In mid 2005 two School Board members and several members of IT staff along with the Superintendent traveled to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California for a private conference on adapting schools and curricula to digital textbooks.
The late Steve Jobs thought the conference and input important enough to take time away from his other duties at Pixar.
What we learned was amazing.
Many times textbooks are outdated almost as fast as the printed copy hits the student’s desk.
Not only do errors creep in, but information changes along the way.
2 + 2 will always equal 4, but authors may either miss facts or clarify them in history books and other materials.
New discoveries in science my take years to make it into a textbook.
And school systems around the country can be stuck with those outdated textbooks for ten years or longer.
The real problem is the process.
It takes months, sometimes more than a year to update before going to print.
That was only part of the process that bottle-necked the flow of information.
Although none of us knew that Apple was planning the iPad device, we knew that Apple was poised to revolutionize the education industry as it had the publishing industry 20 years earlier.
No longer would it take as long as a year to update textbooks, and errors can be eliminated almost immediately.
Not only that, but the updated textbook will be available right away.
Interactive books will mean that no longer must learning be dry and boring.
As I mentioned earlier, it will do to the education industry what Apple did to the publishing industry.
It won’t happen overnight, but ten years from now, a retired educator won’t recognize just about anything.
You can see Apple’s promotional material on digital textbooks here.