The iPad is not just a toy that kids can use to play Angry Birds. The iPad can help students in the classroom as well. Increasingly we’re seeing iPads being integrated into the classroom environment. News stories have shown iPads in elementary schools in helping kids learn math as they play some educational games.
But the iPad can be useful to high school students as well. One way in which the iPad can help students is by replacing their physical text books with interactive iPad textbooks. When you have textbooks on the iPad instead of in print there are countless advantages. Let me go through a few of the problems physical textbooks cause and the ways iPad textbooks can solve those problems.
Textbooks are often times heavy. High school students don’t just have one class, they have several. Each class can assign a heavy textbook. Carrying these books around can strain the backs of students. But on the iPad you can pack as many textbooks as you want and it won’t increase the weight of your iPad. Students can say goodbye to backpacks full of books and back problems forever.
Textbook companies are after one thing: profit. To them, it doesn’t really matter how students get their books as long as they make money in the process. If they can make a profit then this concept will take off. One key concern for schools is of course the cost. Schools will be interested in the idea if it’s cost effective. Therein lies the problem. At the moment, there is not a big difference in price between print and digital versions of textbooks. Most of the cost of the textbook is due to the time and research it takes to create it, not necessarily the cost of printing them. However schools have to replace text books when they are lost or damaged, this won’t be the case if they’re on the iPad. That might be enough savings for schools to consider digital textbooks instead.
When you buy an app on your iPad you will almost always get free updates for life. It would be great if a school could buy a textbook on the iPad and get updated versions to use for next years’ crop of students. But the textbook companies aren’t going to go for the idea of free lifetime updates. Right now they make money by selling future editions of the textbook at full price and they don’t want that to change. It is exciting to think though about the possibility of having recent information being updated in a history book for example.
Physical text books are simple. They are full of text and sometimes pictures with captions. But the iPad is an interactive device. Textbooks can and should incorporate videos in addition to text and pictures. An interactive textbook can also have links to reference other parts of the book. You should be able to click on the references in a text book and the table of contents should take you directly to the section you want. An interactive iPad textbook can also let students jot down notes on pages and bookmark other sections of interest.