Recently, Apple announced iBooks 2 with highly interactive textbooks for the iPad. No longer will textbooks only be text and picture-based, textbooks can now feature audio, video, and interactive widgets, like models and quizzes. The best part of all is Apple made these digital textbooks available for download on its iBookstore for $14.99 or less.
When the average textbook costs over $100 new, even the most expensive textbook from the iBookstore seems like a steal. In fact, $14.99 is so cheap for a textbook, even a college student could afford it. This thought got me thinking.
Despite Apple’s established relationship with the US public school system (what high school computer lab isn’t packed with iMac computers these days?), it’s still surprising to me that Apple targeted its textbooks at high school students and not college students. Without a doubt, both groups of students can greatly benefit from the more fun, interactive learning, but the iPad format and actual purchasing aspect seems much more suited for education at the collegiate level. Here’s why.
High Schools Buy Textbooks, Not Students
First of all, in high school the textbooks are provided to the students. The way it has always worked for me, and the way I assume it works for most every student, is that a textbook has been lent to the student for the semester for each class. In college on the other hand, students are responsible for buying their own textbooks. For high school, it would be a little unreasonable to expect each student to buy their textbooks. But, another purchase else would be even more unreasonable.
iPads Aren’t Cheap
Before high school students would even consider purchasing a textbook for an iPad, they would first need an iPad. For one thing, as just discussed, high school students don’t have to buy their textbooks, so there’s no need for them to buy an iPad. On another note, the cheapest iPad is $500, and expecting each student to purchase one is extremely farfetched.
While schools across the country are using iPads, I can’t foresee many at all supplying each student with such an expensive device on loan to read their textbooks. Their would be too much of a risk for loss, theft, and damage for both the student and the school, not to mention that most schools don’t have enough funding as it is.
In contrast, for college students who often spend $500 each semester on textbooks, substituting an iPad one semester and the cheaper textbooks each subsequent semester seems much more realistic.
Apple Wants Students To Keep Textbooks Forever
Because students can take notes and highlight within the digital textbooks to help personalize their learning, Apple wants the students to keep the textbooks forever. This way, they can always have their notes for every class they ever took on their iPad with them wherever they are.
If high schools were to lend out iPads (highly unlikely) for students to read textbooks, this would work against what Apple is trying to do. Again, because college students purchase their textbooks, an iPad and digital textbooks would make a great substitute purchase that would be a useful tool for other classes.
In conclusion, Apple has their heart in the right place with their textbook ideas, but the iPad’s price and the business model seems to be better suited for college students. Because it’ll be hard to such an expensive device in high school students‘ hands, Apple should reposition iBooks 2 and the digital textbooks for college students. If iBooks 2 works anywhere, it’ll be with colleges first, and then trickle down to high schools.
About the author: August Drilling works on behalf of FortePromo, which sells promotional items, and loves blogging, design, and Apple.
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