Teacher and educator reactions to Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U

Teacher and educator reactions to Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U

At Apple's education event they announced two initiatives: iBooks 2 and iBooks Author designed to bring textbooks into the digital age, and an all new iTunes U to create and share lesson plans, and follow and complete course work. As education initiatives from publicly traded companies go, they're big and bold -- but they're also just the beginning. There will be struggles and successes, breakthroughs and missteps. And while many of us here at iMore and Mobile Nations could speak about the implications from purely technical and business standpoints, we're lucky to have several teachers and educators, past and present, on staff. They were kind enough to share their thoughts on Apple's new initiatives, specifically and importantly where they impact most -- our kids in the classroom.

Seth Clifford

Apple's move to advance our shamefully archaic system was met with a lot of debate on Thursday morning. On one side, we heard from utopian education advocates (myself included to some degree), extolling the virtues of a centralized e-textbook platform, and Apple's commitment to engaging our youth. On the other hand, I had a few spirited conversations with those who feel that by making great educational opportunities "expensive" (meaning only upper-class schools may even be able to apply these new techniques, leaving inner-city and less-privileged districts behind) Apple has driven a wedge between the haves and the have-nots, making education less democratized and less accessible to all. Personally I feel that both sides have points, but quite honestly, nothing is fair. Education has, in the past decades, grown more and more to be the bastard child of the federal budget, despite the headline-grabbing initiatives that get introduced to fanfare and few results. Kids are taught only to pass tests, so that funding can be applied to districts who have "earned" it. Kids are getting the short end of every stick they see in school, and nothing is changing. And what if Apple's entire move here is not about changing the entire education system, which it most likely understands is irreparably flawed, but rather to disintermediate education the way it did carrier control with the mobile market? What if Apple's ultimate play (with products like iBooks Author) is to put education back in the hands of students (and the actual individuals they interact with on a daily basis), obviating the need for a bloated, antiquated system in much the same way that it saw the carriers as a necessary evil in bringing iOS to the hands of users?

Certainly not every district is hopelessly broken, and not every kid's education suffers at the hands of an ever-shrinking budget. Children who seek out learning will always learn, and those who do not will make their way in the world. It has happened for years and will always be the case, no matter what costs we apply. Apple's attempt to shake up a system so mired in early 20th century standards is merely a shot across the bow of a huge vessel that's been in motion for as long as any of us can remember. It will not be panacea to all the ills of our society, nor should people expect Apple to fix every problem. Apple is a business; they exist to make money and sell merchandise. Those who are decrying its attempts to make learning better are missing the bigger picture. Should we all shun this advance because only rich kids might get a chance to use it at first? Education needs disruption, and all it takes is a cursory look at the developing countries of the world to know that mobile computing is the future for our society. Not everyone will get an iPad or an iPhone, but at some point, everyone will be exposed to learning in a better, mobile capacity, and we'll have Apple to thank for jumpstarting the efforts of those who would sit idly and let our children continue on the endless march to mediocrity.

Seth worked for five years as a computer instructor in a public middle school (grades 6-8), for six years with kids with autism, and was a member of district-wide technology planning committees.

Alli Flowers

All that was missing was the old tagline - this changes everything. Again. In a way it does. But before I explain why I think it might, I must explain why it won't - at least not yet. So I must begin by stating that I take exception with Phil Shiller's comment at the beginning of his presentation when he stated that iPad is, amongst other things, affordable. In today's economy, $500 is just not what I would define as affordable. This thought will temper what follows.

Instead of bridging the digital divide, programs like Apple’s will only serve to deepen the chasm. Is a $15 textbook a great deal? Heck yea! The text I’m supposed to teach from costs $65, and that doesn’t include the workbook. But we hold onto our textbooks for seven years or more. Our school system (the largest in the state), can’t afford to purchase new texts for each subject at the recommended five year increments. Could we afford to purchase iPads for each student instead? It’s doubtful. Besides, even though you would then be looking at a tremendous discount for the textbook (and workbooks would be rolled right into the new format, right?), that’s still a lot of money.

Some of the concerns I’ve often heard about providing all students with iPads include the fear that student iPads will be stolen. I don’t believe this is as big a deal as other factors - if everyone has one, there will be no one left wanting one. The bigger concern is how children take care of their belongings. Most of my students have broken their cell phones at least once. How would we take care of broken iPads? Would we need to spend twice as much as what is needed to cover the student body so that when someone does break (or misplace) his iPad, we can replace it, like we do with a textbook? Can we demand that a family pay to have a $500 iPad replaced, when they can’t currently afford a $65 lost textbook fine?

But I rant. I love the very concept of iBooks Author. The potential here is limitless. For those of us who already prefer using custom content, the possibilities here are limitless. I have not used a textbook this year, and my students haven’t minded at all. I prefer providing them with small lessons and activities on the Smartboard so that they remain engaged, but aren’t overwhelmed. Would I like to give each of my students my custom designed text with practice activities? Heck yea! Do I see it happening any time soon? Probably not. On the other hand, I have an iPad and I can still use this valuable tool. There is no reason I can’t share the screen of my iPad with my students by connecting my iPad to my Smartboard either through an HDMI connection, or by placing the iPad under a document camera. Do I really want all my students touching my personal iPad? Not really. They are not concerned enough with the well being of other people’s property. And if you’re merely showing students the screen of an iPad, you may as well be showing them a traditional textbook. If they’re not the ones using it, the point of it being interactive is lost.

Ahhhhh...interactive textbooks. Again, the concept is brilliant. To have all my videos and exercises (with instant feedback!) in one place is a dream. But it’s a dream for a teacher. I have been lucky enough to both teach and facilitate several distance learning classes over the last three years. Distance classes can be great, and they do what Apple is proposing, but on a computer via a website. The biggest downside is the required Internet connection. The difference in our online course offerings, and the interactive texts presented yesterday by Roger Rosner is small. Each course is packed with links to videos, java games, and Flash activities (that will, no doubt, be replaced by HTML5 activities). Are the students more engaged with the material presented in their online classes? The average student is not. And the below average student simply needs a teacher to fill him with the information one to one. Just yesterday I had a student ask if he had to watch the whole video - referring to a 6 minute video presenting the Industrial Revolution. Really? I cannot believe that students will be more engaged watching a video on the iPad than on a laptop. And digital content won’t be changing for a while.

As a secondary teacher, I cannot speak to iTunes U. However, I have used it for my own professional development several times and love it. I will definitely be using it more often as a stand alone app.

In summary, yes, I love the basic concept of all Apple is doing for education. However, by making it all Apple centered, they are restricting America’s promise of a free and accessible education. The privileged will get Apple products and a better education, and those who can most benefit from a good education will be left out.

Alli is a high school teacher.

Leanna Lofte

I'll admit that the Apple Education Event has left me feeling a little giddy inside. As an educator, interactive textbooks on the iPad, iTunes U on the iPhone and iPad, and iBooks Author all make me very excited.

I've spent a little time in a few textbooks in iBooks and I have been nothing short of impressed. When talk of these interactive textbooks first began to surface, I was concerned that they may not run very well and be a little laggy, but boy was I wrong! Content? Fantabulously engaging! Obviously the text hasn't changed, but textbooks filled with multimedia such as slideshows, videos, 3D diagrams, and quizzes - definitely a game changer.

I teach at a small community college and will be doing everything in my power to get those in charge on board with iTunes U. I am planning to use a website for my courses this semester to post course documents and videos, but iTunes U does it much better than I could on my measly little website.

Last, but definitely not least, I am very excited about iBooks Author. One of my not-so-little lifetime goals is to write a Calculus textbook (yep, I'm that crazy), and iBook Author gives me some hope of actually achieving this goal. I've only spent a little time with the app, but have been able to do so much with it. I plan to actually start writing some mini books to have available for free as supplementary material for my courses. I have a real passion for teaching, and iBooks Author will help me be the better teacher I strive to be.

I know, I sound like a raging fangirl right now, but I truly am excited about all this news. Is it perfect? No. iPads filled with textbooks may not be in the classrooms tomorrow, but the first step to making that a reality has happened. Good job, Apple.

I'm also starting to believe those rumors of low-budget iPads may not be that farfetched after all...

Leanna teaches math at a California college.

Keith Newman

I've been a teacher for 12 years now, and I remember having a hokey tablet PC hooked up to a projector 10 years ago. Apple's move towards the educational experience is breathtaking. I love what I am seeing and feel that the impact of such tools in the classroom is probably what education needs at the moment (besides parents who actually care, but that's a whole other article). Motivation in the classroom is possible with old-school means but let's be honest, retention is at it's all time lowest for this generation. Apple is attempting to speak the "student language" in the classroom for the first time I can remember. It's nice... it's refreshing... it's not going to work.

I'm not trying to be negative, but these tools in the classroom need SERIOUS monitoring. Remote Desktop is a must for me when I have kids in a Lab or have a computer cart; otherwise, it's Twitter and ESPN videos all period long. As of now, there isn't this type of software to overlook iPad carts. It's one thing for a student to not be on the correct page and goof off, that happens everywhere; now we are giving the entire class, whom the majority are doing the right thing, a tool to entice them to not be on the right page.

Cost is also a factor. Yes, I know we aren't getting free iPads. Districts will have to spend that money upfront to save money on the back end. I understand. However... iPads get lost. They get stolen. They get broke. Each one costs the district $500 to replace. Students in my poor, urban school district do not have the money to replace an $80 textbook let alone an iPad.

I want to see this happen. I really do. But realistically it won't happen with Apple prouducts. Their devices have way too much of a markup for this to be economically fesible in an urban school district (that is already in a financial crisis of $629 million dollars). I do see this happening realistically with an OLPC tablet that's not as swanky as Apple's but is far more accessible.

Keith is a high school teacher.

Chris Vitek

As an educator, I am really excited about the potential that eBooks have, along with the interactive potential of having textbooks on an iPad. I am happy that Apple has decided to push the envelope, and I am eager to see college textbooks publishers join in the effort. It looks like Apple has really tried to make the textbooks as interactive, engaging, and as learner-centered as possible, but a lot will depend on how strongly publishers pursue this. While I think there are some hurdles to overcome, I hope that with Apple pushing publishers and authors along it will only get better. I have seen some publisher's attempts at interactive eBooks, and for the most part, they have been disappointing. If publishers and textbook authors can really use the tools Apple has provided, then I think that eBooks may be the future of textbooks. One thing that would be great to see is a teacher's version of the book, that would enable teachers to incorporate the material into teaching lessons (such as putting material in a PowerPoint or Keynote slide).

With iTunes U (which I am sad to say I have never really looked at) it looks like Apple is trying to steal business from Blackboard. I will admit that I have doubts about online learning (I am a little old-school and feel that classroom interaction is an important part of learning). I do use online features to supplement a course, however, and will certainly take a look at iTunes U. I wonder if it can be integrated with school systems so that only registered students can get access to the course (I know our administration won't want to offer all our courses online for free). But it looks like a promising option for online courses and for some course content.

Chris is an assistant professor at a Texas university.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Teacher and educator reactions to Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U


I agree with points from all of you guys. Device costs are way too high to reach the masses, although rumors of a $200-$250 iPad 2 post-iPad 3 launch would help, but the possibilities here are insane. It makes you want to be a student again. Engaging content is far more memorable than stale words on a page. The future is bright.
On the downside, Apple needs to loosen their licensing grip. It is similar to the App Store policy drama we once had. If they truly were about improving education, I'd expect them not to be so hardcore with the policies that requires they be in the loop.

So I recently started my MBA. I was dead set on only using my iPad. Three of my five books were available via Kindle. I bought the other two used. I then literally took those two out to the garage, used a band saw to cut the spine and scanned them in at work (this took maybe an hour- tops).
With Dropbox, blackboard, kindle and gmail, I don't carry paper to class really. My marketing prof will not allow the use of computers in her class (which will be interesting as we start to cover social media). I take a few notes on paper and shoot them with my iPhone (until I get an iPad 3!) into Dropbox and recycle the paper on my way out of class.
Yes, geeky as hell. I know. But for years now, when I'm at work, I don't deal with paper handouts, notebook paper and the like. So why on earth would I want to be prepped for business awesomeness in a school that does everything the way it USED to be, not the way it is (for the geeky) and certainly not the way it WILL be? For myself, I'm content to create my own digital reality and apply it to my education. But what about for someone much younger?
This is what disturbs me most about the iBooks issue. The polarization is generates reinforces the misaligned goals of the education system. Now, when I have kids, I can walk in to a school and simply observe their real agenda. Are they using paper or electronic pad for most things junior-high on up? Should I be content to let my kids have a sub-par education to keep things 'fair'?
I was fortunate that my grade school had computers (Apple IIs were brand new- did I mention I'm old? ;) ). I've never struggled with a digital divide. Heck, I created it! Here we are 30 years later and we think a paper system will somehow prepare us for Globalization 3.0? Not likely. And I, for one, won't be supporting any system that thinks this is OK. Hopefully there will be enough of us doing this for real change to happen.

Closed is not good.
I will give you an example.
The grants.gov website is a federal government website used by professors at u.s.a. universities to apply for study grants.
yea cloud computing
Except the applicants must use internet explorer to access the website. Safari doesn't work. And I.e. doesn't run on the mac.
So yeah; closed is bad

Apple has great ideas and this is one more that is guaranteed to revolutionize the publishing industry. It's also guaranteed to make it easy for teachers and students to publish. There are other publishing options and one I like very well is Lulu.com. I have my class of 7th graders working on the publication of a book of their own as a keepsake of our class. Their choice of a closed market for their books is going to hurt them and consumers in the long run. People like choices and only being able to read books on an iDevice is limiting. Open formats like ePub that can be read on a variety of devices including iDevices is a better model, but for now Apple has stimulated interest in an important market segment.

I agree mostly with Alli. The concept is good but executing it may be nearly impossible. Keep in mind, this is high school we heard about. College textbooks are a different animal. These could be great tools in a 6-12 setting. I just don't see the majority changing their systems. You'd have to retrain most teachers who (believe it or not) are that technically inclined. The admin live in the stone ages (usually) and are resistant to change. iPads or whatever mobile computing turns into will have to be much more mainstream IMO.
Alli mentioned a smartboard. There's many classrooms that still can't afford these.
That in mind, i have to say i'm not seeing how these are better (for college). Frankly, I wouldn't have time to watch the videos and play interaction games with my textbook. I read it, study it, maybe take some notes and a quiz and then i'm done. You're taking 12-16 college hours plus interning or working hopefully, there's no time for all the gee whiz features.
My profession is business and accounting in particular. I got an MBA about a decade ago along with a CPA. But you need computer experience. Not ipad experience. You NEED to know Office. You need to know stats. You need to know windows or similar inside and out.
Get a laptop.

While Apple appears to have done a decent job with the software and that $15 max price on textbooks should hopefully really mix things up, it seems like they are trying to control things too much.
I generally don't mind it when Apple exerts their control within their ecosystem as they are perfectly entitled to and it usually leads to tighter integration and a smoother experience, but they shouldn't be forcing their ecosystem on to those that don't want it. In this case it seems that this is exactly what they are trying to do, in order to increase the popularity of the iPad etc, but ironically I think their excessive control will hinder adoption.
The fundamental problem with what Apple is trying to do is that in something so diverse as the education system they cannot possibly expect everyone to adopt Apple hardware. Even in a single school, unless the school mandates it and/or somehow finds funds to pay for it, it will be hard to get an entire class on iPads.
But that isn't to say it couldn't work. If Apple was truly interested in helping education then they would do 3 things:
1) Make the iBooks Textbook format an open and royalty-free format
2) Allow content publishers to sell the books via other methods and allow the same content in other formats
3) Make an Apple-hosted web version of the iTunes U app that is also free, which only requires a modern browser to use and a free Apple iTunes account.
If they did that I think they would see massive adoption of the formats and iTunes U. Not everyone would get an iPad because they wouldn't need to, but the enhanced integration would still be a motivation for a lot of people to do so.

That 15 max on textbooks isn't that great of a deal. Schools will still pay the same if not more for textbooks versus what they're paying now.
Instead of the middlemen, Apple gets a cut. Apple can only get a cut if they demand the ibooks store be used. Indeed, they're making the tools possible and available. I don't have a problem with this.
If i'm a school district, i wait and see what amazon and others do as well as for mobile tech to get more mainstream. Wouldn't you want tablets made for schools (and cheaper) like the Kindle Fire is made for Amazon? But so far, i'd see no reason to want in on this yet. I might however start changing things (such as training, ed requirements for teachers, etc) for a future transition.

If they can make an iPad that has a plastic tactile screen, no camera, and access to only Safari (WiFi only through school router), notes, iBooks, and (passwrod protected by an admin) Settings, and maybe messaging then I can see using these in a school, as they would conceivably be a) cheaper b) less of a distraction to the students c) easier to maintain.
The school could control the websites students are allowed to visit on safari through their router, and without the capability to purchase apps or play games, they won't have the same distractions. No camera as there's no need for it (and I know many businesses that would use it too without a camera).
At that, a stiripped down version would be less expensive to manufacture and purchase in these days of shrinking budgets, and as someone said about theft, no need to steel it as it's not as good as the other ones.
I do love the idea of having something that weighs less than a pound than carrying around 10lbs of books in a backpack every day.

Apple's approach to textbooks is one that only helps those with means. Alli's responses is the most coherent and thoughtful, and i give it at least a bit of weight because unlike two of the others she teaches high school where as two of the others are teaching adults in college. At college it's expected that people buy books. At college they are free to go get a job. That's not the case for high schools in much of the country (in the U.S.) and especially poor neighborhoods where there aren't jobs for adults let alone kids.
Sorry, But Leana and Chris are teaching at colleges. Not exactly L.A. Unified School District facing poverty, violence, lack of opportunity and most importantly money. I respect their points but we aren't talking about places that resemble the schools in inner cities. And Seth's comments strike me as crass and defeatist, stating "Nothing is fair"; the schools are "irreparably flawed" and "nothing changes." Saying "nothing's fair" is not an excuse for providing unequal service based on income. The current state of unfairness is not an excuse to continue to behave unfairly. "Nothing's fair" is just a bad catch phrase, an excues, it's surely not a solution, and its bad public policy. But clearly when one thinks things are irreparable they it provides a great excuse for being unfair. You can just give up because it can't be fixed.
Moving on to the service, this Apple plan presents several problems that make it problematic for all but the rich and rich schools districts.
The entire cost of these services is a massive hurdle to cash strapped citizens. This system seems to require a new book every class or class year for every student. But in reality physical textbooks are used for as much as 7 or 8 years. They are rarely changed every year. A math book that is ten years old is still relevant today. 10 x 10 still yields the same answer. So a $15 per child fee for a book every year is unrealistic and not accessible for many schools.
Kids will need to take the books home to do their homework which presents many problem. It opens up a fragile electronic device to theft, abuse, breakage, misuse, hacking. The school would have to support the devices. That means hiring it people to make sure the proper software is on their and up to date, to make sure the are not jailbreakable, to repair broken devices, To update ios, To ensure proper parental controls are on their to prevent certain types of content you don't want kinds under 17 to have free access to. Your talking about schools often with almost no IT budget and few people in these roles. Especially if the school lacks computers at all. So in a world where nobody wants to pay for education who will pay for the added staff and for damaged or stolen devices? But the cost of replacing ipads that will inevitably be damage because kids break stuff will surely be a huge hurdle to cash strapped schools. And honestly are you going to realistically entrust someone that is 7, 8, 9, 10 years old with an ipad to carry on their own? They are bound to break that and they aren't responsible enough to care for it w/o supervision for a whole school year.
Apple will in essence have a lot of control over what content students have access to as if it they don't like it they can ban it from their store. Personally i'm not sure why they'd ban anything but when i was in college one class about the rise of the Nazis had Mein Kamphf as an assigned text. Would that be banned? I could see it getting people calling for a ban but when i was in school nobody batted an eye that it was on the bookstore shelf.
There are other hurdles. Apple's ibooks authoring software is apple only so if you're a publisher on windows systems you're out of luck with that tool.
One of the craziest things is Apple's EULA which says that if you offer a product for a fee then you can only sell it at the apple store. That's crazy. Who publishes book and can only sell it in one store? That's a significant deterrent to text book publishers, at least in the outset where the userbase may not be big enough to make the effort financially worthwhile.
Apple's EULA reads: "if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or
service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution."
That is quite restrictive.
Sorry, But Leana and Chris are college professors. Not exactly L.A. Unified School District. We aren't talking about places that resemble the schools in inner cities. And Seth's comments strike me as crass and defeatist, stating "Nothing is fair"; the schools are "irreparably flawed" and "nothing changes." Saying "nothing's fair" is not an excuse for providing unequal service or service based on income. It's just a bad catch phrase. And it's surely not a solution. But clearly when one thinks things are irreparable they it provides a great excuse for being unfair. You can just give up.

darn new commenting system! i forgot to delete the last paragraph. after i cut and pasted it higher in the text. oh well.
for the record i like the idea of electronic text books just in reality i think the approach is flawed.

You're right on the money as far as the difference between college and high school. I actually had more than a paragraph about that, but cut it since I was already dangerously close to falling off my soapbox. Anyhow....you pay to go to college. Most colleges and universities either require a laptop, or provide one as part of tuition. They can do that. But federal law says public education (read K-12) is to be free, accessible, and compulsory. We can't even ask students to provide their own books. And some of our students can't even provide pencils or paper.
It all just deepens the digital divide. (I just love that term.)

As you can see i have little problem falling off my soapbox. lol. Or being long winded. But i write a lot. Can't help it. That said i didn't intend to preach but rather flush out some points. Because, the education challenges are broad and complex and can vary from state to state or city to city.
I'm not against apple's digital books. I just think there are very big practical hurdles that prevent it from being something as game changing as itunes. It's more of a supplement to educational tools.

I do not see where this sense of being fair is relevant. Not withstanding the "life is not fair" we can not say that all schools are equal at present. Not only is there a difference in quality overt the vast amounts of public schools there is the so called divide when you look at high quality private schools. I don't think providing an additional advantage to those who can get it should be restricted just on the pretense of leaving others behind, or as it can be put, why should some not get the best chance they can by the use of new technology just because others can not afford it?
On the cost side it is way to soon to accurately say what can and can not be done, there are many ways to skin a cat and no doubt many schools and districts will take a different approach to deployment of tablet computers to students. Let's not forget there also will be a small amount of kids who's families will have give their child their own, of course this is more than likely an example of the upper income families. Yes, this brings in to consideration a new dynamic on cost, responsibility and process with technology and education.
I do see this as first being a rollout to the faculty, schools may not be able to get an iPad into the hands of every student but they should be able to get one to teachers who then will at least have a better tool at hand. As stated, this is the beginning, we may see small and select rollouts but as we move forward it can only be that some day mobile technology will be the replacement for the traditional text book.

I don't see anyone advocating "restricting" this. I surely didn't. I don't see anyone saying ban this product. The point was it's not an improvement because it's not feasible. If Job's goal is to help improve the education system as is mentioned in his biography i don't think this does. As it helps those that don't need help while skirting access to those that do.

This alone won't. But it kickstarts things in motion. This won't happen overnight and it definitely won't be apple alone. Others will chime in.

The feedback from the staff is great .... I've received some of the same feedback from folks in my family that are educators .... BUT, you've left out 30-40% of the target audience from any part of your discussions .. Folks in their 30-70's are a HUGE MARKET OPPORTUNITY for this kind of tool. Given the current job market dilemma worldwide, the extreme costs of trying to go back to a physical school for new study, re-education, expanded learning, learning COMPLETLY new skills, career change scenarios, learning for the fun of it, curiosity, and more make the availability of this type of virtual study remarkable. I've already found multiple series of lectures, classes, reading materials, text books and enough other 'stuff' to keep me busy for years! I've already signed up and attended (virtually) talks on subjects that I've enjoyed for years.
Don't discount this market... Ignore us at your own peril and our dollars going somewhere else !

i surely don't discount that market. in fact i think it's much more suited of them as they have income. Things like continuing education services, online course work could use these tools. Standardized test prep materials. At a lower level of education i think it faces massive hurdles.

It's good to see opinions from people of different education backgrounds, but I think the biggest issue has yet to be addressed. Digital textbooks (much like the CD-ROMs of the late 90s) are a step sideways, not a step forward. It's time we move away from textbooks, digital or not. Let's ask our students to use their screens to investigate, create, and collaborate instead of just consuming.

Children require a whole lot of consumption before they own enough to use for collaboration or creation. And is investigation not consumption? How are you going to investigate? Is asking your teacher how a verb works investigating? You can't just throw away the learning process.

No, you can't just throw away the learning process. However, teachers can create and locate text, video, interactive, and primary source materials for students, making it easier to differentiate instruction. With a wealth of online resources at a teacher's disposal, choosing the material that best fits the needs of each student is easier than ever, without the need for a mandated textbook. How is a textbook publisher going to make learning meaningful for each and everyone of my students on an individual level?

I agree with some and disagree with others, what Apple is simply doing is bringing a more engaging experience to education. If I had a more interactive way of studying in my time I would have remembered more, but we are so use to doing things the old fashioned way that we are scared of something new..
I believe Apple is setting a precedence that should have been in affect ages ago, we can all agree that students of the 21st century need more advanced stimulation than in the old days so to study with a device is the key to getting them engaged in learning.
Give the time it will become cheaper more accessible and more effective at the moment not all can afford it but soon most will, no one is forcing you to use it if you can't afford it. I live in South Africa and poverty that will make 1st world countries poor look like middle class is all around me, but yet Africa has more mobile phone users than the whole of Europe... wasn't it an expensive luxury item a few years back ??
Food for thought: If we also said no the model T Ford because it's to expensive and not all can afford it, would we have had cars, busses or planes today... Progress takes time and time leads to innovation, lets not stand in its way with pessimism.

A great summary of early Ford V8 history. My father a Ford career man never spoke against anything Ford with 1- exception the 60hp V8.He said: "It wouldn't pull your hat off."

YEs, I understand that, but it is not just about experience, but also about usability. And as a user I WANT to be able to switch between the designs you made for that site. Because when I am used to looking at a site on one device I may actually like to zoom in on another. You (the designer) should not make that choice for me.