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Education Apple News

Goodbye Textbooks, Hello iPad 396

Posted by samzenpus
from the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Students and teachers in grade school through higher education are using the iPad to augment their lessons or to replace textbooks. Jennifer Kohn's third grade class at Millstone Elementary School in Millstone, New Jersey, mastered the iPad with minimal training. For the most part, the students didn't need to be taught how to use their apps, Kohn says. College students are also turning to the iPad to do what they do instinctively well: saving themselves money. Marianne Petit, a New York University staff member, recently began taking credits in pursuit of another certification, and uses her iPad in place of textbooks. 'The price of the iPad pays for itself after a single semester,' Petit said. 'iPad books cost so much less it's a legal alternative for students who are using BitTorent [to pirate books].' Like the PC before it, Kohn noted that the iPad isn't a panacea for educators: It has its appropriate time and place. 'I don't use them with every lesson or even day. It's not always appropriate to lesson or objective of what I'm trying to teach,' Kohn noted."
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Goodbye Textbooks, Hello iPad

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  • by gander666 (723553) * on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:27AM (#38341902) Homepage

    The case of textbooks is special for many reasons. First, students (and I am talking University Students here) MUST buy them. No choice in the matter. Second, there has long been a lively secondary market for used books. This infuriated the main line publishers, that they couldn't get fresh money for fresh books every semester/quarter/year. Third, to counter this, they collude with the authors, and have frequent revisions. Never changing much, but enough that lesson plans would be altered with the wrong edition text. Thus, it is rare that a text is god for more than 2 years between revisions.

    Couple that with the fact that there is a limited run on text books (never a large production run), a captive market, and thus really high prices, and you get a very warped market. The publishers are actually happy to sell a reduced price electronic version, DRM'd, to each student, and cut out the secondary resellers.

    That said, when I chased my Physics degree, for my core, I always bought new, marked them up, and keep them. Today, my two volumes of Graduate level Quantum server merely to intimidate coworkers.

  • by Scr4tchFury (1211936) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:27AM (#38341906)
    There are no discounts. The students are downloading illegal copies of books.
  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IANAAC (692242) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:29AM (#38341916)
    That's what it should be, yeah.

    Remember when PCWorld used to be one giant ad for whatever PC program-of-the month was paying them? Now it seems that it panders to Apple too.

    The "article" is just one giant love fest for the iPad, arranged by the founder of "iPhome". Oh well, at least they managed to mention "Kindle" once.

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:47AM (#38342042) Homepage Journal

    Second, there has long been a lively secondary market for used books. This infuriated the main line publishers, that they couldn't get fresh money for fresh books every semester/quarter/year.

    Until you get to college anyway. Then the publishers "lobby" the professors just like big corps lobby the congressmen, and get them to change what textbook they "require" for their class every few years. Books bought in the spring for $250 are bought back by the book stores that fall for $24 because they won't be used there next semester.

    It would be nice if universities required the profs to list the book costs and the average resale value of books bought for their classes in the course list. Then when you had three profs teaching African History and two of them have average end costs of $100 and one has $300 because the prof keeps changing books, enrollment for that one prof plummets and his department head threatens to cut that class off the list. That's the only way to fix that problem.

    Hard to say how effective it would be though - so many college students haven't learned how to manage money and are on a "spend/charge/loan now, worry about pay later when I get a lucrative job" attitude that they really don't pay as much attention to up-front costs as they should.

  • by MisterSquid (231834) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:04AM (#38342176)

    It would be nice if universities required the profs to list the book costs and the average resale value of books bought for their classes in the course list. Then when you had three profs teaching African History and two of them have average end costs of $100 and one has $300 because the prof keeps changing books, enrollment for that one prof plummets and his department head threatens to cut that class off the list. That's the only way to fix that problem.

    You act as if professors work in the bookstore with a database of book prices open on their computers. Having been university faculty, I know professors are "shielded" frrom the price of the books they select for pedagogical (as opposed to financial) reasons. Usually, faculty submit a list with titles and authors to administrative staff who then notify ordering faculty of new editions and other changes to the book order. Faculty get desk copies that have no price; faculty do not know how much the books they choose to best teach the subject cost.

    In your scenario, it's quite likely that the faculty requiring more expensive texts will have better, more authoritative, more current texts than the faculty with less-expensive texts. Price is not a guarantee of quality, but it sometimes provides a quick index to value.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:14AM (#38342286)

    The cost difference between my wife's Math textbooks and their equivalent e-book version was $400 for us last semester. In other words, an iPad pays for itself in one semester of school.

  • by microcars (708223) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:16AM (#38342302) Homepage
    The kids are using APPS, not eBooks.
    The quote is from someone going to college that says the iPad eBooks are cheaper.
    Being an iPad-using college student myself, I can tell you that when there is an actual eBook available (ePub or PDF), it is about 1/2 the list price of the hardcover "textbook".
    However, the secondary market is eliminated as it is not easy to sell a DRM'ed eBook, so the cost savings are upfront only.
    You end up paying the same price over the life of the course compared to students who buy the books at list price and then sell them later for 1/2 price.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:18AM (#38342326)

    This is absolutely wrong. My wife's Math books last semester were $400 more for the text book over the e-book version. That paid for our new iPad.

  • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:20AM (#38342352)

    Many professors hardly ever use their textbooks, making having the things a waste. Not only do they not know the cost (which they could easily look up if they ever cared to), but they listed as required a book that was never opened. It's one thing if you require and use a textbook; it's an entirely different story if you never even use it.

    For example, when I took Calculus III, we never even opened the textbook once. All lessons were done old school with a chalkboard and overhead projector. We didn't even use the book for assignments; we were given homemade worksheets and electronically posted problems. It was the same for the previous two courses: We never cracked the book open except for a single instance in Calc I.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:27AM (#38342430)

    The term you're looking for is genericized trademark, I believe.

  • by tastiles (466054) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:29AM (#38342450)

    But there are requirements to list books and prices! The federal Higher Education Opportunity Act requires colleges and universities to make public lists of books and other materials that will be required for each course by the time of students are expected to enroll in those courses. This was supposed to drive down the cost of textbooks because it will give students more time to find online prices. As a professor, I haven't noticed much of a change since this law took effect in July 2010, the prices in the bookstore are still outrageous.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:31AM (#38342476) Homepage

    No, as a AV engineer and consultant I have observed the following. Teachers are incredibly dumb compared to the kids in regards to technology. Almost to the point that they are "special needs".

    I have several educators that complain that when they press a button on a touchscreen that if something did not happen, they don't press it again, they crawl under the desk and start crying and proclaiming that the system is completely broken and needs to be replaced. These people may understand education, but they are incompetent when it comes to using any form of technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:54AM (#38342732)

    I used the APP CourseSmart for my books this semester...

    Pro's: I never carry around weight.. Just an ipad.. Books were similarly priced as used books.. Can take notes slowly, read textbook, and use google/wiki/wolfram alpha all in one light form.

    Con's: DRM, if you are flipping thru an index, say 30 pages in a row, the APP locks you out with a message about copying the textbook. Easily fixable but highly frustrating.. Also, For say my Calculus II class, when you have to refer to the beginning of the chapter for an example, then back to the problem set. Its slow to flip pages back and forth and cumbersome... DRM for caching the entire book to the ipad is glitchy and you get locket out.. If you don't cache, page flipping is dependent on your connection. High latency.. And in the case of CourseSmart, you can only see the text book for 180 days or so...

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:03AM (#38342842)

    Your experience is not typical..

    Says you? I doubt that the University of Texas, with 60,000 students, is atypical of anything. It's probably the most typical model out there, as far as tech-savvy undergrad programs go.

    My wife's Math books were going to be about $600 for the semester (four books). The same four books were less than $200 as ebooks. That paid for an iPad. Multiply that by two semesters a year and 60,000 students and that's a lot of savings. Of course not all students will have the same price disparity as my wife's books, but pretty much all e-book versions are at least half the price of the print version ($150 versus $30 in one case)...at least on large US campuses.

    Outside of Academia I don't see a lot of cost savings. Game of Thrones on iTunes is $8.99. I think the paperback version is $5.99.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by multisync (218450) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:38AM (#38343236) Journal

    This isn't new and isn't exclusive to technology. It started in earnest, it seems, in the 1950s (the great age of commercialization) when certain companies wanted their trademark to be the name for a generic product.

    You've actually got that completely backwards. Companies go to great pains to prevent their trademarked names from being diluted to the point that they become generic terms for a product category. In fact, companies like Xerox have taken out ads in publications like Writers Digest imploring authors to not abuse their trademark by using their trademarked name as a verb, as in "I xeroxed a copy" (note the lower case).

    The reason is that trademarks, unlike copyrights and patents, must be actively defended to be maintained. That's one of the big differences between trademark and copyright. If you don't actively defend your trademark, it can ruled to have been abandoned and you will lose your exclusive right to use it in the marketplace. On the other hand, by rigorously defending your trademark, it can effectively last forever, unlike copyrights which (theoretically) expire.

    Companies definately want you to think of their products first, but you will find them very hostile if you use their trademarked name generically, especially if it's to describe a similar product offered by a competitor.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dog-Cow (21281) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:02PM (#38343534)

    The iPad does not retail for (much) more than tablets of similar spec, and Apple has always offered educational discounts.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:13PM (#38343634)

    Apple has always offered educational discounts.

    Not on the iPad

  • Worked for Apple (Score:4, Informative)

    by koan (80826) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:19PM (#38343720)

    Apple has an entire team dedicated to education, they have the entire Maine school district, Los Angeles, Texas, Hawaii and several other states using their hardware so it is only natural that these same customers will move to iPads.
    The issue here is textbooks on the iPad are cheap now because of marketing and getting people on the platform, once there the prices rise, one other thing would be 3rd graders using iPads, guess how many are going to get broken and need replacement, plus only a smattering of schools purchased accidental damage coverage from Apple, the rest just got "Apple Care" which only covers manufacturing defects not accidental.
    Apple is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the education market, they've been farming it for quite some time and they do it well.

    Get over root access, the majority of users shouldn't have anything greater than limited application access to computers much less root access.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by NameIsDavid (945872) on Monday December 12, 2011 @01:09PM (#38344378)
    How you do pay "a lot more" for an iPad? A 10.1" Galaxy Tab is the same price as the iPad as of this moment on a reasonable site such as Amazon.com. And that's without Apple's excellent customer support (phone and retail store), without the ability to extend the warranty an extra year and without the high resale value which reduces total cost of ownership considerably.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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