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Some Issues with Apple's Digital Textbook Revolution!

Image courtesy: Apple

The announcement of Apple yesterday introducing a new way to revolutionize education in the digital world has raised some eyebrows as well. It's all very well to have authors write textbooks using Apple's interface and students using those textbooks (or buying new ones at really cheap prices) on their iPads, but some key questions have to be answered first.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is: Is it feasible to assume everybody will own an iPad in school and college to use the new interface? Students in schools and colleges will require an iPad for themselves and it should be within the reach of their pockets. Today, the iPad costs a neat $500, and it may not be very feasible for students to dish out that much money. Apple yesterday only announced the release of the iBooks 2; there were no plans mentioned about any further methods to increase the access of iPads to schools and colleges.

Ideally, schools should offer iPads on discount so that students may save money on buying the iPad and then add textbooks to it. When we talk about schools (especially grade schools), it is a little impractical to imagine younger kids owning an iPad and carrying it around.

The CEO and founder of Teachers Pay Teachers (an open education marketplace) Paul Edelman said that the digital textbook revolution by Apple and the subsequent reliance on the iPad is "either a brilliant strategy on Apple’s part, or it will make its overall impact underwhelming. Teachers have already earned over $4 million on Teachers Pay Teachers selling course guides and other materials to other educators, something that shows many teachers will likely take up Apple’s offer to create textbooks using iBooks Author and sell them on the iBookstore.”

Another issue is related to the iBooks Author app. The catch is that in the end user license agreement, if any author creates an e-book, using the app, he/she will only be able to sell it on iBookstore. This seems a tad unreasonable, given that it's a free service.   

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