The Fatal Flaw with iPad Textbooks for K-12 Education

Wow! I just heard all the announcements from the education event this morning and one thing hit me over the head like a bag of bricks:

They are selling K-12 books in the iBookstore for $15.00 or under.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the flaw in this argument? …… We’ll wait…..

A full 90% of K-12 students in the US attend public schools. Public schools are state and partially federally funded. They cannot (as I pointed out earlier) require, ask or even beg an individual student to spend one penny of his or her own money on anything having to do with curriculum. 

Just who does Apple think will be buying these Textbooks? The presentation made it seems that the onus would be on the individual student. The student will buy the books and own it forever on their own iPad.  There are a lot of assumptions in that statement. Let’s deconstruct them.

Students have iPads

Yes, I’m sure that many do, but to use a book as the main book in a core class, it means that everyone has an iPad. I don’t think so.

Schools will magically decide that the book offered in the iBookstore is what they want to use

Ever been in a faculty meeting? Ever dealt with a book that’s been used for decades and tried to change it? Ever killed a long-term relationship with a textbook vendor than may or may not include a perk or two?  I didn’t think so.

Schools will change their book acquisition and funding model overnight because Apple wills it.

“These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along. Move along.” This just isn’t going to happen. I could write endlessly on why it won’t happen, but is that really necessary? It will require a major seed change (which is an eggcorn for sea change) on how administrations and public education in general work. 

Private Schools 

Here we have no problem. Everything is peachy. For the 10% of these students who have to buy their own books Apple may well have a market. But was Apple going for a 10% market or for a 100% market. This is a rhetorical question, but for those in public schools, as Rodney Dangerfield said in Back to School: Shakespeare for Everyone.