Apple iPad is a game changer for education

A lot has been written already about the new Apple iPad. From my perspective the iPad isn’t merely an oversized iPod. It’s not a tablet. It’s not a PC (er Mac). It’s not another device to surf the web or view photos. It’s not another Kindle. It’s a whole new category of device.

Much of what has been written about the iPad are on its features. To look merely at features from a technology standpoint is completely missing the point. It’s about what the iPad could do.

Have you considered what the iPad could do for K-12 and secondary education?

First some facts…

  • The iPad claims a 10 hour battery life
  • The iPad enables users to read (and interact with) iBooks in a manageable size
  • iBooks have multimedia capabilities and in beautiful color
  • Apple is the leader in the K-12 education market
  • K-12 textbook sales in the United States is a $5B+ industry (source BMI: 2008 K-12 School Market Outlook)

The sweet spot for the iPad – in my humble opinion – is the education market. A 10-hour battery life means students can use the iPad all day without worrying about recharging. The cost of textbooks for school districts (and parents of private school kids who shell out big bucks for books) will be dramatically lower because distribution costs will be virtually zero. Revisions to textbooks in iBooks format will be painless and frequent. New material can be added as easily as software is updated today and then distributed as a patch. Students would never be afraid to write in the margins because they could do so electronically. Teachers could distribute homework assignments and lectures over the air. Kids with learning disabilities could be reached in new and creative ways.

Imagine being a history student learning about the civil rights movement. Your assignment is to read about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only would you be able to read about Dr. King, you could instantly see the “I have a dream” speech without leaving your iBooks history book. Sweet.

Folks, the iPad is a game changer. If Apple can do for the K-12 textbook market what they did for music, the iPad will change forever the way kids are taught in school. And we haven’t even touched on the college market.

The initial buyers for the iPad will be techies like you and me. Then the next wave will be high schools. Followed by middle schools and elementary schools. Leading universities will force publishers to open up more of their content to the iBooks format. The old-school ways of the publishing industry will crumble as a new world order emerges.

Update: WSJ-Textbook Firms Ink E-Deals for iPad.

"Major textbook publishers have struck deals with software company ScrollMotion Inc. to adapt their textbooks for the electronic page, as the industry embraces a hope that digital devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad will transform the classroom."

David Daniels

David Daniels


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