I'll Take an Order of Textbook, Please Hold the iPad

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

I'll Take an Order of Textbook, Please Hold the iPad

Thumbnail image for tablet pic.jpgLet me paint you a picture of what is undoubtedly occurring on college campuses all over the world these next few weeks. Students are rushing to their campus bookstores, shooting the breeze as they wait in line with their peers to sell back their hefty textbooks. After all, if their parents were so kind to shell out $150 in the first place to help pay for their books, surely they would be fine with their kids pocketing the $25 they receive after selling back their text books.

The scene is chaotic as students will be haggling to the last dollar to get the most bang for the buck for their barely used book because, let’s be honest, senior week, formals and beach trips are on the horizon. It’s that beautiful second semester tradition – one that will slowly be phased out in the next few years, though.

That’s because everyone from elementary schools to high schools to higher education institutions are going the way of the iPad, a tactic administrators are touting as a cheaper option to students or parents purchasing dozens of textbooks. Slowly, iPads are infiltrating school classrooms and kids are becoming just as (or more) tablet-savvy as their parents who depend on these devices for business uses.

 In fact, most recently, New Trier High School in Illinois announced its plans to give parents– who in one school year can pay more than $1,000 for textbooks if they have two kids in the district – a break by taking advantage of agreements between Apple and some publishers to offer textbook titles for $14.99 through the iPad.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, New Trier allocated $375,000 so that it could put the popular tablets in the hands of 600 of its 4,200 students in the fall. If the program meets with success over the next three years, administrators say it could be expanded by fall 2015 to include every student. Officials estimate the average family will save about $30 in book costs the first year and about $60 the following year. Students in the selected courses will pay a $60 fee to receive an iPad. In future years, a student could pay $40 each year of high school and own the device.

"I think it could be one part of a strategy to help people save some money and not have to carry heavy books around," said Judy Schnecke, of parent in the district.

iPads in the classroom boast countless benefits. Aside from their technological supremacy – from high resolutions to tactile elements to video and audio features – they help prepare students for college and the “real world,” which are quickly becoming rife with tablets. Moreover, it is hard to find fault in any device that provides cost savings and eradicates back problems that result from toting around heavy backpacks filled with textbooks.

But – and I give you full permission to call me old fashioned, antiquated, or whatever else springs to mind – I still think textbooks should have a place in the school environment. There is something about taking notes in a book, glossing your fingertips over the textbook and knowing that that book was solely designed for education purposes that is pure in its very form. A textbook is one of the founding principles of education and something that I still hold sacred.

While I would be wrong in hoping that schools keep favoring textbooks instead of iPads – as iPads certainly are the wave of the future and for good reason – I must admit that I will be a little bit slower to hop off my nostalgic memory lane train. And I gather that a few of you will still be sitting there right next to me as a world of “touch,” “slide” and “share” does not seem all that exciting at the end of the day.

For more on this topic and others, follow me on Twitter.

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1 Comment

So when Apple coerces publishers and sets the price for e-textbooks that's okay? When Amazon does it, it's wrong. Hmmm...

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