Can Apple's iPad replace static textbooks?

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Remember those old tattered textbooks your teacher used to loan you at the beginning of the school year? Well, the heavy as rocks books may soon be replaced with a lighter, more new-age device: Apple's iPad.

Yes, the state of Georgia is considering getting rid of traditional textbooks - trading them in for wireless iPads at a cost of $500 per student.

"Last week we met with Apple Computers," Republican Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams told the Atlantic Journal-Constitution.

"They have a really promising program where they come in and their [sic] recommending to middle schools - for $500 per child per year, they will furnish every child with an iPad, wi-fi the system, provide all the books on the system, all the upgrades, all the teacher training - and the results they’re getting from these kids is phenomenal."

The senator also emphasized the benefit of the fast flow of information that the iPad offers.

"We’re currently spending about $40 million a year on books. And they last about seven years. We have books that don’t even have 9/11. This is the way kids are learning, and we need to be willing to move in that direction."

Other schools have implemented similar pilot programs with great success.

In a report published out by the New York Times, a high school teacher from Long Island testing a similar iPad pilot program said, "[It] allowed students to correspond with teachers and turn in papers and homework assignments, and preserve a record of student work in digital portfolios. It allows us to extend the classroom beyond these four walls."

Although the price of $500-$750 dollars per student (depending on storage size within the iPad) may seem steep, the technology offers schools a way to cut costs on multiple text books and paper. iPads offer students games, interactive demos, and even ways to simulate things like a piano or other musical instrument.

"I think this could very well be the biggest thing to hit school technology since the overhead projector," added school principal Scott Wolfe of the Long Island high school that previously experimented with the iPad.

Like Georgia, the Virginia Department of Education is managing a $150,000 iPad initiative to replace history and advanced placement biology textbooks at 11 of its school. Meanwhile, 6 middle schools in California are teaching the first ever iPad only algebra course.

Clealry, both textbook publishers and educators are eyeing the iPad as a the medium of the future.

Although the iPad is an amazing tablet, analysts argue that there may be future tablets released with much lower pricetags in the $150 range rather than the current $500 range. Still, the iPad does have a massive and undeniable leg-up with the sheer amount of apps available in the App Store.

(Via Apple Insider)