According to The Chicago Tribune, several Chicago-area school districts have begun replacing paper textbooks with iPads for some of their students — early indication of a growing trend. The school districts have chosen to go with iPads in part because Apple recently announced deals with textbook publishers to cap prices on digital copies sold over Apple’s iBooks store at just $14.99 — much cheaper than many paper copies.
They’ve also gone with the iPad over other, simpler e-readers like the basic Amazon Kindle or the Nook Simple Touch because the tablet enhances the learning experience with rich media like embedded videos, photos, and audio files, along with interactive elements. One high school, New Trier, spent $375,000 to get iPads for 600 of its 4,200 students for the fall.
The school districts hope the tablets will help parents save money; estimates say the average parent in this district will save between $30 and $60 per year in book costs at the outset. Obviously as more textbooks become available at the low iBooks price, the savings could increase.
The report also says that some districts are considering letting students take the iPads home; currently they’re owned by the schools and kept in the classrooms in most cases. If kids take them home, they can use them to study outside of the classroom and to access the internet to research for reports.
Many of these districts are planning to expand their existing digital textbook programs, so we’ll see more of this in the coming years.