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School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads 439

MexiCali59 writes "Four of California's largest school districts will be trying something new on eighth-grade algebra students this year: giving them iPads instead of textbooks. The devices come pre-loaded with a digital version of the text, allowing students to view teaching videos, receive homework assistance and input assignment all without picking up a pen or paper. If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."
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School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads

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  • Khan Academy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:05PM (#33513594) [] really does kick ass. I'm using some of his 5-10 minute videos to supplement my graduate level Linear Algebra stuff. Most of it's straight to the point and if I need clarification on a subject I don't have to turn to the book.

    Now how this saves money. I won't know. Then again text books aren't cheap. What ever happened to the OpenSource textbook that I thought CA was assembling to be 'free'?

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:07PM (#33513624)

    California is in the middle of a hiring freeze for the State, and a huge deficit. Where exactly are they getting the money for these iPad projects for these districts, let alone for the rest of the State if they decide to advance it?

    This is a pilot program, Houghton Mifflin and/or Apple are probably subsidizing it.

    A pilot program is designed to measure the effectiveness of the device and the costs. It is plausible that a reusable digital device loaded with numerous textbooks could be less expensive than the corresponding set of paper textbooks. Also keep in mind that today's $500 iPad will probably be around $250 in a couple of years. and those are retail prices not educational institution prices.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Informative)

    by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:15PM (#33513762)

    Between the cost of a textbook and the rate at which they become 'obsolete' for the state testing...

    Are you asserting that books last less than three years? Because I'm relatively certain that there will be nearly no usable iPads in that same amount of time. They're simply not designed to outlive their replacement models.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Compholio ( 770966 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:25PM (#33513902)

    Same as here in NY. School districts are bitching about the state withholding funds. In reality, they waste money on unnecessary crap like in TFA.

    For a lot of places the "tech" funds are independent of their general budget. As you are likely aware you generally do not replace computers every year; however, if on the years you don't replace equipment you don't spend your tech money then you lose it for when you do need to buy new equipment.

    To make the bitching even more egregious, most districts have plenty of money saved in "rainy day" type funds to cover budgets shortfalls.

    Those funds are reserved for temporary budget shortfalls (such as an unexpected drop in enrollment for a year), they cannot handle a sustained loss of funding. Also, many places will ratchet your funding to your worst year - so even if budgetary conditions improve for the next year you won't get your budget back.

  • Re:First Line (Score:3, Informative)

    by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:26PM (#33513920)
  • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Informative)

    by natespizer ( 1362373 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:34PM (#33514008)
    One important fact is that if a parent is paying for the education there is a good chance they will be more invested in making sure their student does a good job rather than just blaming everything on the teacher or school. You will get much more parent participation in event and activities and in most cases it is mandatory.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:50PM (#33514208) Journal

    quickly flip between half a dozen pages to get to the right charts, reference sheets, and examples

    eBooks are searchable.

    being able to scribble my illegible notes in the margins.

    Good god no! Writing in books is evil.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:00PM (#33515012) Homepage

    "Why is it that almost every single privately educated student is better educated than a public school educated student despite massive redistribution of wealth? With a private school, they have to make every dollar count."

    That's, like, one of the dumbest and most disingenuous arguments I've ever seen. The actual answer is simply: Because private schools are rich and spend about twice as much money on average.

    The secular private schools analyzed in the study spent $20,100 on each student in the 2007-08 school year vs. $10,100 in public schools. [Washington Post, "Per-Student Spending Gaps Wider Than Known", Aug-31, 2009] []

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .99wodahseht.> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:36PM (#33515644)

    I worked as the Director of Technology for a charter school for 3 years and I looked at pretty good reporting on how one-laptop-per-child programs saw a 15% gain in performance on standardized testing. So I'd lay pretty good odds they will see some sort of increase from this, but probably not as great as they expect since they are doing a weird one-subject parallel.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

    by dunng808 ( 448849 ) <garydunnhi@gmail . c om> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:09PM (#33516700) Journal

    Without copyright, old son, you'd likely not have a textbook. People still generally have this whole "pay me for my knowledge" defect, you see. I know you think information "wants to be free", but it's actually "freeloaders want information to be free", and the producers of information have a lot more value to society than the freeloaders do.

    The Internet, by which we participate in this conversation, was created by people willing to think and plan and code not for personal monetary gain but for the betterment of society. Fame and glory. There is no reason this will not work for textbooks. The Open Slate Project [] advocates fully integrating tablet computers into secondary education, and open source content ranging from Ebooks to apps. The content piece is called Chalk Dust. []

    If this sort of thing appeals to you, consider joining our SourceForge mailing list. []

    MIT has been doing great work with Open Courseware [].

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"