Go here for the rest of the story, at Singularity Hub.iPads Instead of Textbooks – Trial Underway in California Middle SchoolsSeptember 13th, 2010 by Aaron Saenz at Singularity Hub
I used to work in the textbook industry…and it is an industry, not a vocation. Educational publication companies are out to make money first, educate second. They have to – textbook adoption practices in the US mean that every time you write a textbook you are taking a multi-million dollar gamble on the whims of regional school boards. This leads to some pretty complex (some may say devious) tactics on behalf of publishers…
I’m in a complex state of mind over this trial. I believe in interactive digital textbooks and learning systems like HMH Fuse. I think they’ll actually impact students positively and I really wish I had such programs when I was in school. Digital education is the wave of the future. No doubt. …But I’m also very cynical about textbooks and their publishers in the US. These are good people who want to educate kids, but they are trapped by some very strong economic pressures into doing whatever they can to get an edge, and there are few edges as sharp as new shiny iPad technology. [...] I’m warning everyone that we need to be very critical and vigilant in making sure that these new digital systems are providing real benefits to our students. Like so many technologies, we can only reap the positive gains of digital textbooks by working against the negative possibilities.
I agree with the author's reservations in the fact that digital publishing will obviously make it easier for people who want to teach alternative 'history', such as creationism. However, it goes both ways. I believe in freedom of speech not because I want to hear Larry Flynt's hypotheses about womanhood or The KKK's trash about how my husband and children don't actually have "souls" --- whatever that means. No, I believe in freedom of speech because I can counter what they have to say, what power has to say, without fear. Much fear, anyway.
Like the internet itself, I think moving to the digital medium will eventually give more power to the people, in the aspect of more knowledge. My suggestion: never assume they're telling you everything (or even the truth), keep asking questions, and research... research.... research.
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And on a side note, this is just another step in the direction of digitizing libraries. If students are carrying around iPads, why not offer the faculty library as a resource, as well? And from there, the public library. No more inter-library loan requests... <3 *shiver*