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Apple's textbook plan feels like a blast from the past

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 11:46 AM

Post your comments for Apple's textbook plan feels like a blast from the past here
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#2 User is offline   thinkman 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:19 PM

This is not 1983, and the iPad is not a Commodore 64. But, it seems you're not alone in your conclusions, so we'll probably just have to wait and see what actually happens. Personally, as an educator, I find Apple's efforts extremely encouraging. Having worked with students for many years, I believe I have a better take on what helps them to learn, and what doesn't. I don't know your background, but I would be shocked to think that anyone with a background of working with children or young adults on any level would pen such an article.

This post has been edited by Jason Snell: 20 January 2012 - 12:50 PM
Reason for edit: Personal attacks not welcome here.

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#3 User is offline   quakerotis 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:20 PM

There are many reasons to adapt to the new technology, either Apple's or anyone else's. First, the enormous cost of textbooks could be mitigated by this technology. Second, the waste of paper printing textbooks which have no value after the first (college) student uses them. Third, the elimination of paper printing is more environmentally friendly than the continued use of tree sausage.
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#4 User is offline   TonyStark 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:20 PM

IMO, you are missing the point. Everything the iPad does can be done by computers. So why is the iPad such a big deal? Because it both facilitates & personalizes the computing experience. It can the same thing for textbooks in a way that interactive CD-ROM and other computer programs can not. You can start with one very simply observation: Reading a text book on an iPad is a much different experience than reading a text book on a computer. The effect on textbooks is manifiied from that simple case.
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#5 User is offline   DanielBaker 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:22 PM

Thanks! someone gets it...

How is this a cost savings to any school? The book is the students, and the school has to purchase a new book for each student. Every year (for year long classes)... BUT it gets worse, many classes at the highschool level are semester or quarter courses. This means that a quarter course that is offered all year would cost the school $60 per "seat" per year... for a book that might only cost $60 new and would last 3+ years...

Add on the cost of the iPad.. and well you get the picture...

-Dan
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#6 User is offline   KristineW 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:32 PM

Yes, these prognostications have been made before but not until now did we have the portable means to provide access to knowledge. As a former teacher I can relate to the early false dependence on technology to be the answer to keeping the kids engaged and learning. However, I believe we have finally reached a point in the development of hardware and software to justify some of these claims. Furthermore, the attitudes and habits of today's youth lean heavily toward this type of immersion.

Recently I was in the locker room at the local Y during a swim meet and suddenly realized it was extremely quiet considering the number of young people in the room. Glancing around I saw nearly every kid had out an electronic device and was engaged in texting, reading or playing. Sure they aren't all digging into the latest algebra formula but they could be in a position to be working on homework if it were in digital form.
And comparing what is possible today to CDs and programs on school computers negates the main difference, that of portability.

One thing that bothers me is the expectation that Apple has to hit a grand slam homerun on everything they announce. Why can't some things be incremental in the early stages? I do recall how the iPad was panned at first and few reviewers/analysts though this was a game changer. Ha.

Give this some time to work out. I think you will be surprised at how it may change a significant portion of the education environment.
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#7 User is offline   Glenn_Fleishman 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:53 PM

View Postthinkman, on 20 January 2012 - 12:19 PM, said:

Personally, as an educator, I find Apple's efforts extremely encouraging. Having worked with students for many years, I believe I have a better take on what helps them to learn, and what doesn't. I don't know your background, but I would be shocked to think that anyone with a background of working with children or young adults on any level would pen such an article.


I don't see anything except assertions, insults, and condescension here, not even anecdotes of technology improving outcomes. The point of technology in a classroom of any form should be to have a beneficial effect relative to the price of including technology instead of paying nothing at all or paying for more teachers, more teaching training, or more non-core curriculum enhancement.

Apple's argument is an old one, and that is my criticism. They are bringing nothing new to the table in terms of how they are discussing the problem, and no quantitative information that should be considered before schools shift money or make new expenditures.

It is worthwhile to be skeptical of claims that a new device (a terminal! a desktop! a laptop! an iPad!) will magically improve outcomes. Mr. Schiller was talking specifically about engagement, which is a way to him to imply better results (whether measured in happiness, college entrance rates, absenteeism, or whatever you like) without actually using numbers. Because those numbers don't exist.

This is an entirely separate argument, which I expect you have conflated but cannot tell, from whether computers or tablets deserve a place in the classroom. They absolutely do. Kids have to be presented at an early age with the reality for the rest of their lives. Lower-income families may own little or no computer/mobile technology at home, and schools are the place to at least attempt to level the advantage of children from higher-income families by providing them with a solid understanding of the future in which they will be competing for jobs.

Don't confuse that with whether computer-assisted instruction has a measurably positive benefit. So far, there's very little proof that it does separate from having computers at all. In the SRI meta-study, for instance, reading scores were improved by providing access to computers, but not measurably (in most of the surveyed studies) from adding software-based reading drills.

And I'm afraid my final paragraph wasn't read by your teacher eyes. There are already thousands of useful iPad apps that would aid in teaching concepts in an interactive way that don't have to be folded into a new kind of textbook authoring and licensing. If tomorrow, billionaires gave every kid on the planet an iPad, I would applaud. It would change them profoundly. 30-year-old ideas about multimedia textbooks will not.
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#8 User is offline   ChopinBlues 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:55 PM

Are you serious? You're comparing an Apple II to an iPad? Hey Glenn, I presume you haven't bought a new car since you turned 16 or so -- after all, they're all still just cars!
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#9 User is offline   Glenn_Fleishman 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:55 PM

View PostKristineW, on 20 January 2012 - 12:32 PM, said:

Yes, these prognostications have been made before but not until now did we have the portable means to provide access to knowledge. As a former teacher I can relate to the early false dependence on technology to be the answer to keeping the kids engaged and learning. However, I believe we have finally reached a point in the development of hardware and software to justify some of these claims.


Thank you for the thoughtful response. It may not be clear, but I am a fan of using the iPad in education, but not for the arguments that Apple provides about making interactive textbooks.
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#10 User is offline   Glenn_Fleishman 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:58 PM

View PostChopinBlues, on 20 January 2012 - 12:55 PM, said:

Are you serious? You're comparing an Apple II to an iPad? Hey Glenn, I presume you haven't bought a new car since you turned 16 or so -- after all, they're all still just cars!


I did not compare an Apple II to an iPad. I compared the promises being made about multimedia-enhanced textbooks providing an amorphous and unmeasurable benefit to students 30 years ago and today. The iPad is an immersive and astounding bit of technology, but just like magic hardware doesn't make software suddenly easier or better, neither does have the right delivery platform provide a benefit from a concept unable to prove itself over decades.

Read my final paragraph again. For me, the future of the iPad in education, where I believe it has a place, is in apps that provide specific and useful supplementation.
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#11 User is offline   Aryugaetu 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 01:00 PM

Thank you, Kristine, you said everything I was thinking. It pains me to see people try to shoot down untested brilliant ideas before they can be born. They need a good dose of... http://herestothecrazyones.com/

First, textbooks are out of date by the time they are printed. Second, they offer very poor adaption to people of limited disabilities (don't forget them!) There is a huge assortment of braille readers for iPads and iPhones. (http://www.apple.com...le-display.html) Perhaps, something as simple as having it read to them aloud.

We must push forward. It may not be perfect and the costs rather high, but (if you missed the beginning of Apple's keynote) the US is doing a terrible job of educating our kids. Can we not afford to have smart kids? ...Can we not afford to give our kids the best future possible?

This post has been edited by Jason Snell: 20 January 2012 - 01:49 PM
Reason for edit: Don't make it personal.

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#12 User is offline   MacintoshaFanatica 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 01:03 PM

View Postthinkman, on 20 January 2012 - 12:19 PM, said:

This is not 1983, and the iPad is not a Commodore 64. But, it seems you're not alone in your conclusions, so we'll probably just have to wait and see what actually happens. Personally, as an educator, I find Apple's efforts extremely encouraging. Having worked with students for many years, I believe I have a better take on what helps them to learn, and what doesn't. I don't know your background, but I would be shocked to think that anyone with a background of working with children or young adults on any level would pen such an article.



I'm an educator. I've been teaching young people for 15 years, and this article makes excellent points. Mr. Fleishman also cites an interesting study and article to back up his argument. So hopefully you're not shocked someone with a background in education appreciates and agrees with many of the points in this article. I do appreciate Apple's efforts, as does Mr. Fleishman, but he is making the point that evidence is lacking that the interactivity and portability will in and of itself change the results of student learning in a significant way.
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#13 User is offline   Glenn_Fleishman 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 01:07 PM

View PostAryugaetu, on 20 January 2012 - 01:00 PM, said:

Thank you, Kristine, you said everything I was thinking. It pains me to see the unimaginative try to shoot down untested brilliant ideas


There's a difference between using a portable immersive device to new ends, and the line Apple was selling about interactive digital textbooks. As I note in my article, decades of research have already shot down "brilliant" ideas: they've been tested and found wanting.

I fully support the use of technology in the classroom, but it must come from the notion of looking back at what works and building on it, while also rethinking what needs to be done. As the New York Times noted in the article I cite, technologists tend to push hardware first without having a plan as to what to do with it.
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#14 User is offline   Luis_Alejandro 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 01:13 PM

Maybe you are right!

I had a magnificent experience when I was at the Gutemberg's Museum at Mainz/Maguncia en Germany.
Sitting side to side there were a hand-copied Bible and a Gutemberg's Bible.
You almost cannot note the difference, except that the G's has full justified text.

Gutemberg took a costly object (the hand copied Bible) and made it cheaper, allowing more people to get it.
The printing and publishing evolved.
Maybe this is the moment in textbooks' history in which we took what there is and make it cheaper... then evolution will come.
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