Tablet computers (iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, etc.) have experienced a rapidly growing presence in classrooms. They can be smaller, lighter, and less costly than many laptop computers. Recently, Apple announced an agreement with three of the biggest textbook publishing companies that certainly has the potential to accelerate the presence of these mobile technologies. Highly interactive textbooks will soon become available for download at the projected maximum price of $14.95.
Several textbook publishers currently make online versions of classroom books (eBooks) available for access from both school and home. These digital textbooks include such features as images, audio files, animations, narrated text, links to related websites and streaming video, and interactive review games. Some also include management tools for teachers. Apple promotes the new iBooks2 as offering a whole new level of interactivity.
According to the Apple website:
“A new kind of textbook. For a new kind of student. Students will now experience the most amazing textbooks they’ve ever read. They can flip through a book by sliding their finger along thumbnail images of the pages. If they don’t know the definition of a word, one tap takes them to a glossary or dictionary. No longer limited to a single picture to illustrate the text, now students can flick through a gorgeous photo gallery or dive into an image with interactive captions. They can use a finger to rotate a 3D object to show a human brain from every angle, or have the answer spring to life in an interactive chapter review.” (http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/)
Whether Apple’s bold claims will prove true – only time will tell. Will the cost of iPads and iBook subscriptions offset the replacement costs of hardcover textbooks? Will all schools interested in iPad technology be able to provide full-scale wireless access?
One thing is certain. A tablet PC in a student backpack vs. a stack of hardcover books will substantially lighten the load and will focus information access to one digital tool.