Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post: Elaine Hirsch: How iPad Textbooks can be Used in Schools

Guest Post by Elaine Hirsch

Thank you Elaine for developing another blog post about a critical piece in our educational system.

How iPad Textbooks can be Used in Schools

As technological innovation continues in our modern society, changes in the delivery of content are now foremost. Desktop and laptop computers quickly became more commonplace after their initial appearance, and it will be the same in the case of e-readers and tablet computers. While many think the novelty of the iPad will be short-lived, a strong camp of thinkers is promoting iPads as the next classroom revolution.

iPads are at this point still the most technologically innovative and user-friendly tablets available. The iPad offers mobile multimedia options, thus kicking learning up a notch as an entertaining way to engage students in a slim, portable package. Many teachers from elementary schools to
master's degree programs realize the future of textbooks will be digital, both to save paper and energy, and for easier distribution.

Therefore, the logical step is to use the latest innovation in personal computing tools to be able to access these textbooks. Schools in 600 districts across the nation are already supplying their students with new iPads.

George Fox University in Oregon has attracted students by giving out laptops to incoming freshmen since 1991. This has always been an expensive program, and officials have considered dropping it. However, offering iPads might prove just as attractive to prospective students for half the cost of the laptops they've been offering.

The principal at Burlington High School in suburban Boston sees the iPad as a more cost-efficient alternative to textbooks. The iPad's $500 price tag seems like an intensive budget drain, but in the long term the savings are significant. Multiple textbooks (and buying new editions) per student easily exceed this amount every year. On the other hand, digital textbooks can be updated by the publishers with ease and at somewhat reduced cost.

Even schools with smaller budgets are purchasing the tablets. Woodford County High School in Kentucky is the first public school in the state to give every single one of its 1,250 students a new iPad. The school is using the iPads for digital textbooks, and for the many subject-specific learning apps, such as Star Walk for astronomy, Molecules for biology, iTranslate for language courses, and many more.

The iPad is front and center in the future of education. By engaging students through multimedia, this isn't just an entertaining tech gadget; it's a novel educational device.

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