Friday, January 20, 2012

iBooks Author and the $15 Text

So the textbook companies are selling $15 iBooks instead of $75 books.  Is it really cheaper for schools?

Believe it or not, that is probably not the way it will work if you have a true one to one student iPad ratio. That will work out $15 per iPad install.  The books are reused. In our district, that could be reused 6 or 7 times before being replaced. (We hang on to books WAY too long here.)   That re-use may even be 12 to 14 times in shorter term classes that are offered twice a year.  There doesn't appear to be a way to pass the book on to the next user.  So this isn't going to hurt the bottom line of the major publishing houses.

Now before you cheapskates say we must stick with traditional paper books, there are some things in it for schools and kids. (In no particular order.)

Lighter backpacks.
My 90 pound kids regularly schlep 40 pound backpacks.  I know.  I've weighed them both.

Paper isn't as efficient.
There are many reasons that the real world runs on computers.  They lower wait time for correspondence.  They make it easier to find your work.  Accuracy goes up when you use an electronic device.  Revision is easier.  Just think about passing out papers and the amount of time that can take.  There are lots of reasons to use computers in school.  Many of them are the same reasons you use them at work.

Updates will keep texts current.
We really do hang on to outdated texts way too long.  In an age where knowledge is doubling at an unbelievable rate this is going to become a huge problem.  A new book in our building can be in play in our building for the 6 years, more than enough time to go out-of-date.

In the battle of show and tell, the iBook wins.
Animation, video, audio, color everywhere at no additional costs.  Used well, these tools are powerful for teachers and learners.

Students can help themselves learn.
Our kids have varied backgrounds an life experiences.  We have world travels mixed in with kids whose parents are working three jobs.  The vocabulary differences alone make having a few clicks between what you know and what you need to know an important tool.  Discovering what you need to know for yourself will become more important in the future.

No.  I don't think you make a move to the iBook to save money.  Make the move because it is something that will help your students and your schools.

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