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Old Feb 2, 2012, 09:55 AM   #1
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Apple Poised to Benefit from U.S. Government's Five-Year Push for Digital Textbooks




The Associated Press reports on a new initiative from the U.S. government to help push schools and textbook companies make the transition to digital textbooks over the next five years. With Apple pushing itself to the forefront of the digital textbook discussion with its iBooks Textbooks launch just two weeks ago, the company stands to significantly benefit if its iPad hardware becomes a primary tool in the move to digital textbooks.
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Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday challenged schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students' hands within five years. [...]

Tied to Wednesday's announcement at a digital town hall was the government's release of a 67-page "playbook" to schools that promotes the use of digital textbooks and offers guidance. The administration hopes that dollars spent on traditional textbooks can instead go toward making digital learning more feasible.
The report notes that the K-12 textbook industry is an $8 billion per year market in the U.S. and that textbook companies have been working for a number of years on digital initiatives. The primary roadblock, according to the textbook publishers, has been that schools simply don't have the hardware necessary to make the full commitment to digital learning.




With the iPad starting at $499, pricing is undoubtedly still a significant hurdle for schools that will need to purchase the devices in significant quantities, although Apple has been rumored to be looking to bring the entry-level pricing down in the coming months by continuing to offer the iPad 2 alongside the new iPad 3.

Article Link: Apple Poised to Benefit from U.S. Government's Five-Year Push for Digital Textbooks
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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Great timing on Apple's part!
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:02 AM   #3
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Maybe that's one of things Steve and Mr. Obama talked about. ^_^;
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:05 AM   #4
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Good, it's about time. Heavy, expensive non interactive textbooks are unnecessary relics in the digital age.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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Seems like more government waste. There is nothing wrong with ordinary textbooks, is there?
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:11 AM   #6
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:13 AM   #7
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Awesome news.

They just had to use the term 'Playbook'? LOL
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:14 AM   #8
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With Education it will eventually come down to price

While all this talk of digital textbooks sounds great, until the hardware price can come down, really down, it won't work in K-12 public schools.

Also, it's not in a school culture to put technology in the forefront. If every child will need a tablet, what happens if it breaks down? In California we have what is called the Williams Act. This was set up because schools were not providing essentials like TEXTBOOKS. We still fool the watchdogs by swapping books from school to school instead of purchasing more when needed. What makes you think we'll have additional iPads sitting around? Fundamental changes to education needs to happen first, like hiring me as a principal and getting rid of administrators that are unwilling to move into the present let alone prepare for the future.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post
Seems like more government waste. There is nothing wrong with ordinary textbooks, is there?
While I normally would agree with you, paying $300+ every semester for books seems like a unnecessary waste.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post
Seems like more government waste. There is nothing wrong with ordinary textbooks, is there?
Other than the fact that they are big, heavy, hard to store, don't update, and are outrageously overpriced, no. My summer job was moving books from the local schools and it is a HUGE pain. Digital books would benefit schools immensely.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post
Seems like more government waste. There is nothing wrong with ordinary textbooks, is there?
Wow! Luddite quote of the day.

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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:16 AM   #12
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A couple of problems

I greatly admire the direction Apple has gone with e-textbooks, and I know that if I were back in college I'd use it for that. That said, there are some things to consider when discussing the continuing use of textbooks., especially in elementary schools.

Currently, paper textbooks are handed back and re-used, thus saving on the need to buy new ones every year. In terms of education tax dollars, textbooks are often assigned per grade level, and change from curriculum to curriculum. Perhaps Apple could come up with a system that allows schools to hold unlimited license to a set of textbooks per school class, which would be deleted from students' iPads at the end of the year, so that incoming students to the same class could use them.

I would also suggest that the purchase of iPads themselves be the responsibility of parents, rather than the school system (thinking about tax dollars again). The reason: computer equipment of any type is subject to upgrading/replacement on an ongoing basis.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by dscuber9000 View Post
Other than the fact that they are big, heavy, hard to store, don't update, and are outrageously overpriced, no. My summer job was moving books from the local schools and it is a HUGE pain. Digital books would benefit schools immensely.
Most books don't really need updating, Pre-algebra is still pre-algebra, after all. Textbooks might be analog and old-fashioned, but for a school environment they have one quality the iPad doesn't have: the ability to take a beating and still be 100% as functional as they were before year after year. Can't say the same about an iPad.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:21 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mailhojo View Post
While all this talk of digital textbooks sounds great, until the hardware price can come down, really down, it won't work in K-12 public schools.

It's pretty clear that the price will be coming down this year. If Apple doesn't offer a cut in price, someone else will. Not inconceivable that Amazon make a go at it with some form of the Kindle Fire. It's really likely Apple's to lose. Given Apple's history with education market, I doubt they will.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by blueroom View Post
Good, it's about time. Heavy, expensive non interactive textbooks are unnecessary relics in the digital age.
While I like the idea of digital textbooks, the iPad is $500 before you even have a single book loaded on it. Since the books cost $14.99 and assuming you get the entire book instead of just chapters, you are looking at $630 just to provide six textbooks on a device that will last between 3 - 5 years. The cost of the average K-12 textbook is ~$60 to $80, which puts the cost around $360 - $420 and will last between 3 - 5 years. Even if the government does subsidize the iPads, schools are government funded entities anyway, so, as a taxpayer, you are still paying more for something that does the same job as a regular textbook.

Plus you will need insurance on the iPads for when they break or get stolen. And do you really want your 8 year old walking to school with $500 worth of electronics on them, making them a potential target for thieves? How many people would steal a bunch of textbooks versus how many people would steal an iPad?


I think the digital textbook idea will eventually replace printed textbooks, but the cost has to come down considerably before it can feasibly replace a printed book.

The other thing I worry about is that the area data density and total display area is a lot lower for the iPad textbooks as compared to a printed textbook. This makes comparisons harder and forces the authors to break ideas into smaller and smaller junks of information while emphasizing a "powerpoint" or presentation style of data display versus a the paragraph writing styles that tend to have better information and context transfer capabilities.

Overall, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, but it is good to see that we are starting the process.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:22 AM   #16
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While I normally would agree with you, paying $300+ every semester for books seems like a unnecessary waste.
Shoot, I spent upwards of $500 some semesters, and I was a lowly business major. Some of my pre-med / bio friends were closer to $1k. As long as they lower the cost of the e-textbooks in conjunction with moving to an iPad as the primary "book," this is actually going to be a financial benefit to college students.

A $499 iPad at the beginning of your first year would more than pay for itself if they can reduce prices of the books by a substantial amount.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:24 AM   #17
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There will be an 'Educational iPad' at a special price for individual students and teachers and massive volume discounts to educational establishments very soon.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:24 AM   #18
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Sounds like Obama has some AAPL in his pocket...
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:25 AM   #19
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Most books don't really need updating, Pre-algebra is still pre-algebra, after all. Textbooks might be analog and old-fashioned, but for a school environment they have one quality the iPad doesn't have: the ability to take a beating and still be 100% as functional as they were before year after year. Can't say the same about an iPad.
I beg to differ, most so need to change. You just cherry picked the one example that needs the least change.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:25 AM   #20
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Other than the fact that they are big, heavy, hard to store, don't update, and are outrageously overpriced, no. My summer job was moving books from the local schools and it is a HUGE pain. Digital books would benefit schools immensely.
And, spare your back.

The only current issue is the problem of the fairly delicate hardware necessary to use the e-books. And the expense of providing some sort of e-reader to every student.

I'm sure these problems will be solved in the near future, but at the moment they seem to me to be a sticking point in the widespread use e-textbooks, especially in the primary and secondary public schools.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:26 AM   #21
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Great timing on Apple's part!
Never mind that, they've got the next 5 years all figured out, at the very least.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:29 AM   #22
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iPad School.

Take a few features out of iPad 2 (camera? BT?), cheaper rudder case (tough plastic maybe)

$299/ea for bulk school purchase.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:33 AM   #23
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I beg to differ, most so need to change. You just cherry picked the one example that needs the least change.
I'm sorry, but realistically, most textbooks do not need to change every year at the K-12 level. Algebra, Trig, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Biology, Classics for English classes. These are all very well established topics with very little change at the core/basic level taught in K-12. The only classes I can think of that would benefit from being updated is History, but even then, most of the history I learned was pre-1940's and the core of those topics are do not dramatically change from year to year.

The only group that really benefits from the cost savings is College students because they get raped every quarter/semester on books whereas the subjects taught in K-12 are pretty static with used textbooks readily available (from what I remember at least).
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:40 AM   #24
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I would also suggest that the purchase of iPads themselves be the responsibility of parents, rather than the school system (thinking about tax dollars again). The reason: computer equipment of any type is subject to upgrading/replacement on an ongoing basis.
This is a big issue. iPads will breakdown, be broken, stepped on, have fluids spilled on them, etc, etc, etc. If all of a student's books are on one tablet, replacements need to be easy to get. If you have 3 kids, that means $1500 at the start of the year. That's a fair chunk of money and it's simply not going to work. Parents pay taxes and a lot of those taxes go towards education so I don't it's fair for them to be taxed twice.

Education will have to rethink its relationship to textbooks and technology. The old standards simply don't apply. Would Apple be willing to provide financing, tech support, insurance and backup storage? I really think it's the entire package that matters here, not simply which tablet a school ends up buying.
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Old Feb 2, 2012, 10:44 AM   #25
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This is a big issue. iPads will breakdown, be broken, stepped on, have fluids spilled on them, etc, etc, etc. If all of a student's books are on one tablet, replacements need to be easy to get. If you have 3 kids, that means $1500 at the start of the year. That's a fair chunk of money and it's simply not going to work. Parents pay taxes and a lot of those taxes go towards education so I don't it's fair for them to be taxed twice.

Education will have to rethink its relationship to textbooks and technology. The old standards simply don't apply. Would Apple be willing to provide financing, tech support, insurance and backup storage? I really think it's the entire package that matters here, not simply which tablet a school ends up buying.
Ehh a Otterbox or something similar would alleviate a lot of the accidental drops.
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