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School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the there-goes-the-tech-budget dept.

Education 439

MexiCali59 writes "Four of California's largest school districts will be trying something new on eighth-grade algebra students this year: giving them iPads instead of textbooks. The devices come pre-loaded with a digital version of the text, allowing students to view teaching videos, receive homework assistance and input assignment all without picking up a pen or paper. If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."

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In unrelated news... (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513452)

Apple announces free iPad program for school administrators in California.

Expensive (5, Insightful)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513456)

California is in the middle of a hiring freeze for the State, and a huge deficit. Where exactly are they getting the money for these iPad projects for these districts, let alone for the rest of the State if they decide to advance it?

Re:Expensive (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513462)

Because California, like the rest of the USA is immune to the laws of economics!

Re:Expensive (2, Interesting)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513612)

Same as here in NY. School districts are bitching about the state withholding funds. In reality, they waste money on unnecessary crap like in TFA. To make the bitching even more egregious, most districts have plenty of money saved in "rainy day" type funds to cover budgets shortfalls.

Re:Expensive (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513694)

Well, dire financial straits should be allowed to affect taxpayers and other areas of state and local budgets, but damned if the big-spending boards should have to worry about getting paid.

Re:Expensive (2, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513902)

Same as here in NY. School districts are bitching about the state withholding funds. In reality, they waste money on unnecessary crap like in TFA.

For a lot of places the "tech" funds are independent of their general budget. As you are likely aware you generally do not replace computers every year; however, if on the years you don't replace equipment you don't spend your tech money then you lose it for when you do need to buy new equipment.

To make the bitching even more egregious, most districts have plenty of money saved in "rainy day" type funds to cover budgets shortfalls.

Those funds are reserved for temporary budget shortfalls (such as an unexpected drop in enrollment for a year), they cannot handle a sustained loss of funding. Also, many places will ratchet your funding to your worst year - so even if budgetary conditions improve for the next year you won't get your budget back.

Re:Expensive (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513994)

The logic of the bureaucracy is simply lunacy.

"Why are you blowing your full budget?"

"I do not want to have my budget cut for next year."

"But you didn't need it all this year."

"Yeah, but I want more next year."

That's what is happening in every government agency. If the idiots in charge were not all collectively doing this, then, for starters, there would be a rainy day fund when they really needed it. Agencies would actually be able to request bigger budgets when they really needed it, and, this is crazy, we'd actually have money to give them.

It should be criminal to blow a budget simply to try and get the same amount or more for the next budget cycle.

Re:Expensive (3, Funny)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513950)

Better teacher lounges are not a waste of money in the school's teacher's minds.

Re:Expensive (1, Troll)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513636)

Because the USA, unlike the rest of the world, is immune to the idea that investing in education and infrastructure yields tangible benefits for society!

Re:Expensive (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513748)

But it doesn't. You can't just throw money at a problem and find a solution, in fact the most worthwhile solutions are the ones that cost the least. The US government has no problems tossing money in education/infrastructure but its all worthless because they are simply redistributing wealth that is more efficiently done in the private sector. Consider a private school, barring some of the weird religious schools which specialize in fascism and indoctrination, private schools are in general better because they don't get the money thrown at them every which way. Yeah, private schools are expensive, but add in how many -millions- of dollars go to public schools that don't perform. Why is it that almost every single privately educated student is better educated than a public school educated student despite massive redistribution of wealth? With a private school, they have to make every dollar count. A private school can't just ask voters for an extra million, they can't take money from people who don't use the service like public schools can. Yet they have a higher quality.

Governments breed waste, inefficiency and tyranny and can never lead to a net gain for society when compared to a private institution.

Re:Expensive (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513978)

With a private school, they have to make every dollar count.

But they don't have to take every student who shows up. And it's not just the schools but also the parents who have an interest in making every dollar count, and it's the parents who can have the biggest impact on a student's success. Sorry, but this isn't as simple as you make it out to be.

Re:Expensive (3, Informative)

natespizer (1362373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514008)

One important fact is that if a parent is paying for the education there is a good chance they will be more invested in making sure their student does a good job rather than just blaming everything on the teacher or school. You will get much more parent participation in event and activities and in most cases it is mandatory.

Re:Expensive (-1, Troll)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514054)

They didn't just throw money. They bought an electronic device that proved to be much more effective than what they replaced. That's an investment with an ROI. They should expand this and replace all paper textbooks with electronic books loaded on one device. Easier to carry and easier an cheaper to keep up to date. Plus, as in the article, you can provide much more effective content than plain (out of date) text. If anything this should allow you to be equally effective with fewer teachers and administrators. If should save money.

Note that these benefits are specific to devices like the iPad and not PCs. PCs are much more expensive, delicate and difficult to set up, maintain and use. They are more prone to obsolescence. That's why computer-based teaching/earning has not expanded as rapidly as once was hoped. It was an expensive waste, but technology has improved and we are finally getting the right kinds of devices.

Not all expenditures are a waste of money. Not all are throwing money away. Otherwise you'd close all the schools, quit maintaining roads and other infrastructure and stay home. That would save a lot of money by your logic. Smart businesses know that cannot cut your way to profitability or growth.

Re:Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33514082)

Little good it does them (USA), for all the money they spend.

Re:Expensive (2, Insightful)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513498)

If you have lived there, you would know that trivial things like deficits are to looked down upon with disdain..... Think of the Children!!!!!

Re:Expensive (1)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513598)

Worse than living there, I've worked for the State as an intern . laid off twice, ftw.

Re:Expensive (1)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513664)

No...Think of the environment!!! No costs must be spared to save the dozen or so trees that would have otherwise be converted into textbooks.

Re:Expensive (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513716)

I want to know how the spotted owl and the delta smelt will be affected.

Re:Expensive (4, Interesting)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513568)

Between the cost of a textbook and the rate at which they become 'obsolete' for the state testing I'd imagine with an educational discount from Apple (no need to make the state pay taxes to itself and can prolly write off some of it as a donation) they probably aren't whole lot more expensive than your regular schoolbook in the long run. Course I'd be interested in knowing what the policy is for broken iPads. Do the kid's parents have to shell out the money for a new iPad? you would for a replacement book.

Re:Expensive (3, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513744)

Collegiate textbooks cost around $100, and most high schools are re-using books for 4-5 years (or, these days, stretching them out even longer). I highly doubt this is a cost savings.

(as if any new government program ever results in cost savings anyway)

Re:Expensive (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513924)

Collegiate textbooks cost around $100

...And you need a separate one for each class you're in.

Re:Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513988)

...and the digital ones aren't free. I seem to recall they cost about the same as the paper version. So this really is just an extra 500 dollar fee on top of the already expensive books.

Re:Expensive (5, Informative)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513762)

Between the cost of a textbook and the rate at which they become 'obsolete' for the state testing...

Are you asserting that books last less than three years? Because I'm relatively certain that there will be nearly no usable iPads in that same amount of time. They're simply not designed to outlive their replacement models.

Re:Expensive (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513954)

There's been only 1 iPad out, what are you basing this assertion on?

Re:Expensive (3, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514028)

Years and years of experience with consumer electronics.

Or is the iPad made of magical pixie dust and will therefore not be subject to industry norms? I can see Jobs now, "Profit be damned! There will be only one iPad, and no one will ever want to upgrade it, EVER!"

Yeah, no.

Re:Expensive (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514048)

I feel like the jury is probably still out on the average lifespan of an iPad, but what I'm wondering is if the schools see this as a way to always pass the cost of a replacement on to a student. iPad breaks because it's just plain old? Well, your kid must have broken it, it was working when we gave it to him, so you'll have to pay for the new one! Now all the school has to pay for is updates to the online textbooks.

Re:Expensive (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513944)

Well, someone still has to buy the textbook content (and other software) to put on the iPad. I'm not sure the expected lifespan for an iPad, but I'd argue that textbooks are more durable in the face of handling by a highschool (or younger) student who doesn't own it. Also consider that Apple designs its products to be used for a certain duration and then discarded (so you'll buy the new one).

The concept may have merit if the software adds value above and beyond what you get from a textbook. I cannot see it being cheaper than textbooks unless/until it can replace multiple textbooks for a given grade.

Re:Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513964)

As in the past, I'm sure Apple is giving them away to schools for free in the hopes of creating future consumers of their overpriced Steve Jobs thought controlled products. Just like cigarette companies using cartoon logos and candy cigarettes to try to create a new generation of smokers.

Schwarzenegger's ebook program (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513572)

Maybe it has something to do with this [guardian.co.uk] ?

Personally, the idea of an impersonal video showing boring math material would be even worse than have an instructor do it, but perhaps this will allow the more "advanced" students to go at their own pace.

I did attend an "open classroom" for several years and in one of those years, I was allowed to race ahead and finished the english and math curriculum several months ahead of schedule so I could spend more time on that wonderful TI-99 4A [wikipedia.org] hooked up to the beautiful color monitor.

I don't think the iPad based curriculum will work for every child.

Re:Schwarzenegger's ebook program (0, Flamebait)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514024)

iPads are great and all, but the fact is, any cheap generic tablet or netbook can access khanacademy.org [khanacademy.org] . That's all a motivated kid needs to learn almost anything in the STEM areas.

If I were a traditional textbook publisher I'd like to think I'd be smart enough to use my last $50 to put out a hit on that guy...

Not necessarily expensive (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513618)

Done right, this could make economic sense. Textbook prices have been rising far faster than inflation [back2schoolmoms.com] , nearly doubling in 20 years. Some math textbooks can cost over $100. Even assuming they cost only $50, an electronic device at a cost 10 textbooks, but which does much more and can be easily updated, could be a bargain. (In theory, that is. I'm assuming the school district plans well and the kids don't trash them.)

Its a pilot program, an experiment, it might work (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513624)

California is in the middle of a hiring freeze for the State, and a huge deficit. Where exactly are they getting the money for these iPad projects for these districts, let alone for the rest of the State if they decide to advance it?

This is a pilot program, Houghton Mifflin and/or Apple are probably subsidizing it.

A pilot program is designed to measure the effectiveness of the device and the costs. It is plausible that a reusable digital device loaded with numerous textbooks could be less expensive than the corresponding set of paper textbooks. Also keep in mind that today's $500 iPad will probably be around $250 in a couple of years. and those are retail prices not educational institution prices.

Re:Cheaper would be.... (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513970)

Much as I dislike them, why not a Kindle loaded with text books. That would be much much less than iPads and less likely to be used for other purposes (like watching YouTube during class).

Re:Cheaper would be.... (2, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514070)

Much as I dislike them, why not a Kindle loaded with text books. That would be much much less than iPads and less likely to be used for other purposes (like watching YouTube during class).

1. Color is extensively used in modern textbooks.
2. Textbooks are incorporating more software and multimedia.

I had the opportunity to work with a textbook publisher regarding the software bundled with a chemistry textbook. This software included chemical diagramming (2D - for reports and such) and 3D model building and visualization. We also had a few movies illustrating some basic principles. All of this could easily be done on an iPad and be bundled with the textbook. Not so for today's Kindle. I hope future Kindle's offer color and touch to make such things feasible.

Re:Cheaper would be.... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514084)

You want them to be useful for the other tasks, though. The revolution in education will not come from simply digitizing the old ways of educating, it will come from using computers to do things you couldn't do without them. Kindles won't permit that.

In fact, the studious inability for the education world to realize this and act on it is a significant part of the reason why they disgust me so.

Re:Expensive (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513626)

From the money they hope to save in providing books on the long term I guess. At $50-150 (or more once you get to college) per book these costs really add up. I believe the current average textbook expenses in the US is somewhere near $1000/student/year and you have to take into account that in that number, many rent or buy second hand books and many more simply can't afford the books (like in my city school district where nobody has textbooks). Add to that the gigantic logistics cost of tons (literally) of books that have to be printed, transported, distributed and at the end of the year picked up, transported and recycled (as they are usually useless the next year).

Hopefully they haven't locked themselves in again with certain publishers so teachers can just go ahead and give them a link from Apple's or Amazon's e-book store ($5-15 for a decent math book).

Re:Expensive (1)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514088)

there are very few high school text books which are useless the next year.

in fact, per the local school district, they EXPECT to get at least 5 years per textbook of life span.

some are even longer.

and per the article, this is for a GRADE 8 CLASS. Meaning these aren't even high school students in most districts.

Re:Expensive (1)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513632)

Isn't it obvious? The money will come from the parents who have so much spare cash to throw around. Supporting a family in this economy practically pays for itself, right?

Re:Expensive (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513702)

400 students for a pilot program? That doesn't sound like too much money to prove (or more likely squelch) the theory that more computers = smarter students.

Also, I'd guess these are being provided either free or at-cost by Apple, with partner Hughton Mifflin bearing the brunt of other costs. By the wording of the article, they seem to be the ones having commissioned the study, not the other way around.

As a side note, why is it always that "something is going bad here, so we shouldn't do anything about anything else until that is fixed." I've heard that people are starving, so why send people into space. We're at war with Russia, why do we need a civilian network. This isn't an A or B choice. When the state is broke, you have to find ways to make basic research continue to happen. Maybe the study will prove that, as I suspect, throwing money at technology is less effective than throwing money at smaller class sizes. Maybe it will show that the extra expense is worth it, especially as it can be amortized over several classes. Students cost thousands of dollars per year anyway. Or maybe there will be a little bump, and California will jump in with India's $100 tablet effort.

Or maybe we need a giant K-12 edu-wiki, which can be drawn from by all teachers and students across the state, and across the country. Oh right, somebody stubbed a toe, so we should just go home until they feel better.

Re:Expensive (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513774)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100822/ap_on_re_us/us_taj_mahal_schools

LA unveils $578M school, costliest in the nation

LOS ANGELES – Next month's opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will be auspicious for a reason other than its both storied and infamous history as the former Ambassador Hotel, where the Democratic presidential contender was assassinated in 1968.

With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation's most expensive public school ever.

The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.

Re:Expensive (1)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513850)

Yeah I saw that article on /. too. Meh.

Re:Expensive (1)

nosilA (8112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513886)

If it is, in fact, more effective at teaching students, it could potentially lead to larger class sizes, which could easily pay for the device. I am skeptical that it will be effective, but it could be - that's why they do pilot programs. I'm sure they will quickly begin to use it for other courses, too. I can see it being particularly useful for foreign languages (where being able to hear the text is important). I think the interactive textbook idea can also be really useful in science (especially at the early levels of biology, chemistry, and physics, where animations are so useful), geography (being able to pinch and zoom thousands of old maps, and being able to play games to reinforce learning), civics (being able to actually pull up the essential documents immediately). In fact, it's hard for me to think of a class that couldn't benefit from an iPad.

I think this will really turn out to be best for the students who want to move faster than the class and/or learn the material more thoroughly than required. For those students, this could help counter-balance the modern trend to dumb down the curriculum to produce high standardized test scores, rather than deeply examining the subject and teaching students to appreciate learning and thought. For most students, though, I expect this to be an overpriced toy with little educational value.

Wait... (0, Redundant)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513466)

...wasn't California bankrupt?

Re:Wait... (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513760)

They were. Washington has the U.S. Mint's presses spinning, and all will be well in a few days.

Re:Wait... (1)

deepthoughtless (1264016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513928)

They were. Washington is selling debt to the Federal Reserve at a stunning rate, and all will be well in a few days. Fixed that for ya ;)

Re:Wait... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513786)

No. Of course Republican and tea party fear mongers would have you believe otherwise.
They are having budget issues. Issue that are the end result of prop 13.

Re:Wait... (0, Troll)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513982)

Sure, but think of the children and how much better they will be able to learn under Lord Jobs.

iPad FAIL ( +1, Helpful ) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513476)

"If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."

FAIL

As expected from what prior evidence?

We all know that computers will make illiterate and innumerate Amerikans literate and numerate.

Yours In Osh,
K. T.

Re:iPad FAIL ( +1, Helpful ) (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513574)

Since the iPads have a calculator pre-loaded and other calculators available in the iStore these students should really excel at math ;-)

Re:iPad FAIL ( +1, Helpful ) (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513768)

As expected from what prior evidence?

Isn't that the point? They don't have evidence, so they're trying this out to see what happens.

Re:iPad FAIL ( +1, Helpful ) (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513846)

We all know that computers will make illiterate and innumerate Amerikans literate and numerate.

In the Middle Ages, the perfect gentleman was illiterate, but he knew how to read icons [wikipedia.org] , "baton sinistre on azure field", etc. No one had much use for reading and writing because books could only be found in the very few libraries that existed. Literacy was the field of experts only.

When the printing press was invented, books became available to everybody. People became literate. The perfect gentleman was expected to know the intricate details of spelling, calligraphy, grammar, punctuation, syntax, prosody, etc.

In the middle twentieth century programming computers was the field of experts only. No one had much use for programming skills because computers could only be found in the few data centers that existed.

When the personal computer was invented, computers became available to everybody. The perfect gentleman forgot how to read and write and went back to icons. WTF???

Re:iPad FAIL ( +1, Helpful ) (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513898)

exactly. Receiving homework assistance and entering your assignments without picking up a pen teaches nothing so they should not improve any skills there. Maybe adding some extra tutorial materials in videos might help but from what I remember, it was doing the work which made it stick. So it's all about the curriculum and how it's taught and not so much the device. The device, or any laptop, netbook, or table could save the school and students lots of money by using electronic course materials instead of paper books.

The problem I see is that almost all of the teachers I've seen around or heard of and the recent students I'm in contact with all show they know very very little about how to really use a computer. They know only how to click on a few things and if you change an icon or move something, they are lost. That lack of skill with the device at the educator level is why nothing changes and I doubt this iPad math class is going to be successful.

LoB

Free from apple right? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513484)

I hope those Ipads were free from apple, because last I checked there was some sort of budget issue over in California.

Re:Free from apple right? (1)

M. Kristopeit (1890764) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513620)

have you looked at the cost of math texts lately?

i worked on a mathematics teaching expert system under a grant from the national science foundation... interactive homework helps students grasp concepts much much faster, not by telling them how to do things right, but by understanding how and why the student did things wrong, and conveying that knowledge on to them.

for example, the most basic arithmetic assignment might ask a student "what is 2 * 4?"... if the student answered, "6" it's pretty obvious they are getting the "+" and "*" symbols confused.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513494)

Last time I checked, California had a MASSIVE budget crisis.... yet they have money to blow on iPads? Jesus... what's next?

Re:Wow (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513538)

GPS bracelets for Parolees. Wait....

Re:Wow (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513546)

Now you're just nitpicking. Next you'll be complaining about their gold toilets and gourmet chefs in the cafeteria. Hello, that gold is an INVESTMENT, and those chefs help student morale!

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513602)

I still don't get why Gold is an investment...especially if the world breaks down. It's always said that if the civilazation ends, Gold will be the last thing worth something. If the world is at it's edge, the last thing I'd want to carry around would be gold.

Re:Wow (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513798)

I still don't get why Gold is an investment...especially if the world breaks down. It's always said that if the civilazation ends, Gold will be the last thing worth something. If the world is at it's edge, the last thing I'd want to carry around would be gold.

People have held it as valuable since the dawn of time. Why would anything change that?

Besides, all the 'really valuable' stuff is either completely intangible (like knowledge) or transient (like food/water). You simply cannot carry these things in any appreciable quantity...

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514014)

I can't eat gold, I can't drink gold, gold doesn't entertain me, and it won't protect me.

Gold requires a certain level of civilization for it's OOOH SHINY effect to be worth while.

I guess if you had a gold bar you could beat someone senseless with it though.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513644)

Last time I checked, California had a MASSIVE budget crisis.... yet they have money to blow on iPads? Jesus... what's next?

A high-school [wsj.com] for over half a billion dollars?

Budget crisis? What budget crisis?

Re:Wow (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514074)

Worse. The article you linked shows 3 learning centers in the LA area that costs a total of $1.187 Billion.

Uh Oh. (1)

darien.train (1752510) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513502)

If iPads do to the classroom what they've done for my office conference calls those kids are doomed.

Re:Uh Oh. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513536)

Angry Birds could be good for Geometry.........

Re:Uh Oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513826)

If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, ...

So, a pre-determined result is in the works! Or; do they have a reason for their expectation?

There are cheaper alternatives (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513508)

I've seen Android devices for a fraction of the price. When you consider how much text books are going for nowadays, the thought that a student or school can rent textbook access could be a major game changer. I had semesters in college where textbooks alone were $300+ and that was 15 years ago.

Re:There are cheaper alternatives (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513540)

I should add that when I worked in the university's library, I was always told that the rapidly increasing costs for texts and periodicals was attributed to the cost for paper (just as for comics).

Re:There are cheaper alternatives (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513562)

But the problem is with the publisher, not with the educational institution. Textbook publishers regularly screw students/schools for what is essentially public domain material.

In all honesty, using free primary sources and teaching the class from that would be a lot cheaper than textbooks for most classes.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513518)

good to know americans are screwing up children's education at a younger age. Nothing beats a text book, its job is to teach, not give the ability to go online, but simply show math.

dont try to re-create the wheel, text books are the best way to get a basis of knowledge!

Good time to read/re-read... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513522)

replace an $80 textbook with a $400 iPad, wow!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513524)

replace an $80 textbook with a $400 iPad, wow!!

Re:replace an $80 textbook with a $400 iPad, wow!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513610)

No, replace 12-20 years worth of $80 textbooks with a $400 iPad.

Re:replace an $80 textbook with a $400 iPad, wow!! (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513738)

If you think an iPad will withstand even 4 years of the abuse textbooks go through, you're crazy. If I assume that they replace the textbooks every year (they don't) and assume the iPad can last 5 years (they won't), then they will break even if the publishers don't charge for electronic updates (they will).

Khan Academy. (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513594)

http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org] really does kick ass. I'm using some of his 5-10 minute videos to supplement my graduate level Linear Algebra stuff. Most of it's straight to the point and if I need clarification on a subject I don't have to turn to the book.

Now how this saves money. I won't know. Then again text books aren't cheap. What ever happened to the OpenSource textbook that I thought CA was assembling to be 'free'?

Re:Khan Academy. (0)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513794)

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!

Re:Khan Academy. (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513804)

It just occurred to me they're probably not going to just replace the text books. Probably looking at replacing the Math teachers too.

Why pay someone with experience or an education when you can get a babysitter for minimum wage and force all the kids to watch Khan Academy on their iPads?

Re:Khan Academy. (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513808)

http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org] really does kick ass. I'm using some of his 5-10 minute videos to supplement my graduate level Linear Algebra stuff. Most of it's straight to the point and if I need clarification on a subject I don't have to turn to the book.

Sounds good, but I can't seem to find the Kobayashi Maru on there.

Re:Khan Academy. (1)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514056)

The key word here is "supplement". I can't count the number of times I've been frustrated by being made to watch a video after Googling around for a tutorial on something or a solution to some technical problem. Reading is simply faster and more efficient than watching videos (unless of course you're dyslexic), yet, "instant access to more than 400 videos" is the major selling point of this program.

I could maybe see the value of providing iPads to kids with learning disabilities...that is, if such a program weren't so obviously prone to abuse (kids pretending to be disabled) and the whole "me too" mentality. Reading used to be fundamental...Why is this no longer the case?

Doesn't replace books (4, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513652)

Maybe I'm just a Luddite, but half the appeal of learning from a book (especially for a subject like math) was the ability to quickly flip between half a dozen pages to get to the right charts, reference sheets, and examples, and being able to scribble my illegible notes in the margins. I guess you could do it with an iPad with bookmarks and annotations, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as natural or as easy as you can with a regular old textbook.

Re:Doesn't replace books (4, Insightful)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513858)

I don't know about in California, but when I was in 8th grade I would sure as hell have gotten in a lot of trouble for writing in my books.

Re:Doesn't replace books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513860)

Get with the program, gramps. Now you can have your math equations with updated Facebook status! Think of the progression here. Pretty soon, it won't matter if X equals Y, but whether X is in a 'complicated' relationship with Y. Yes, sir, the South is gonna change. Everything’s gonna be put on electricity and run on a paying basis. Out with the old spiritual mumbo jumbo, the superstitions, and the backward ways. We’re gonna see a brave new world where they run everybody a wire and hook us all up to a grid. Yes, sir, a veritable age of reason. Like the one they had in France. Not a moment too soon.

Re:Doesn't replace books (2, Interesting)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513918)

I agree with that...my teachers offer online versions of our textbooks as an alternative for doing homework for people who don't want to carry their books home...but I HATE using the online versions. It feels so much harder to get to the page I'm looking for (especially if it comes to an assignment where you will want to frequently swap between the actual section your studying and things like the glossary/index at the back of the book). Of course assuming the IPad books are stored on the IPad itself and not just being downloaded everytime it is used...it might not be as bad. Sometimes the online textbook sites were also being slow as heck to load pages for me.

Re:Doesn't replace books (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513934)

Maybe I'm just a Luddite, but half the appeal of learning from a book (especially for a subject like math) was the ability to quickly flip between half a dozen pages to get to the right charts, reference sheets, and examples, and being able to scribble my illegible notes in the margins. I guess you could do it with an iPad with bookmarks and annotations, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as natural or as easy as you can with a regular old textbook.

I'd rather have an electronic book with a notebook feature that lets you clip out sections and arrange them right next to each other so you don't have to flip at all. Plus a clickable index, "jump to page X", bookmarks, and searching.

That'd beat the hell out of dog ears and page flipping.

Re:Doesn't replace books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33514004)

The summary says "allowing students to view teaching videos, receive homework assistance and input assignment all without picking up a pen or paper."

The problem with iPads is that they don't LET you use pens. There is hardly anyone who can learn maths without lots and lots of writing on paper (or blackboard), and it's impossible to assess students without looking at their written work. Doing maths on an iPad would be like writing a novel with crayons. Maybe the assignments are all stupid multiple choice questions?

IAAM (I am a mathematician). I've been a maths lecturer for 10 years. I use a tablet PC for a lot of my rough working, and an interactive whiteboard, and I even do maths on my N900 mobile phone when I'm on the move. Technology can be very helpful. But if it doesn't have a pen/stylus, it won't help you learn maths (unless you have a brain like Stephen Hawking).

It better with my taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513658)

I hope is not a public school. I live east L.A. and our schools don't get shit it seems like we get the hand me down books from the beverly hills high school. I hate it that the poor kids here don't get a proper classroom compared to the other kids, and is the poor people who pay the most taxes. Sometimes I feel like the government here just tries to keep people dumb in purpose. I mean somebody has to wash the dishes after we deport all the illegal immigrants.

First Line (3, Interesting)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513698)

The first line FTFA was what got me:

A pilot project in four California school districts will replace 400 students' eighth-grade algebra textbooks with Apple iPads in an attempt to prove the advantages of interactive digital technologies over traditional teaching methods.

Didn't we prove that computers have educational value back in the 80's? Then, wasn't it proved a hundred more times throughout the 90's? I guess sometimes you can never have quite enough proof.

Re:First Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513922)

I think the only thing we proved in the 80's is how computers can be used to make money from the educational system. I've visited plenty of classrooms with antique computer equipment that was used mostly as a prop to give the appearance of a modern classroom.

Here's a novel idea. How about in return for decent wages for teachers, the teachers union abolish the tenure system? I'm tired of incompetent teachers sand bagging the school boards by forcing them to pay their wage while at the same time trying to hire competent teachers to keep the testing score high enough to allow for federal funding.

Here's another novel idea. Use the textbooks longer. Algebra is still algebra 5 years from now.

Just put it (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513758)

online. Anyone with any reasonable device should be able to access it.

Re:Just put it (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513836)

+1 insightful

Seriously, why limit the students to iPads? When did the school system suddenly become a venue for creating lock-in where it doesn't need to exist? And with all the DRM on iPads, I really do not want to see textbooks on that platform -- textbook publishers pull all sorts of evil tactics already, why give them even more options for trampling on students?

Re:Just put it (1)

PocariSweat1991 (1651929) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513876)

Agreed. But someone has to find a use for unreasonable devices like the iPad.

for those laughing (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513834)

Textbook expenses are obnoxious. Not only does one have the cost of the book, but one must pay for storage to hold the books. At the central facility one must pay for people to manage the books. Check in and check out of text books is generally a multiday process that take an administrator, so just in pay we are talking at a couple thousand dollars per year per school. Books get lost and there is really no way to get kids to pay for books anymore. It is voluntary. You see this in the school library. Many kids only check out one book a year, the book that their english teacher makes them check our at the beginning of the year, which they promptly lose.

There are an increasing number of open source textbooks that are quite suitable for the classroom. Most of the classics taught in school can be downloaded for free or very cheap. Many libraries have electronic books, which reduces the loss at the library.

Why an iPad instead of a Kindle? The iPad has tools the kids can use. For instance, some schools use individual white board for in class assessment. The iPad will do that. Some schools give out calculators, at the cost of thousands of dollars to replace damages and lost machines. The iPad will do this, only need calculators maybe for testing and practice for testing. I would love to see the 9th grade kids play Gravity HD, or use Osmosis for end of the year. There is even a circuit simulator that can be used in any number of classes.

Of course the kids will lose them, break them, and sell them. But we have to not be so afraid of new things that we are held hostage by the old. Ideally, kids would be asked to buy the iPads through fund raising activities so they have some interest. Make them available to everyone, but not everyone has to have one. It is like other supplies. Lose it, then have to do things by hand.

You F^AIL iT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513838)

then JordAn Hubbard

Administrator abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513870)

Didn't we just go through a round of schools getting busted for snapping photos of students at home in various states of undress? Or expelling them for eating candy? The potential for abuse is equal for an iPad.

Also, considering there public schools are free, how will the State recup the cost of iPads that don't come back, much less damaged ones? They cannot deny a child an education if the parents refuse to sign a damage waiver so how will they manage cost?

Oops, I'm working in the real world...I forgot about the fantasy world of the Peoples Republic of Californistan.

Why should this work? (1)

Aviation Pete (252403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513908)

when all they do is replacing textbooks with PDFs of textbooks, there is no reason why pupils should advance more quickly. Even throw in all of Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org/), and the ony difference is they will watch it on a tab instead of a PC - if they watch at all.

How about putting content in which could really enlighten you where dry and outdated paper books couldn't? Just an example: Look at Gapminder (www.gapminder.org/world/)!

But doing this for all topics would be a massive programming job ...

What I do expect: After having sold iPads to all early adopters, the industry will now flog tablet computers to a wider audience, and the school market is a logical choice. So this experiment will be labeled as a success, regardless of the outcome.

Not yet there (1)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513926)

I could buy an iPad with the money I have but I'll take a regular textbook any day, namely because they can't take the book away from you.

Additionally, the hardware is more of a novelty than anything else at this point- too expensive, too fragile (especially for middle schoolers), too much of a target for theft, and not advanced enough.

The textbook companies love this concept, since it kills secondhand ownership. You can sell licenses to eBooks just like software!

Also, math input without a stylus or keyboard (and I doubt they're teaching LaTeX for any sort of efficient math input) can't be fun.

Steve Jobs quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33513942)

"I used to think technology could help education. Now my inevitable conclusion is that no amount of technology will make a dent."
-- Steve Jobs

The Oops Factor (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513946)

And who will pay for the lost, drowned or bashed Ipads? Eighth grade kids are rougher than boot camp at Paris Island!

At last (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#33513980)

For the ADD/ASD kids in class who

could not write down notes fast enough because their fine motor coordination was shot to hell and the idiot teacher didn't understand that their 8 x 11 piece of paper wasn't as wide as a 16ft whiteboard

couldn't follow said teacher half the time because the kids whispering behind them drowned out the teacher's loud voice

who were denied the copious examples they needed to understand how stuff worked due to the easy-odd-problems-with-answers-hard-even-problems-no-answers BS that math textbook authors kept pulling

who could have just understood matrix math if they could have seen an interactive demonstration where the matrixes rotated and the numbers one-by-one multiplied themselves by each other

the digital replacement of math textbooks with interactive instruction that can be replayed over and over again in a quiet area and can on-the-fly create copious needed examples is long overdue.

Whaaaaat???? (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#33514040)

I thought California was broke??? This must be their idea of fiscal responsibility.
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