February 17, 2012

Rethinking textbooks with an eye on the iPad

Watching my 12 year old hoist his absurdly heavy backpack on his shoulders this morning makes this older article from School Library Journal particularly interesting to me. From the September 2010 issue, library media specialist Jeff Hastings writes in his article Test Driving the iPad:
"As a school librarian, even doing something routine on the iPad, like browsing articles using the USA Today app - one of 150,000 apps available...reminds me of how static and lame school textbooks are in comparison. As I tap my way through its daily crossword, I imagine textbooks similarly retooled for the iPad platform, complete with interactive quizzes, personal and locational customizations, scalable text, curriculum-based games, videos, and live web links...Imagine a talking language textbook that also used speech recognition to coach pronunciation, a social studies text with interactive maps, a violin primer that would patiently teach you to join it in a duet as it accompanies on cello. There are so many possibilities. And even though there are already digital textbooks...available...most are no more interactive than their print counterparts. There may be a big career opportunity wrapped in that last sentence..." I couldn't agree more. One of my younger son's many textbooks costs $75 to replace and is heavy and cumbersome and anything but user-friendly for today's kids. As a librarian and a book lover, I am not for replacing books with all their tactile papery goodness with nothing but kindles and nooks, but I feel there is room for both books and computers to co-exist in the same harmony in the real world as in my messy house. And what a joy it would be to see my kid tuck his slim, light as a feather iPad into his backpack as he heads out to school in the morning.


Stephanie said...

I agree. Books and Computers can and should be able to coexist. The backpack situation is absurd.
I also love "papery goodness."

Cait O'Connor said...

As a librarian and bibliophile I agree with you, there should always be books but there is room for both types of learning. Carrying heavy bags on shoulders all day is a recipe for future sufferings. When I was at school many moons ago we had nearly all our lessons in one classroom, nowadays the kids spend all day walking round carrying heavy bags.