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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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  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:14AM (#38341816) Homepage

    I thought the standard book industry line was that the cost of printing is only a few dollars, most of the cost is for authors, editors, copywriters, etc., and that's why e-books are priced very near print books.

    That should be doubly so for textbooks because you're not just making up stories and writing them down plus you have to have special content like illustrations, photographs, and quizzes.

    There aren't special discounts because the e-book is being sold for the iPad, are there?

    "iPad books cost so much less...It's a legal alternative for students who are using BitTorent [to pirate books]."

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:31AM (#38341930)

    ...how this lady chirps for one particular piece of equipment. Who paid her ?

    I'm not suspicious at all. Occam's razor leads me to believe that she just likes it more than lugging around expensive single subject text books. Most of the time, things are really just that simple.

  • by UncleRage (515550) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:34AM (#38341952)

    Funny thing...

    I've deployed around two thousand iPads in our district (and another 500 or so iPod Touches). 1700 (iPads and iTouches) or so to students, another 800 or so to admin/faculty.

    Theft of device:
    Students: 2.
    Faculty/Staff: > 15.

    Physical breakage (screen, headphone jack, etc...).
    Students: 3.
    Faculty Staff: > 20

    Students have had devices for nearly three years. Adults, for about eighteen months.

    Kids take care of the devices better than the adults (at least in our environment); weird, but there you go...

  • by fafaforza (248976) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:44AM (#38342012)

    The electronic version might be cheaper, but it will be cheaper by 5%, or some trivial amount like that, just like eBooks. iPad versions of text books won't "cost so much less."

  • Seriously? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:48AM (#38342046)

    During my day job, I use a computer for about 8 hours. I then use a computer for my classes for approximately 2 or 3 more hours--and that's on a good day. If I have time before bed, I then use a computer to watch something online as I avoid overpriced cable or satellite charges this way. After all this effort in using a computer, I still have yet to feel like my computer is helping my life out in any way.

    Instead?

    I'm charged with a pupil's responsibility of sorting through the bullshit "companion documentation" some disillusioned instructor uploaded to his or her Blackboard class just to find something as trivial as a due date, and we all know how easy it can be to siphon through large PDFs, like a 3 MB syllabus. I'm then expected to sort through more damn PDFs just for shit that said instructor thinks is important to circle-jerk to during "blog discussions" or "online reflections." I'm then expected to download yet another PDF to read before some joke class meeting where we pretend to be learning all of this supposed knowledge that's supposedly meant to help us better our lives which we all know won't happen unless we find that supposed magical fairytale job that exists out there in our supposed dream life we're all waiting for. Supposedly...

    Thank the lord for unorganized distance education, inaccessible websites that have no semantic structure whatsoever, overpaid professionals who do nothing useful in higher education, unrealistic instruction by nimrod professors who've lost their grip to reality due to everything ranging from red tape to tenure, annoyingly long PDFs covering research statistics and data nobody really gives a rat's ass about... ...and our wonderful hand-held units that we now get to experience this all through.

  • by robthebloke (1308483) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:50AM (#38342072)
    Not when you figure in the cost of the iPad, and the inevitable cost of replacing them at least 5 times owing to smashed screens after various playground antics.
  • by hitmark (640295) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:51AM (#38342076) Journal

    I wonder if the kids had more of their "life" on the pad then the adults.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:55AM (#38342112)

    I have a son with severe autism, who uses an ipad to communicate. He's non verbal, and has a low IQ. Not only has he instinctively figured the iPad out, and used it in ways we never dreamed possible, but he's pretty rough on the thing. He's tried to eat it, he's dropped it, slept on it (he is 9, so not a tiny tot), sat on it, gotten it wet many times, (Both from the above mentioned trying to eat it, and from having it near liquids) and it is still fine. We got a great case (gumdrop) and although I don't recommend doing what he does, it's still fine once you take the beat up case off. We also paid for one of those "if you smash it under your car we'll replace it" plans, which I normally avoid. If I knew the case was going to be this good...

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:10AM (#38342240)

    I have multiple teachers in my family and I watch the news. The background is little johnny comes to school with a black eye on occasion and no one cares when you report it, doesn't really matter why. Little johnny breaks the $100 whatever (window, computer keyboard, mouse, textbook, lab equipment, whatever). Well its gonna be hard to look him in his black eye tomorrow, so the written report will be the teacher somehow broke it, even if she tells the kid its going on his permanent record, the actual written report which the kid never sees is going to be a bit different. This lead to comical written reports, "explain why did you put elmers glue in the keyboard again, ms art teacher?". Theres a lot of cover up going on. Then too there's a bit of fairness. Little johnny who you know gets beaten at home gets a cover up... why punish little sally for dropping the ipad just because you think she isn't being beaten? Are you sure? If she shows up dead tomorrow how will you live with yourself? Should "good" parents have to pay replacement money as a punishment for being "good"? If you determine it was an honest accident and "teachable moment" or whatever about responsibility, you just put it on your account instead of the kids account and move on.

    All you're really proven is that about 90% of the time, damage is just an honest mistake / accident. Teachers can and do nail the kid to the wall if its blatant like smashing the device over another kids head, or intentional destruction, or hitting the teacher with it, or some kind of 3-strikes and you're out personal policy, but that kind of stuff is kinda rare.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:20AM (#38342344) Homepage

    But they are not. My wife has available most of her college textbooks on kindle or ipad. They cost the SAME as the paper book. but you can "rent" them for 3 months instead.

    Fun part is it's easy to crack the "rent" feature and strip the DRM so you can keep the book.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:22AM (#38342368) Homepage

    You haven't seen grade school ipad cases. you can beat someone to death with the screen side and cause no damage to the screen. I watched a kindergarten psychopath kid go insane on one and jump up and down on it.

    I am trying to track down what the case is and if it's available in black instead of bright purple.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:35AM (#38342532)
    Many institutions now require faculty to put the cost of textbooks on the order sheets. Why? Well, believe it or not, the book reps and publishers take some pains to obscure, obfuscate, mislead, lie, etc about the cost of texts. I teach English, but I can readily understand why some faculty in math and the sciences would welcome the "churn" of frequent new editions. Changed problem sets really help cut down on cheating, which is rampant at universities these days. Online tools have made it very easy. It is time consuming to generate problem sets, and it's more time consuming to track down and "prosecute" cheaters. Note: I'm not saying anything about what's right or fair. But, given the fact that faculty are made responsible for more and more work, we tend to do what we can to keep our work load reasonable. That means that cost/effort will be pushed on to students. And since it's very difficult to get more effort, it tends to shift toward cost. It's one of those situations in which "externalities" impact the bottom end and in which the bad actors/game defectors force costs onto the community. As for the idea that delisting a professor's courses will encourage better behavior.... Oh boy, that's so wrong. Do you really think that letting a slacker slack will motivate better behavior? Any prof who gives a damn is already trying to figure out what to do about the situation. And those who don't give a damn will welcome low enrollments or delisting of courses. If anything, the convention is to threaten poor performers with more teaching. Instead, we should offer incentives for doing the right thing, like granting publication credit for stuff like generating open course texts or teaching packets. And to do that, schools would have to pay for an editorial board (with course releases) that gives the process oversight and credibility. I dunno. This whole discussion generally lacks on key idea: the professors are consumers as much as the students. But they are subsidized consumers......
  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:55AM (#38342752)
    The most logical thing to do would be for the US government to commission the creation of free textbooks. Since they buy the books for poor students, they would recover their costs very quickly.

    The fact that you have to pay much for any grade school or high school book is silly. A fourth grade math textbook can be written once and once then it just needs to have a few cultural references updated every twenty years. A history or science book will need more updates. But those could mostly be produced for free for students working on their Education doctorates, teachers earning continuing education credits, or other volunteers submitting small changes wiki style.
  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by catmistake (814204) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:50AM (#38343388) Journal

    This kind of maneuvring can also be seen a little with Apple and its insistence on using its own terminology.

    Like AppStore. They could have avoided all kinds of trouble if they just would have said it is the iOS package manager, and its called "AppStore," rather than entirely glossing over the generic form of what it actually is. Had they done this, there would have been no hubbub about every mobile competitor all calling their package managers "appstores." Then again, its just as likely it was incompetant tech journalists that caused that.

  • by sorak (246725) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:52PM (#38344156)

    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.

    I see where we differ, I was thinking no better for students. Yes, the publishers will make a killing and on top of that students will need to cash out for an iPad with no option of doing it on the cheap. If three people can use a $50 book through used sales it's not better for them than each paying $20 for a DRM'd version.

    Interesting, but there are some differences:

    A. The first customer will probably pay $50 for a new book (or $150 in my wife's case), and then have the option to sell back for $15.
    B. The bookstore will mark the book up to $35, keep $20 in profit, and sell it to customer #2.
    C. Customer #2 will sell the book back to the bookstore for $10 or $15. The bookstore will make their profit, and a third customer will come along.
    D. Either the third customer will sell the book back and the bookstore will end up throwing it in the clearance bin, losing money on the book, or the third customer will not have the option to sell back. (assuming that the book is used only 3 times).

    In this scenario, the local bookstore makes money*, and the customer randomly gets screwed with an occasional requirement to buy a new copy of a book at a heavily inflated price. In the DRM model, everybody pays the same price, Apple gets $6 of your $20 textbook purchase, the publisher gets the remaining $14, and the local college bookstore goes out of business because everybody gets their textbooks from iTunes or The Pirate Bay**.

    * I don't know how much profit total, since you have to factor in overhead
    ** Encouraging book manufacturers to provide automated online extras, like test software, that are conveniently located "in the cloud", and require each student to have a serial number to access.

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