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iBooks could replace the paper textbook?

Article: The Many Benefits of Using iBooks in Education

Link: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/09/the-many-benefits-of-using-ibooks-in-education/

The article above was posted to emergingedtech.com at the end of September, and was something that interested me. It speaks about the use of iBooks in place of traditional textbooks, and outlines the different benefits using iBooks can have on both students and teachers in an educational setting.

The article began by mentioning the burden that comes with working with a paper-based system of education, and then mentions the growing revolution that computer technology in general is having on our society. The use of technology, author Vera Reed argues, may “not only make the educational system more streamlined, but also more exciting and effective” (Reed, 2013). As the article progresses, some of the advantages are listed.

The first advantage is the cost. Paper textbooks have prices ranging around $110 dollars, whereas iBooks cost less than $15 dollars by comparison. The second advantage mentioned is the weight of the textbooks. For younger children, this burden can be quite extensive, but iBooks weigh no more than the device itself. The third mentioned advantage is the when using electronic software, updates occur instantly. The iBooks can be updated as soon as the new information is available, whereas paper textbooks at best get an annual revision, and then a new text must be purchased to access said updated material. Finally, the iBooks provide the means to interact with course material in a new, more hands-on kind of way. They can contain videos and graphics that are interactive, and allow the student to better manipulate their learning experience.

How does this relate to education and technology?:

The connection is pretty obvious: the article is about using iBooks in place of traditional paper texts. This article is interesting in that it does bring up some great points regarding education and technology; two arenas whose merger has been evolving quite rapidly in recent years. The strongest example of this to me is the point made about the interactive nature of the software as opposed to paper textbooks. Being a visual and tactile (hand-on) learner, I often find it difficult to read a text in order to glean information. Having the opportunity to see an animation act out the material, for example, a cell replicating through mitosis, is something I would benefit from, as it adds a concrete element to the information I am ingesting.

The other valuable element of this article is the idea that the information is current. Knowing that when I read something in a text (for instance, the Earth is flat or Pluto is a planet in our solar system) that is outdated, I am often left speculating as to how much of the additional information is outdated. Knowing that whatever I read or teach is current, I am able to speak with conviction and stay relevant in conversation with peers, students, and those in society.

How does this relate to E.C.E.?:

I think it would be silly to ignore the involvement that technology has in the lives of children. Children are able to navigate ipods, smartphones, and tablets much better than I could or can even know. As an educator, one needs to be able to teach a child with flexibility, adapting to their growing interests while supporting their needs. I think that the iBook technology, if age appropriate, could be utilized in this setting, and should. Educators are meant to challenge, guide, and support children in ALL of their domains of development, and if iBook technology can help them to do so, then we should. That being said, I do believe that there are some issues with the article, which I will discuss below.

My beliefs on this subject:

While I think that technology has afforded humanity many benefits and aids, it is not without repercussions. There are a growing number of people in our society with digital addictions to phones, computers, and technology as a whole. If adults are spending more time on their tablets, phones, and computers, should we be reinforcing those same ideals to the children in our care? I believe that to best serve children, we must present a balanced view of technology: digital AND analog. I don’t think iBooks, for example, should be banned, but there must also be paper books and alternatives to screens. Supporting children’s writing needs will also be easier if they are exposed to written work, and I think that implementing an iBook-only curriculum may deteriorate the interest and practice of writing things by hand as opposed to typing them.

All-in-all, I think the advent of electronic reading materials are a great asset to classrooms of many ages, but they should not be the only representation of written work to children. Educators must take steps to ensure that they can better help their students, whether that means learning how to use technology better, or learning to spend some time “unplugged” and enjoy analog technologies of old.

Reference:

Reed, V. (2013, September 29). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/09/the-many-benefits-of-using-ibooks-in-education/

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