouTube and Google maps” for his religious studies class.
Valerie Wuerz, 17, peers into her iPad, where an app called 7 Billion breaks down the global impact of overpopulation in text, slides, video and forums where students can share ideas and develop projects. She calls the iPad “a great resource, because textbooks are expensive and heavy to lug around.”
Down the hall, science teacher Kate Slevin’s class focuses on the subject of momentum.
“OK, guys,” she says. “Open your iPads.” They use a note-taking, audio-recording app called Notability that lets users write notes with their fingers over text on the screen. They can import a syllabus or a book chapter, create bullet outlines, and record the lecture in case they miss something.
Mitty is adding the cost of iPad rental to tuition bills, figuring that parents will save money in the long run by having to buy fewer expensive textbooks.