Textbooks on iPads

Textbooks or new technology?

Elleni Oberle, Talon staff writer

Upper school principal Nancy Johnson talked about the advancement of ipad textbooks. “I think it’s a great idea and we’re really keeping a close eye on that; there are a lot of reasons why. The development in that area is pretty new and not really predictable enough now for us to know how exactly it’s going to look, but in another few months or a year, we might know more.”

All students deal with it, the difficulty of lugging multiple 400-page textbooks around every day. But is breaking a sweat and having a sore back worth it? Minnehaha may be making a transition to using iPads in class and around school. Apple recently came out with iBook’s textbooks on iPads. With this new idea students will be able to purchase textbooks with many advantages on iPads. Not only can students read the textbooks, but also make use of 3D diagrams.

An obvious problem with textbooks is heavy weight. Students at Minnehaha have seven classes and along with most of the classes come textbooks.

Some classes require you to bring the book every day to class and home some for studying. This can cause chronic shoulder, neck and back pain in students.

Textbooks also become outdated very soon after they are published. Some become outdated even before they are even printed. Since textbooks are expensive schools cannot afford to purchase new ones every year, causing students to learn information that is not current.

Apple has come up with a solution for this, textbooks on iPads. With electronic textbooks you would have one device, your iPad, to hold all of your textbooks. Students could buy the textbook through iTunes for a lower price than hard cover textbooks. Another benefit is that textbooks could be updated, so that you can learn current information.  While reading textbooks on iPads it is possible to access 3D diagrams and interactive pictures that benefit a students learning.

Minnehaha educational technology manager Keith Kostman thinks that electronic textbooks would benefit a student more than hardcover books.

“Electronic all the way,” said Kostman. “Hard cover textbooks are going to disappear. Electronic will have much more information, be able to be constantly updated, be interactive and more.”

But are electronic textbooks all they are worked up to be? There seems to be a few bumps in the road ahead.

Although Apple claims that note taking on iPads is simple, some people disagree. According to a recent study at Notre Dame, some students found note taking and highlighting text to be difficult.

Right now there isn’t a very wide selection of textbooks available on the iPad. A few of the popular publication companies like McGraw Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have textbooks out, but it may not be enough for a school to rely solely on them.

Because there are other companies that have textbook compatible devices like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook, there are a few problems with publishing rights as well as licensing and distribution issues. There isn’t one standardized organization yet, but hopefully has yet to come.

All Minnehaha lower school teachers and about half of the upper school teachers have been given iPads from the school. They have been asked to research educational apps that they can use in the classroom starting next year.

One question that has come up in the process of Minnehaha getting iPads for students is how to get the iPads to the students. Will Minnehaha buy iPads for all students and have the students buy the textbooks or will students be asked to have iPads when they enroll?

Another issue is that once you buy a textbook you don’t have it forever.

“The textbooks are going to come through personal subscriptions,” said Johnson. “[Students] or the school would have to purchase a one year subscription to a textbook. The textbook doesn’t follow the iPad around, once you get it on an iPad it’s not just there forever.”

Upper school science and math teacher Sam Meyers purchased his iPad last spring and has been using it once in a while in his freshman foundations of chemistry and physics class.

Freshman Griffin Snow is in Meyers’ class and said, “We’ve used it in class for some diagram stuff from the iPad to the Promethean board.”

“If we could get affordable textbooks on the iPads, definitely that’s the way to go,” Meyers said.

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About Elleni Oberle

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