From laptops to smartphones and tablets, Apple has revolutionized the entire tech industry. It has been at the forefront of technology for a long time, and continuously seeks ways to facilitate the lives of people who use tech products. Now, it aims to improve an area which has not been aggressively pursued in a long time – education. The education sector today needs a lot of improvements, and perhaps the integration of technology in it would be a great start. That’s what Apple has targeted, and as usual, has succeeded in conveying the idea of this integration.
On January 19, 2012, Apple held an event to emphasize the use of its technology in this sector. The idea presented was to use the iPad as a replacement for textbooks, due to the fact that the iPad acts as an excellent e-book reader. As widely understood textbooks are bulky and get worn out after a couple of years of use. By making the textbook ‘digital’, the education sector will get a new insight into using technology for learning. Old methods of teaching and learning will be changed, and that’s what a revolution is all about, changing old methods and standards.
This is not the first time Apple has courted the education sector. The (now revamped) iTunes U has been there for a quite a while, and has been offering different lessons and courses since its inception. Recently iTunes U was updated, bringing in a lot of improvements. For those who are not familiar, it is a resource for different lessons and educational podcasts. Apple’s products have been the preferred tech items for high school students in countries like the US and UK, mainly because Apple offers its products to students at a discounted price. Its popularity among the youth also helps. Statistics show that the iPad is the number 1 tech product on teenagers’ wish list. No wonder Apple decided to make it more attractive and more useful for those who desire it the most.
All things aside, though Apple is working hard (and still struggling) to revolutionize the education system, these efforts will eventually benefit Apple. It’s quite obvious that in the long run, it will have lasting impact on way students deal with books and education. Education can be really costly, and by that we don’t mean just the tuition fees. It also includes various other expenses – including books that change every semester. In countries with strict laws against piracy, students must buy authentic and thus oft-expensive books. Obviously purchase of authentic books must be underlined regardless of the country’s stance on piracy, but that’s a separate discussion. All the books required for a single semester can cost over hundreds of dollars.
Textbooks for iPad
So the solution to this is simply to ‘go digital’. E-books are affordable, easily available, they can be interactive and engaging, and most of all, they can be updated so that the user doesn’t need to buy a new book. That’s the philosophy behind ‘Textbooks for iPad’. Students can have access to all textbooks they need. The question is, how cheap can digital textbooks be? Apple has set a standard pricing for music and other content on its digital stores, and same is the case with the iBooks store. They promise to deliver all textbooks for less than 15 US dollars. Which means this would significantly reduce the overall costs of acquiring books. Just a one-time investment of purchasing an iPad (at a lower price by availing the student discount from Apple), and then buying books that are inexpensive, interactive, regularly updated, long lasting, and much better than physical books. Books that make the user want to read them, and really turn the ‘studying’ experience into a ‘learning’ experience.
Although this small step by Apple might seem like a single attempt, it’s not that simple. The whole education system is based on books – the driving units of education – and Apple has very strategically targeted this area. However, that’s the reason for criticism as well. People say, not everyone can afford an iPad. As mentioned earlier, this is just a one-time investment, and it is worth the investment. Buying textbooks every semester will cost a lot, maybe thousands of dollars by the end of an academic program. Buying an iPad significantly reduces that cost. Students no longer need to carry a heavy satchel up their shoulders.
What’s even better is that Apple has provided the authoring tool as well – iBooks Author, which anyone can use to create interactive books like the ones available at the iBook store. Plus doing so requires no special skill; the program is really easy to use. All that’s left now is to wait for more publishers to support Apple in this campaign, so that students won’t need to rely on printed books anymore. That being said, even students need to understand the benefits of the campaign that Apple has put so much effort into, and they should give it a try. That is what will be the perfect start for Apple in the education sector. Perhaps the future of education is here, and it’s digital for sure.