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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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  • Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:13AM (#38341810)

    s/iPad/ANY TABLET/g

  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:16AM (#38341826)

    But they're not using ANY TABLET, they're using iPads.

  • by Mastadex (576985) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:16AM (#38341828)

    ..It doesn't matter. When you drop an iPad, it's costly to replace. But I'm just preaching to the choir now...

  • by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:22AM (#38341862) Homepage
    Textbooks yanked from students iPads during a semester because of DRM glitch. Thousands of kids are unable to do their book work as teachers scramble to come up with alternatives while the issue gets resolved between the publisher, Apple, and anyone else.

    *Whump* It may be old, it may be so yesteryear but a book works fine. Not to mention as a learning tool it also makes a great:

    * Blunt object to smack the bully who's harassing you with if he tries to take it from you.

    * Something to stand on to reach that higher shelf

    * Foot rest when doing something other then Calculus or Physics. God those books weighed a ton!

    * Something your kid could poke around in when your older and not have to deal with DRM restrictions that lock the title to you alone. Seriously I found my parents old math books in the attic one day and I was amazed going through them when I was younger.

    * It works great when the batteries are dead and you have a candle to read by.

    Now that I've ranted I'll get off the lawn before the guy with the stone tablets comes out and yells at me. Don't ask him how he parted the waters in his birdbath. You'll get your ear talked off.
  • by kervin (64171) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:23AM (#38341870) Homepage

    ...and they could have just have easily been using Netbooks or Laptops for this. And the advantage of a laptop is that these starving students would save themselves even that $600 the tablet costs as they need a laptop for real work anyway.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:25AM (#38341884) Homepage Journal

    I got internet on a 28.8kbit line in 1996.
    If somebody told me: look, in 15 years they will still study on books I would have ROTFLMAO.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:31AM (#38341924)

    Which is pretty sad. They're presenting text and maybe some images, the "textbooks" should be platform agnostic.

  • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:36AM (#38341958)

    When an e-ink device is a fraction of the cost of an iPad & has the classroom advantage of being better suited for text and poorly suited for games, I come to the conclusion that she is either paid for or stupid.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:41AM (#38341986)

    But then again, speaking of Kindle, it itself became the Apple of eInk devices, where you'd figure the Kindle was the only one available as no other manufacturers ever get mentioned. Even back in the day when it was only Amazon and Sony, and maybe some smaller manufacturers, Sony didn't exist in most article authors' world, even though they had a superior reader.

  • by fafaforza (248976) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:46AM (#38342038)

    * Something that can screw up the kid's back for life.

    Have you seen the size of these kids' backpacks? Not saying that the iPad is the best answer, but at least it would lighten those loads.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:49AM (#38342066)

    ...and they could have just have easily been using Netbooks or Laptops for this.

    Perversely, the walled garden means management cant intentionally add spyware to them as easily as a PC. Laptops take 5+ minutes to boot and load all the inventory monitor, virus scanner and its updates, OS updates, keyloggers both management approved and downloaded accidentally off the internet, and the battery is dead by the end of the first class... then what?

    If you go laptop, you need a AC power outlet at each desk, which is going to be expensive to wire, and the kids are going to stick wires in there to intentionally electrocute each other.

    If you go tablet, the kid needs to carry... the tablet. Charge it at night, it'll run all day. If you forget, the old fashioned dunce chair in the corner becomes "the charger chair" to sit next to the teacher's charger and wall outlet. If you go laptop, the kid needs to carry the laptop, the power adapter which will get lost or forgotten, the power cable from outlet to adapter which will get lost, the inevitable ipod/phone USB charger cable (lets face it, its gonna happen) and probably an old fashioned ethernet cable for locations/times when wifi is not available, and probably a flash drive or two to trade music files with friends, and add a random USB cable or two to hook up to printers/scanners/etc that are not on the LAN (Printer on the lan at work is convenient, on the lan at school means the local 2600 readers are going to anonymously print goatse out on the principals office printer, therefore no printers allowed on the lan at school). The laptop PLUS accessories is going to be bulkier and heavier than all but the stoutest Calc or Physics books, negating most of the purpose.

    Yes, I've read textbooks on a regular old fashioned desktop. I suppose I could on a laptop or netbook. It just makes more sense to use a tablet.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedonger (1317951) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:07AM (#38342194)

    Oh good, Apple took a trick from Microsoft on indoctrinating the next generation.

    I was amazed recently to see my 15 month old niece playing with an iPad. As I watched my first thought was how lucky she is to be creating those connections in her brain at such a young age, but then I realized we are raising a generation of newly-born children who may very well reach a significant age (say, 8, when I started using computers [in 1980]) before they ever need to touch a real keyboard. Their expectations of a user interface will far exceed ours, and at the same time they may be more a prisoner to the technology because - forget about command line - they'll barely know how to use access a file system using a GUI and a mouse.

    At least they will be inside on their computers and not trampling all over my lawn.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:10AM (#38342244)

    I'm willing to bet half of the administrators of these schools have never heard of any alternatives to iPads and so never considered any of the more logical choices (e.g.any e-reader)

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:12AM (#38342260)
    It used to be that noone would get fired for buying IBM. Then it was Microsoft. When it comes to tablets, Apple is still the leader by market share. They are the low-risk option. Sure, you pay more. A lot more. But if it all goes horribly wrong, you can't be accused of causing the problem by buying inferior equipment.
  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:13AM (#38342264)

    Bullshit. When the Kindle had a crap dark gray screen, the 505 was head and shoulders above it in contrast. And it wasn't a placticky toy with a keyboard. Sony also was the first to put touch on their readers, and later improved it with infrared sensors on the side, something that Amazon and B&N are using today. Sony had it probably a year in advance.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:19AM (#38342340) Homepage

    I'm willing to bet half of the administrators of these schools have never heard of any alternatives to iPads and so never considered any of the more logical choices (e.g.any e-reader)

    It's this, combined with some odd effect I'm sure marketing has named, but I remain ignorant of the lingo.

    For example, it's like how if I take my Kindle out in public, someone asks me if "The Barnes and Noble Kindle" is any good, too. "Oh, Sony has a Kindle out, too, did you hear about that?"

    I don't listen to music on an mp3 player, I listen to music on "an iPod."

    To my parents, when I get home, I play "Nintendo." Not the Wii, not the Playstation, not the 360 -- The Nintendo Nintendo, the Sony Nintendo, or the Windows Nintendo.

    And nowadays, you don't buy a tablet PC, you buy "an iPad."

    The most successful member of a product group names the group, permanently.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:22AM (#38342372)
    The production runs on textbooks are not that small. In fact, I'd describe them as large. But what those words mean can vary from person to person. Yeah, a textbook probably doesn't have a print run like a best seller, but few books do. The problem I have with iPads is twofold: one, it is an expensive device, and not all professors will adopt ebooks; and, two, many students will use the device to play Angry Birds or check Facebook instead of paying attention in class. If we are to adopt ebooks, I'd much prefer something that can also work on a laptop or PC, so that students are not forced to purchase two devices. I'm very troubled by what is happening in the textbook market, the increased lock-in. I'm working with some other faculty members at my institution for (English) classes without textbooks, or with reduced textbooks, by using more online or library content. But a major problem is that the salespeople for textbook companies are pretty effective, making promises about saving money and online features. Then a lot of faculty are technophobic or barely tech-competent, so the traditional textbook gets the nod because it's familiar.
  • Open Source books. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:35AM (#38342530)

    Would this not help open the industry to open source book projects?

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:36AM (#38342544) Homepage

    How so? Part of the reason they charge so much for textbooks (not all of the reason by any means, but definitely part of it) is that they know there's a thriving market in used books. Especially for books used in non-core classes, a textbook company can expect that at best one in three students who are taking a class that uses their book will actually buy the book. A textbook is current for usually four to six semesters, but you have to figure that at least some students will buy new on principle, even in non-core classes. It's probably more like one in four, but we'll go with three. Let's also assume that production of the physical book is 15% of the cost of the book (it might be less, but text books are legitimately more expensive to print because of the higher paper quality and often having lots of color pictures).

    So you have an e-book version that (thanks to DRM) you can guarantee will get sold to every single student who takes a class using it, plus you save the 15% on production costs. You can probably sell it for 1/3 of the amount you sell the dead tree version for, undercut used book prices, and still make more than you used to. On top of that, if you can get most students to use the e-book instead of the physical book, you can slow down your release cycle (since you no longer have to worry as much about students cutting into your profits by buying used) and save still more money.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:48AM (#38342676)

    University is for learning. The idea is that you open the textbook on your own to gain a deeper understanding of the topic than you had time to cover in class.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AdamJS (2466928) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:50AM (#38342686)

    That seems like exactly what they've been doing for over 30 years.

    That's kind of why textbooks have more or less been re-using the same core knowledge yet costing more and more each year. They haven't been improving the way they teach the material as much as the "buy a new book every year" mantra would lead most to believe.

  • online textbooks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Insightfill (554828) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:51AM (#38342696) Homepage
    My daughter's 6th grade school got a small number of textbooks early, and they're ramping up supply.

    As a solution, and also a 'value-add', they've got a per-student login system to the book publisher for online versions of the books.

    It's been a disaster.

    Leaving aside that not all kids have unfettered internet access at home - those kids get real books early - it was easily one month into the school year before they got the kids accounts and passwords to read the books. Each kid needs their own login.

    Then: you're relying on each 6th grade kid to write down a case-sensitive login and password in class, then try it at home. Since they might not have homework that day for that class, it may be a week before they get around to checking the login. When it doesn't work, you then need to communicate back to the teacher - through your kid - for a better password. The "lost password" link just says "talk to your teacher."

    We finally were able to successfully log in to two text books mid-November.

    For another class, the teacher provided a 40 character long, case-sensitive URL for the kids to log on and check for homework. WTF?

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ltap (1572175) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:52AM (#38342714) Homepage
    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. Ever Hoover®ed something? Taken Aspirin®? Blown your nose with a Kleenex®? Put a Band-Aid® on a cut? Written a memo on a Post-It® note? In some cases, it's simply unintentional -- the generic name for a product is the brand name of the most popular version (hence the "Crapper" toilet). In other cases it's more sinister, like with Nintendo -- the company is trying to control the market by identifying its brand with the product alone.

    This kind of maneuvring can also be seen a little with Apple and its insistence on using its own terminology. Why? Consider the AirPort and AirPort Base Station. To normal humans, these are known as the wi-fi adapter and wireless access point respectively. But to someone going into a shop, only knowing they "need a new base station", they will (if they are ignorant enough), ignore wireless routers and access points that would obviously be compatible with their Mac system in favour of an Apple product simply because of terminology. It's a way of fostering dependence. The fact that Apple does this all the time should clue you into something.
  • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mithent (2515236) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:00AM (#38342808)
    Exactly. This frustrated me before with the iPod - friends and family wouldn't go out looking for an MP3 player, they'd go out looking for an iPod, because an iPod is what you get to play music on the move. And it's just the same now with the iPad. They didn't look at the available tablets on the market and decide that the iPad was the one that best suited their needs. They wanted a tablet, so they bought the iPad, because the iPad is the tablet.
  • by omnichad (1198475) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:53AM (#38343432) Homepage

    And putting the problem sets into a textbook, instead of a cheap paperback workbook ensures the buying of new textbooks. They don't need to be in the same heavyweight book.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nightfell (2480334) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:43PM (#38344858)

    No, what they need is a system that gets out of their way and lets them focus on the classwork at hand. Apparently the iPad is more suitable for this than the competition.

    If you're focusing on root access, then you are focusing on a secondary aspect that really has very little impact on the primary needs being addressed. I thought geeks were supposed to be against form over function? Isn't this a somewhat fundamentalist version of that?

  • Re:Uh... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nightfell (2480334) on Monday December 12, 2011 @01:52PM (#38345734)

    You're just handwaving here to justify your particular version of form over function.

    "Um, Android is open, so, something, something, better!"

    There are at least three fundamental flaws with this.

    1. "something, something" doesn't exist. It's possible to exist, but it doesn't. When it exists, then let's talk. Until then, it's of absolutely no value.
    2. The false notion that teachers are Matrix Hacker Gurus who want nerdlike power over classroom iPads.
    3. You're still talking about a secondary aspect. Even if "something, something" existed, and teachers were wanting to micromanage classroom tablets in realtime, that doesn't address the fundamental reason for the class in the first place, which is to educate.

    iPads are highly capable quality products that everyone is familiar with, that people want and enjoy using, and that has primary developer focus providing for an abundance of first-class classroom apps. They require very little administration overhead. Ok, so they don't let you customize the shit out of them. That's fine on a personal level, where you might prefer customization over all those other aspects, or even in some specialized organizational uses, where you might want to deploy a fleet of highly tailored tablets. But what value is that in a classroom?

    You're going to have to provide more than "something, something" if you want to overcome some very real benefits, that actually exist right now, which significantly favor the iPad.

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