Textbooks vs. iPads

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Maddy Schmitt

Though some value the small size of the iPad, others argue that it is harder to read on. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press.

With so many tablets out there and with so many people buying them, you have to wonder if they will last. Will lighter iPads replace heavy textbooks?

Some schools in New York, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey have begun to replace textbooks with iPads. Students and teachers are using them for lessons, communication, and even school assignments. Most students are favoring the light-weight devices and saying it makes learning more enjoyable.

Pearson and McGraw, one of the world’s largest text book houses, believes that the future is with the iPad and is getting ready to make all their subjects available online. They have invested in Inkling, a company with an application that allows many students to read the same book on an iPad. 

What impact will this have on the average student?

Well, there is an obvious difference in the price. The average cost for a World History textbook is $41.73 used and $85.45 new. The iPad 2 is advertised at $499.00 online. Over time, the iPad would prove to be less expensive, but the initial cost is still overwhelming.

And what about taking notes?

I like to write in the margins and highlight key terms as I go along. You can’t do that with the iPad.  My cousin who recently went off to college said that she prefers her textbooks because it’s just too difficult to read off the iPad for hours on end.

Another factor is that I would be worried about someone stealing it. The devices are expensive and not easily replaceable. You just can’t leave it on the table in the library when you step outside like you can with a textbook.

BookBoon, the largest publisher of free textbooks, did some research by contacting their 3,000 Facebook fans and asking them which method they would prefer to read text. Most students thought it was uncomfortable to read on an iPad over long periods of time and sided with print.

I don’t have an iPad and I don’t plan on buying one. With all the budget cuts in our school system, I don’t plan on seeing them handed out in our classrooms anytime soon. Some private schools get donations from parents or businesses and can afford to such luxuries.

For now, I plan on loading up my backpack with heavy textbooks and heading off to class, to learn the way my parents and grandparents did…. by highlighting in the margins and turning the pages.

What do you think?