In today’s world it is easy to overlook some of the basic challenges related to delivery of the cool new innovations in education. The Washington Post has reported in “Apple Launches iBooks Software to Deliver Interactive Textbooks to Students on iPads” about the latest greatest slickest information delivery tool.
The target: elementary and high school. The object: interactive textbooks. The flaw: underfunded education systems and a serious digital divide between the ability to purchase iPads and the attractiveness of the $15 dollar textbook.
While the Post article mentions that divide it is merely a passing observation.
It’s not clear how Apple plans to get it front of students, however, since textbooks are subject to lengthy approval processes by states. Also, few students have iPads, which start at $499.
There seems to be no discussion in the hype of the unveil of the fact that educations systems are facing major cuts in funding and the economic crisis is not alleviating the pressure of rising prices in necessities. Therefore luxuries such as an iPad don’t seem to be a wise choice for textbook delivery in the nation’s schools.
Of course, maybe I’m shortsighted. Perhaps Apple’s next reveal will be that they are creating a foundation to rival the Gates Foundation and its commitment to libraries and education with the end result of “an iPad in every hand”.
While I applaud the innovation in delivering critical information, let’s not get blinded by the hype of the slick technology and get back to classroom basics of good teachers able to teach arithmetic, reading and writing. When we have those basics in our students they can go on to create the next slick technology and drive the economy forward. The capabilities of technology should not outshine the purpose of education.
Constance Ard, January 20, 2012