Digital textbooks created by Textbook Companies

I wish the length between posts could speak cause then I wouldn't have to write this or the next post. Time quickly slips by so I will try to recap because I feel iPads in the class are becoming more exciting to me over the past few months revealing to me their true worth.

Towards the end of the semester we took a break from video lectures to use one of our textbook companies free apps. There has been a lot of talk around digital textbooks and if the iPad is great at anything it is great at delivering interactive text, images, video etc.

Our goal was 1) to see the app functioned 2) to see how students reacted to using the app and 3) see if it can be used independently for students to gain understanding - in other words we again gave them a roadmap and said we'll help you along the way but meet you at the end.

The app was essentially the textbook and its online resource that were made for the iPad, i.e. all the flash content on the website was made into a viewable interactive format for the iPad. So in a sense it was like handing the students the text book and saying read for comprehension. This was actually quite disturbing how many students struggled with this.

Overall kids did fine, not great, but not horrible either (except for a few). Given more chapters perhaps students would become accustomed to this learning method and do real well with it, they would use all the features, and better understand the layout and navigation. But it caused me to wonder at $8.33 /year/kid (more costly than a $7.99/yr Mathflix subscription) could teachers create the same dynamic, interactive, iPad supported environment for less? After all we have been tailoring their videos to fit their needs, writing online quizzes that provide instant feedback, and supplying homework solutions to guide their work- all equivalent features of the app.

My answer to this question and others was answered by Apple in their release of iBooks2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U app. I can't begin to explain how incredibly exciting these pieces are to education. I have to believe that this opens up incredible possibilities for the iPad in education, teachers as authors, and students becoming mastery learners.

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