The dark side of iBooks 2 / Textbooks

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Hephaestus, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Hephaestus macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    Let me start by saying by no means is this an anti Apple thread. I'm a huge Apple fan who owns a multitude of their products. However, after watching the Education Keynote I feel somewhat troubled. One reason is because of what Apple are proposing and the other is that I have seen literally nobody say what I am about to.

    I just saw the iBooks 2 demo and it left me a little worried. As an owner of an iPad let me say that I do use iBooks and that it is a great app! This is no bash at iBooks! For me iBooks is a great way to casually read books and supplement learning. The key word here is supplement.

    From what I see, Apple are trying to replace the Textbook in Schools. Personally, I think this is actually quite frightening and worrying. Let me explain why.

    1. When I saw the demo, literally every page of every book was filled with huge videos and animations and what not. The actual text was probably the least populous part of the page. Doesn't anyone else see the negatives of this? Children in todays world already spend to much time in front of a screen. Technology in a sense has decreased a child's ability to pay attention without some fancy display in front of them. I fear that if a child is bought up with this tool, it will have the opposite effect to what is intended.

    Learning to me is about absorbing information. One READS information and processes it. This is a tough thing to do since it requires a lot of brain activity, which is why learning is always hard. Thats the point! However, once you have learned something it's satisfying and it stays with you. With this method its more like watching a documentary or television! It's not really learning at all. Its more like watching videos with some small captions.

    There is no critical thinking involved since it is a passive experience. Its almost like a person cannot read a book anymore without some sort of stimulation. To me it will only worsen a kids lack of concentration and make them more unable to sit and read a proper book with focus.

    2. Why has nobody mentioned that in essence this will result in children staring at a screen for hours on end every single day?! We already spend too much time in front a screen as it is. If this made its way into classrooms it would be awful! A child's eyes are still developing and are very sensitive. All they do outside of school is play on their computers and are attached to their phones. Now.. they have to be attached to a screen in school as well?

    Personally I think there could be huge health implications of this.

    3. Again I'm not anti Apple here, but does anybody else wish that there were some things they could do without some huge corporation being involved? Reading books to me is about escapism. I like reading my books because its just me and the book. I don't want Apple or Google or whoever it is knowing every single book I read and what I grew up reading as a child. All of this information will probably be profiled and be used to sell me more stuff through advertising.

    Do we really need to throw children into the evils of this?

    4. I also fear that this will serve few purposes other than to make children lazy. As previously mentioned this isn't a proper learning experience. Schiller mentioned in the Keynote that carrying textbooks around in a bag is a chore! Come on people! Part of being a kid is carrying your heavy bag around school! It instills discipline and teaches that child a lesson. It makes them grateful when they get into class and can sit down and learn!

    Children bought up on this proposal will only be more lazy and unwilling to do anything that is handed to them on a plate, or in this case a fancy glass screen.

    There are several other points but you probably get the idea by now. Let me reinforce though that this is NOT an anti iBooks thread! iBooks is a good tool. It should be used to supplement learning when necessary. It can be good at this. It should NOT be used as a primary teaching tool though and I hope this never makes it way into schools for the reasons I stated.

  2. sammich, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    You mostly had me until the end when you went on about subjecting your still developing child's body to heavy bags.
  3. LiloThePleo macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2010
    I rather thought it was geared more towards university students as opposed to children. But either way, not all books will be -that- interactive. For example I am a Primary (Elementary) school teacher in training and beyond a few videos of lessons, visual content will not be particularly useful. Whereas for a design student visual elements would be a lot more useful. I think we will need to wait for some more books to get out there before we can make any adequate judgements.

    Also the bag comment, seriously?
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Are you sure you didn't mean to put this on your blog?
  5. Hephaestus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    What was wrong with the bag comment? :p Seriously though I mean it. When I was a kid in school I carried my bag of books. In the conference Phil Schiller mentioned this as a negative thing. It does a child good.


    Why should I? Its my opinion.. if I was singing countless praises would you be saying blog it? Probably not.
  6. jabingla2810 macrumors 68020

    Oct 15, 2008
    The problem is much wider than this.

    Kids and students these days spend a lot of time using devices such as an iPad, iPod touch, iPhone and a vast array of similar products that aren't made by Apple.

    If you have a kid in class, who spent 3 hours last night playing cut the rope, watching youtube and looking at gaming websites on their iPod, it is unrealistic to expect them to be engaged by a black and white paper textbook about science.

    Technology has moved on, for better or worse, and to keep students interested and engaged the schools must adapt.

    I'm not sure if Apple has 'nailed it' with iBooks, but it certainly seems a step in the right direction.

    Whether or not technology moving in this direction is a good thing is another argument. I know lots of parents who can't relate to their kids because they don't want to go play outside anymore, they just want to be on a computer of some kind.

    However, it's happening, and things will continue to move more in that direction.

    As far as their being too many pictures and video's, the books can be put in portrait to show just the body of text, with the interactive stuff pushed to the side, which looks to be a bit more readable.

    But do kids still even read books?

    Thats another question aswell. I'm currently doing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and 2 years in I haven't even touched a text book. Whats the point when you can find it all much easier, and narrow down to the stuff you want quicker on the internet.

    It's going to be a battle to get kids to read these books at all, instead of using Google.

    We can't expect kids to learn like they did in the 80's, or even like I did in school 10 years ago. It's a different world and we can't apply our values onto them because they just don't apply.

    It could also be questioned how earnest Apple seem about this too. If they have millions of kids and students using the iPad in class, what tablet computer will they be buying themselves come christmas?
  7. Hephaestus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    You make good points. However things will only move in this direction if people allow it too, I don't like the defeatist attitude some have when they act like they have no say in the matter.

    Why is this unrealistic? I used to play on my PS1 and Gameboy when I was a kid in the evenings but I still managed to study and do well at school. A lot of excuses are made nowadays for children. The truth is not many children feel the desire to learn because they are continuously stimulated by technology and gadgets. A lot of it falls to parents to be honest.

    Also, I'm not saying they need to be handed boring black and white pieces of paper. There are many wonderful physical books out there that one can learn from. The internet and tools like iBooks should be used as well! I'm not saying they shouldn't, but they should be used as a supplement.

    Interaction with teachers is very important also.

    How is it another argument? This is the argument.

    Again, theres nothing wrong with using technology and online tools to help and supplement learning. I do it all the time as does everyone else. Thats not my point. My point is that its not a healthy or good idea to bring this type of technology into schools for the reasons I mentioned.

    Good point.
  8. tdream macrumors 65816

    Jan 15, 2009
    Funnily enough it is probably the only kind of strength training a lot of kids have when growing up :D
  9. jabingla2810 macrumors 68020

    Oct 15, 2008
    I think you have good points too.

    I don't think it's a case of allowing things to move in this direction in terms of technology. It's going to happen no matter what, unless the government come out and say, "Apple, Samsung, HTC, stop making better products because it's effecting the next generation in a really bad way."

    Access to the Internet and its services will continue to be easier and it will also continue to be a better, more interactive experience.

    You do make a good point about how we used to study at school and also have our games consoles at home. I guess I'm a similar age to you.

    Maybe with the way the Internet looks and works these days, kids expectations of a consumption experience is just vastly more interactive and engaging than a traditional text book.

    (I'm trying my hardest to not sound like an Apple employee)

    I think in terms of health, then I agree, currently staring at a screen all day is not good for ones health, but it's a double edged sword.

    How many times did your parents tell you to move away from the TV because it hurts your eyes? Did you ever listen?

    What about sharing car journeys into work because it's bad for the environment, is anybody doing that?

    As a race we seem to be becoming more lazy, and we take the easy option 9 times out of 10.

    "I'm not sharing a lift, it's easier to drive myself"

    "I'm not turning the TV off to save my vision, what else am I going to do? Go outside?"

    "I could read a paper book because it's easier on my eyes, but the iPad has video and weighs less"

    So I agree with your points, interaction with teachers is good, and not all advances in technology are for the better, and maybe I have a defeatist attitude, but I can't see how we as a race can stop things becoming more and more like this.

    However, I do like your enthusiasm that we might be able to stop it :)
  10. rsvrfactory macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2011
    Chicago area
    I totally disagree. My kids have their books in their backpack and that thing must weigh 50 lbs at least! That's craxy for a 7th or 8th grade girl to carry around. I'm afraid it could cause injury to their back or shoulders and that's not good when you're omly 12 or 13 and still developing.

    Having a 1lbs iPad/tablet to replace 50lbs of books sounds like a good idea to me.
  11. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    What a grown up thread! congrats OP for having the guts to say what many of us thought. The only thing, I would add, from a neurodevelopmental point of view, shouldn't we worry that in providing animations and multi-medial supplements to go alongside the texts, we are merely making the brain more lazy? No longer do you have to imagine with your mind's eye those wonderful pictures that text elicits, instead we'll provide it for you...and more worrying, everyone's pictures will be the same...

    what happened to being different? being crazy?

    That's not to say the venture doesn't have very many positive and progressive points, BUT for my kids, I am going to pass on this experiment until they are a little bit older and their brain has stopped developing at the rate children's under the age of 14 is...
  12. Zcott macrumors 68020

    Oct 18, 2009
    Belfast, Ireland
    I understand the OP's issues with the textbooks being in digital form. However, how about looking at the plus side? You can see how a cell develops and mutates. You can zoom into it and see what it's made of. You can watch what happens when you combine two chemicals without having to do it, or you can watch how cities have grown. For music textbooks, you can hear the extracts of famous pieces as many times as you want - not just if the teacher has the CD.

    For watching how things develop or react, iPads are a great educational tool. For detailed analysis, text is better, and there'll be text. However, these textbooks are all aimed at high school kids, who aren't engaged. This technology is a great way of bringing the subject to life and engaging their attention.
  13. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    There's a difference between bags being heavy, and bags being unnecessarily heavy. When you see children's bags chock full with textbooks, in addition to a laptop (yes, children in my primary school buy their own laptops), I sometimes wish all of them could be consolidated into a single iPAd.

    As for animation making children too lazy to think, I find the sad reality is that most children are not trained to think critically in the first place. Rote learning wall of texts from a textbook is just going to kill their passion for learning. This may let them understand what they're reading better, and let their class assignments take care of the critical reading bit.
  14. Shoot macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2008

    the iPad is a fantastic tool and I only wish it existed when I was in education. The reason that the presentation's books were so full of graphics and so light on text was to show what the platform can do. If the demo content was 90% text then it wouldn't really show us what's different from iBooks 1.

    You are talking like someone from the 1800s complaining about the fact they could all of a sudden make picture books easily and that language would dissolve at the hands of this image-based witchcraft.
  15. Carl Sagan macrumors 6502a

    Carl Sagan

    May 31, 2011
    The Universe
  16. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    My arguments against your arguments:

    1. The textbooks are developed by others: literally anyone can make textbooks for iOS. Some authors will decide to add lots of interactive content (like you are mentioning), others can choose to only make an iTextbook consisting of text and images - nothing else.

    So your argument is false: it depends from book to book whether this is the case or not, and luckily you can choose to buy whatever book you want: one with lots of interactive content, or one with pure text.

    2. "We already spend too much time in front a screen as it is."
    Wow, stop it there. That's your opinion. I dear to bet that these things have been said for anything. Perhaps when the light bulb was just a few years old, people were saying "get away from that artificial light, isn't the sun good enough?" - or with books when there was no television or radio: "Are you again reading? We already spend too time in front of papers as it is..."

    You are stating as a fact that we spend too much time in front of a screen. That's your opinion, not a fact. Others might think we don't spend enough time in front of a screen.

    And besides: you are assuming that everyone is behind a computer display or something like that whenever they are gone from work or school. There are still enough people out there that don't use computers except for when they are at school or at work.

    "A child's eyes are still developing and are very sensitive."
    That's true, but they are just looking at things. In this case at a display. The same argument could be said for looking at a book all day.

    It's a fairy tale that you get bad eyes when you spend a lot of time in front of the TV/computer/mobile. They say that to you as a child, so you don't spend too much time indoors... but it isn't true.

    If you are worried about health implications, than be worried about 3G connections or WiFi connections. We've had television displays for many decades now, but GSM, 3G, LTE, WiFi technology etc. is very new. No one knows what the consequences are. It's very well possible that anyone who carries a mobile phone everyday in their right pocket, will get cancer in 50 years at that spot.

    So if you are worried about health, worry about the wireless technologies where we know practically nothing about (looking at long-term effects).

    3. So what is your solution? You don't want others to know what kind of textbooks you used at school? Seriously, if others want to know, they will know it. Most people buy their schoolbooks online or in-store and pay with a creditcard or something similar. All this data is saved as well.

    The only way no one knows what you have read, is when you buy a book with cash in a street and store where there are no cameras at all.

    4. "It instills discipline and teaches that child a lesson. It makes them grateful when they get into class and can sit down and learn!"
    From this sentence I can only conclude that you are from an older generation. When I get into class and sit down, I don't think "Oh thank you mighty God/Allah/Flying-Spaghetti-Monster/Anything-Else for giving me the opportunity to learn something." Having to drag around extra weight is negative.

    Think about the health implications: is it really that good for a young person to drag around so much weight? What about the kid's back?
    And the problem here is that in highschool the lower the grade, the more books you have to drag around (at least over here). When you get older (and thus stronger and get a stronger back), you have to carry around less books because you have chosen your study-direction.

    If your child (or anyone's child) is lazy, than that is the parents' fault. Making live easier doesn't mean that people become lazier: they will put their energy in something else. To drive the human race forward.

  17. Hephaestus, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    Hephaestus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    I'm in my early 20's :p


    Thanks buddy you seem like a great guy.
  18. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    You are mistaken if you think that everybody learns the same way, and that everybody learns best by reading. Some people retain information best that way, sure. Others do better watching videos, or listening to someone lecture, or by doing it themselves.

    The point is, no single form of learning is perfect for everyone. IMO that's a big strength, not a weakness, of iBooks: there's some reading, there's some interactive elements, there's some videos, etc. Because it mixes different forms of learning, it appeals to a wider group of people.

    This one is a joke, right? Do you think that all those books you read as a child published themselves? The publishing industry is just as corporate as Google or Apple.

    And worrying that Apple will know what books you've read is just unnecessary paranoia. Your ISP knows which websites you've visited, and if you happen to have a grocery store rewards card, they know exactly what food you're eating. Your bank and credit card company know exactly where you're shopping. Apple knowing which textbooks you've bought should be pretty low on your list of concerns.

    So, we're worried about straining their underdeveloped eyes looking at a screen... but you think they should carry around a heavy bag full of books? Double standards much? Speaking from experience, heavy books meant I was less likely to take them home with me, therefore less likely to complete my assigned readings.

    On the list of benefits of an iPad:

    - Books will be up-to-date. Instead of a school buying a book and keeping it for 5+ years, they can afford to upgrade books on a regular basis. This means more relevant information for students.
    - Immediate feedback. On an iPad you can include tests, quizzes, etc. This gives the student the opportunity to immediately test what they've learned. With the right setup, you could extend this so that the teacher can track exactly which questions students got wrong, how long they took to answer questions, etc. There are all kinds of opportunities to improve learning by having teachers tailor their teaching to specific children.
    - Want more information than the textbook has? Link to Wikipedia, or other online resources, right from the book. No longer is creating a book a balancing act between weight and content. All of the extra content can be included and accessed at will, at no extra cost or weight.

    And those are just what comes to mind immediately. The upsides of digital textbooks far outweigh the negatives. I do agree that staring a screen is likely not the best thing in the world, but between advances happening every day in eInk and the inevitable "Retina" iPad, I think that problem will go away as technology improves.
  19. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    I really thought you were much older (fourties?) because of your way of thinking, but okay. So, how do you feel about my arguments?
  20. treyjustice macrumors 65816


    Jun 14, 2009
    I think you are totally missing the point. Our education sucks here in the US already. What is the difference between looking at a piece of paper all day vs a lcd screen? I am a college student and I think this will be amazing and certainly help me more. Just because I'm looking at an iPad instead of a bunch of paper doesn't mean I'm going to get lazy and fat....
  21. Hephaestus, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    Hephaestus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    I agree with your comment about the publisher designing the layouts, that's an important point so thanks for pointing that out.

    But, I find it very hard to believe most won't incorporate what I mentioned since that is the point after all is it not? If text is supposedly boring nowadays and not engaging as some say, what's the point of bringing simply text to the iPad? It eliminates the whole point of Apple's unique experience argument and adds the health implications I mentioned.

    I find your comments the screen statement quite naive though. Spending excessive periods of time in front of a screen, especially a child is bad for eyesight. This isn't a myth I'm afraid. Some spend more time than others, I understand that of course. It's not hard to gather however that youths nowadays do spend too much time with their gadgets and it does have negative effects.

    I don't understand your lightbulb analogy though... it seems silly and somewhat desperate if I'm honest. If you're suggesting that people shouldn't stare at lightbulbs, I agree.

    You mentioned 3G and Wifi signals in regards to health implications. This is actually a very good point and it does worry me at times! I just didn't mention it because it was off topic.

    Also, some people keep referring to the heavy bag comment.. :p Ok, if the bag is extremely heavy and can hurt the child then obviously they shouldn't carry it. It was a figure of speech and only applies to a reasonable weight. In any case, don't schools have lockers anymore?

    Your last comment is completely right. Making life easier does not always mean people become lazier. But, I still think the points I mentioned raise some serious questions.

    I find it interesting how you associate gratitude to religion almost naturally. Non religious people can't show gratitude?


    What are you talking about? Who said books published themselves? What does publishing have to do with anything? I really think this is a valid point. I know other information is tracked and logged but that doesn't mean everything should. I don't understand your attitude I'm afraid.

    I've addressed this point.

    On the list of benefits of an iPad:

    These are fair comments. I wasn't suggesting that were not good sides to this proposal. This thread is called the "dark side of iBooks 2". There is both good and bad. For me though, the bad outweighs the good. Again, what you mentioned you could be used for supplementing learning, which is what it is used for today. It doesn't need to be a primary tool.
  22. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    The tablet approach has features that can change everything.

    Can teach in different languages, simultaneously with English, and gradually switch to English as the kid progresses.

    Science, physics, biology, etc. can finally be taught at a high level in every school. Virtual experiments, etc.

    Class subjects as Apps. Schools would choose from competing Apps for, say, teaching the subject of DNA. The history class across the hall would be dealing with an App on the Civil War produced by Ken Burns!
  23. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    No big argument from me--just a yes vote for Apple's plan--I think the iBook Textbook plan is a great idea--wish I had the chance to use something like that when I used textbooks.
  24. thewitt macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2011
    Don't fear the technology. Embrace it and move forward, cause its not going away.

    Paper books will continue to decline and be replaced by digital fictions, either interactive or not, it doesn't matter.

    I'm a prodigious reader and have not picked up a paper book in three years. I am not looking back. Neither should you.

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