Digital textbooks always sound like a great idea on paper. They save money! And children don’t struggle under the weight of giant books! What’s not to like?
Well, there’s the medium for reading on them for starters. Kindles crashed and burned on the college level, and while iPads are great, they are also expensive and far more fragile than a spiral bound notebook. Some schools have managed to have pilot iPad and computer based textbook programs successfully, but it still leads to many questions: who pays for the iPads? Do you upgrade them yearly? What about textbook licenses, are they yearly as well? And most importantly, do you require students to have Internet at home to take advantage of these programs?
According to The Digital Reader, at least one school has discovered the Internet problem was a fairly big one. Not every student had a high-speed connection, and this made it difficult to use the textbooks purchased and assigned by the school. This has forced the school to return to paper books for now, but it does expose a major issue for public schools: how do you integrate technology without putting pricey financial expectations on students?
It’s a tough path, and one that isn’t going to be answered overnight. In this case, it isn’t just a matter of the right hardware, which is what helped retail ebooks take off. It isn’t just a matter of polished software. It’s a matter of figuring out how to create the software and the hardware in such a way that it’s cheaper for both schools and families…that day is coming, but not yet.
Do your kids have eTextbooks? How are they handled? Let us know in the comments!