Textbooks are part and parcel of education. Every subject at every level of education has a number of related textbooks that are required of students to obtain to assist in the curriculum. However, the textbook is essentially a book, and books are part of the old media. The IT revolution has changed the way we process old media such as the television, radio and even books, why not the Textbook?
Untapped IT Potential
I feel that there is a lot of potential in IT that is still relatively untapped with regards to education. As of current, IT has made it easier for students to submit assignments and carry out administrative duties; saving time and money by increasing efficiency. However, I believe that the next step of the evolution in education is to have textbooks digitalized, as it can benefit a student in many aspects.
Due to the text-based nature of textbooks, I feel that physical textbooks can be easily done without with the emergence of Tablet PCs. One such Tablet PC that is experiencing immense growth in popularity is the iPad. Thus, I will use it as an example to highlight the advantages that a Tablet PC has over the conventional textbook.
Although textbooks seem like a small part of the entire cost of education, studies have shown that an average undergrad can spend from $500 to even more than $1000 dollars a year on textbooks alone. An iPad costs from $700 to $1000, this is equivalent to just ONE year worth of textbooks. Furthermore, with an iPad you can save money on stationery and writing paper, as there are applications for the iPad that assist with note taking and journal planning. Additionally, with textbooks being digitalized, money can be saved on having a publisher for physical textbooks; further cutting costs.
With the audio/visual capabilities of an iPad, gone are the days where one has to stare blankly at static words and pictures. Pictures can be replaced by videos with voiceovers and audio effects. The touch screen feature also increases user-friendliness and efficiency. This will definitely help those who are not as IT savvy as the rest. Also, it will be more appealing to the younger generation by making lessons more interesting.
The Internet capabilities of the iPad makes obtaining textbooks so much easier. Rather than standing in line at a bookstore, students can simply download textbooks into their iPads. Also, with the massive internal memory of the iPad (16 – 64gb), students can store and retrieve dozens of textbooks from one device. To add to the convenience, finding keywords and phrases, copying and pasting text and flipping through hundreds of pages can be done with great ease due to the interface of the iPad.
Weighing in at 680 grams with a thickness of a mere 13.4 mm, it is a lot smaller and lighter than most University textbooks. A feature further enhanced when taking into consideration that literally hundreds of books can be stored into it’s harddisk.
It is obvious that there is a large amount of paper being used to print textbooks and inevitably wasted when newer editions are released. The only paper that a student who has an iPad would be using, is the box it comes in.
It helps in saving the environment.
There are many glaring advantages and benefits that come with digitalizing textbooks and using iPads to view them. In fact, schools from all over the world are starting to adopt and experiment with the idea. Also, reading textbooks is just one of the many functions an iPad has to offer. There are also many other educational-related and useful applications that are available. The technology is already here, what better time than now to start using it?
Here is a video of a report of how the iPad is used in the Nanyang Girl’s School. One of our very own local schools.