Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisis'

Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisis'

Summary: Kids hate reading. With iPads set to replace textbooks in many U.S. schools, will reading finally become a hobby for today's kids? I doubt it.

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TOPICS: Hardware, iPad, Mobility
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Though iPads are becoming increasingly popular productivity engines for college students, many U.S. schools will be moving away from the traditional textbooks in favour of Apple's tablet.

Apple told AP that they know of at least 600 school districts that have launched "one to one" programs, in which at least one classroom of school students are receiving iPads to use for school work.

But there is one thing we know about kids nowadays -- they hate reading, and when they do read, they don't enjoy it.

Can iPads in schools revolutionise reading? I wouldn't bet any money on it.

(Image via Flickr)

Apple will revel in the glory of serving a vast number of school students with the latest tablet technology, up-to-date electronic textbooks and interactive content. But as these kids go on to seeming success, there are still -- let us not forget -- more school students out there without the aid of an iPad, than those with.

I am not the greatest fan of tablets for personal productivity. I personally will not gain from having one, nor will I spend my money on a device for which a netbook or an ordinary laptop can achieve with greater ease.

But in education, especially for the younger generation, an enticing and interactive platform is all but necessary to overcome the 'boredom' of modern education. Interactive whiteboards barely scratches the surface of interaction nowadays.

It's an interesting observation to rid the shelves of textbooks, only to replace them in e-reader format, to enable the downloading and updating of text as and when they become available. It saves on paper, physical storage space, and the cost-benefit of each iPad and running costs proportional to buying a chunk of textbooks in the first place.

The Kindle, though great in theory and widely accepted as the 'standard' for all other e-readers, barely scratches the surface of the wider problem.

But you say, "Kindle's are for books, and iPads can run interactive and engaging content". Yes, they do, when the content is actually available, and part of a core curriculum of study that the school supports.

But though the iPad guarantees a certain level of glitz and excitement to the end-user student, it does not guarantee that reading will be an automatic by-product of the tablets themselves.

I do not doubt for a minute that technology, especially tablets and slates, cannot be a useful tool in the classroom. But reading is still a 'boring' thing to do for kids today -- even through to recent graduates like me.

The prospect of having to sit down with a journal article, thirty-odd pages in length, used to send shivers down my spine. I'm still not a fan of reading, but knowing that the end result will be of value to me is enough of an incentive for me to plough my way through it.

While tablets are a valuable asset in the classroom, and a cost-effective replacement to textbooks, the iPad or any other tablet for that matter does not guarantee that students will want to read. The interactive content alone will be stimulating enough to maintain an attention span for longer than five minutes, but the core value of reading is still something educators and parents alike need to tackle.

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Topics: Hardware, iPad, Mobility

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41 comments
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  • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

    Tablet is just the medium. I doubt changing the medium will change the habits.
    Getting rid of paper textbooks does make sense. Paper books are heavy and expensive.
    Interactive content has been around for a while on desktop PCs that they have in every classrooom. It did not (and will not) replace the text books.
    I wonder how many iPads will get broken though if they are abused in the way paper textbooks do.
    Scrabbler
    • I agree. This is just buying technology for the sake of technology

      @Scrabbler
      believeing this will solve some issue unrelated to it.
      William Farrell
    • Could change habits...for the worse

      @Scrabbler When the kid has the iPad in front of him, isn't there going to be a huge temptation to play games or surf the net rather than actually read?

      Also, an iPad is far more expensive than a simple eReader. If reading is really what it's for, why spend the extra $$$?

      Finally, are the schools going to have to pay an "Apple Tax" on all the books and other content they use??????
      cornpie
    • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

      @Scrabbler ... It's Apple looking for a way to sell more IPad's. There are only so many of these devices that will sell to the public at the prices they currently go for.
      krustykanuck
  • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

    The gaming aspect will make the reading thing worse as kids are distracted while at school now.

    Of course, the first time some young kid gets jumped for his iPad people will rethink this whole idea!
    slickjim
    • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

      @Peter Perry

      Schools can set restrictions if they feel they need to on the iPads. That will take care of your worries. ;-)

      But really, there's schools all over the country (US) who gives kids much more expensive laptops to take home and do their work on. Couldn't the kids plays games and surf YouTube on those also?
      dave95.
      • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

        @dave95. - My problem with this is that the laptops you spoke of *supplement* text books, not replace them. The iPad, in this case, is a replacement for books, and I think that the teachers are going to spend more time looking at what kids are looking at on their iPads rather than teaching.
        PollyProteus
    • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

      @Peter Perry And of course, if this was a Zoom, or a new windows tablet, this would be the greatest idea in the world!!, But because it's an Apple product, it's a crap idea, and as usual, Mr. Perry will try and find any reason to make the idea fail....<br><br>Zack: Yes, there are a lot of kids that don't like to read, but I also, personally know quite a few kids that do enjoy reading; I believe it has a lot to do with their home enviroment. When parents spend the time reading to, and with their children, from the start of an early age, a lot of kids will want to read. It all starts at home, IMHO.......
      T-Wrench
  • I don't think it'll necessarily change learning habits...

    I don't think it'll necessarily change learning habits, but it'll certainly save a lot of money in the long run. In turn, having more money available will hopefully result in a better learning environment.
    olePigeon
    • Having or getting more money has never resulted in more learing

      or even adequate learning.

      Tossing more money at the problem, or tossing technology at the problem, isn't going to improve the learning environment, or the quality of teaching, or even the quality of the teachers.
      adornoe
  • I don't see this solving the &quot;reading issue&quot;

    I mean, that took some serious government intervention to screw that up. How did people ever manage to teach children to read before our modern wonders?

    Seriously though, I hope this works out. I see very little down side in this... umm... government run.... Oh never mind.
    oncall
  • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

    Books with gold and diamond covers usually work best for education.
    For poor folks like us iPads would do.
    paul2011
  • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

    From the link:

    <i>"The iPads generally cost districts between $500 and $600, depending on what accessories and service plans are purchased.

    By comparison, Brookfield High in Connecticut estimates it spends at least that much yearly on every student's textbooks, not including graphing calculators, dictionaries and other accessories they can get on the iPads."</i>

    So it may save the schools money in the long-term. Personally I think every school should be incorporating such technology into the classrooms, especially if it saves the school money. As one of the students mentioned, they already use technology at home. But then come to school and use boring old books.
    dave95.
  • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

    People don't like reading because pretty much the only reading they do as children are forced onto them. They're forced to read "great" literature as a child that is usually nothing more than a bore to even the most intellectual of people. Instead of introducing them to truly interesting books (as I was, and even then, it was through my father, not a school), required reading is forced down their throat, making them hate the medium in general.
    Aerowind
    • Personally

      @Aerowind

      I don't believe the schools exist to teach kids how to read. The schools exist to administer the state mandated educational program. We could have an entire separate debate on the track record of this program. The "teaching the kids how to read" for pleasure and knowledge should have already been accomplished by the parents. My mother (not a "teacher") taught our entire family to read, including my father who was an illiterate high school graduate(!).
      oncall
      • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

        @oncall @Aerowind You're both right. While many great writers and poets (such as Shakespeare) remain to be great inspirations to us all, the content of such writings is irrelevant and too complex for kids, even in their early teens. I was given Roald Dahl books to read on my own before bedtime when I was six. I used to stay up half the night reading because I enjoyed these books so much.

        Meanwhile, given the cost of iPads, why aren't schools considering the likes of the Amazon Kindle? It's astronomically cheaper and the battery lasts far longer. No eye strain involved for reading it for long periods of time. It's lighter. It's thinner.

        The Kindle is also far less likely to be stolen. My car got broken into a few months back. They stole my wife's purse and some other stuff that were in a bag under the seat. They didn't take the Kindle that was in the bag too. =D
        Imrhien
      • RE: Schools ditch books for iPads; Won't solve today's reading 'crisi'

        @oncall +100%. Please see my response above, the 2nd part where I responded to Zack.....
        Thanks.....
        T-Wrench
  • Message has been deleted.

    wannda7
  • I wonder who read text books

    Hello do you read your text books when you are in schools from end to end.

    Get real, Jobs had said once we don't read as much as we used to hence the iPad a product capable of more than just for reading.
    AdanC
    • Blame the education system......

      @AdanC

      Marketing will come up with a product and then create a problem for their new toy to solve, so that they can sell it.

      The main issue is the state of education. Rewriting books to be politically correct instead of the real facts. Banning books because it is politically correct to do so. Teaching everything but the basics so that students can't cope in the real world because they don't have the basic math, reading and writing skills.

      Give a kid a fun book to read, teach them how to read it and to enjoy it, and that will instill the passion for reading more books. It did for me. Do that in the early years and they will be hooked on reading, for life. Today's education has made learning to read and reading a complicated, boring, and uninspired task. No wonder the U.S. is sinking to the bottom of the list of education standards!

      Until our education system is fixed, we will be the has beens in this world as the world passes us by.
      linux for me