Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I didn't Understand Apple's Textbook Program
- It Doesn't Make Sense

I wrote yesterday that I was disappointed that Apple's new iPad textbook program didn't target college student, and I couldn't see it adopted in K-12. Laptop magazine's Avram Pittch explains the flaws in Apple's program very cogently here. The economics of using Apple's proprietary system in the K-12 level just don't work out. Eventually digital textbooks may migrate to K-12, but in my opinion, they will likely be open-sourced "wikibooks" and they will be distributed in an opensource format that is hardware-agnostic. Most likely they would be played on a very inexpensive tablet of a type that does not currently exist. The iPad is too proprietary and too expensive. The new XO3 OLPC tablet (pictured) is a start, but it is a little too small and probably still too fragile. The bottom line is that it will be several years until K-12 education shifts in a significant way to e-textbooks. I think the shift will be led by the homeschoolers using wikibooks, followed by certain private schools, with the public schools taking at least a decade.

Steve Jobs is known for his reality distortion field. The RDF died with Steve. Apple's new CEO Tim Cook can't dodge or distort the reality that our public schools, which are laying off teachers, can't afford classrooms full of iPads. That's not going to change anytime soon.

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