Apple plans to reinvent the textbook

By Wendy Sanacore
Looks like Apple is doing it again. News today has it that Apple plans to re-invent the old fashioned textbook. Apple is preparing to offer a series of software tools to make it possible to move education from textbooks to interactive digital lessons. These lessons will be interactive, colorful and engaging for student.
According to a Yahoo! news article:

Jobs is cited by his biographer, Walter Isaacson, as saying textbooks were just waiting to be transformed. Not only were they dull and sometimes outdated, they were heavy (just ask any seventh-grader with a backpack full of them).

In “Steve Jobs,” Isaacson wrote, “His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. ‘The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,’ he said. ‘But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.'”

I read an article about the announcement in the Wall Street Journal citing Philip Schiller, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing as saying that educational institutions already use more than 1.5 million iPads with access to more than 20,000 educational apps.
According to the article, 6% of education textbook sales will be digital this year, which is up from 3% in 2011. That number is expected to rise more than 50% by the year 2020.
One technology analyst stated that the only people that would be threatened by the change would be book publishers who don’t embrace the change and backpack makers because the textbooks are so heavy right now.
But my question is, who is then responsible for purchasing the iPads that the kids are going to use to learn on? Is it going to be a parent’s responsibility to purchase the $500 product for each child they have in school? And at what age is this going to begin? I’m not quite sure you can really trust an elementary or middle-schooler with a piece of technology that is so expensive.
I can only assume the schools won’t be absorbing this cost. We’re already cutting music and arts because the fundamentals can’t be funded, how can it be expected that iPads are going to be given to every child?
Technology has a place in classrooms right now. Teachers use digital tools to teach every day and students are already completing homework and accessing pertinent information online.
I just can’t see the total logistics of this initiative and how this isn’t going to be just one more burden for parents. Do you think this will truly improve our educational system?