By now, most educators have heard of Apple’s announcement last week that promised to revolutionize the textbook market. I believe that digital, interactive textbooks are the wave of the future. It makes sense – newspapers, magazines and so on have gone digital and many are also interactive. Therefore, I couldn’t wait to try out iBooks2 and their interactive textbooks.
My Enthusiasm Was Short-Lived
After seeing this demo I was more than excited to try out some of the math textbook offerings. Having taught math for many years, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me. So off I went and decided that I Geometry(Common Core Edition) would be a great one to try. After all, geometry practically screams out for interactive, media-rich presentations!
Even at $14.99 I was hoping for some sort of trial and fortunately there is a sample button. Better to be safe than sorry! But, I clicked on the sample button and here is what I got:
Really? I’m already in iBooks!!!!
Ok, I’ll bite the bullet and see if actually paying for the book makes any difference. Of course there was no problem getting the book when paying but what is the purpose of the Get Sample button?
Let’s Give It a Try
The book is approximately 1.2 GB in size and does take awhile to download. I mention this only because if you plan to use an iPad for textbooks, music, movies, apps, etc. the 16 GB model will not be a good choice!
I opened up iBooks and selected my new Geometry textbook. It took 30 seconds to load on my iPad 1. That is totally unacceptable but maybe the content will make up for it. I thought to myself, what topic really lends itself to animated illustrations? Transformations!!! I used the Table of Contents to navigate to reflections and here is what I got:
No media, no interactivity, not anything I was expecting. I continued to search the book using the index (which was extraordinarily slow) and didn’t find anything resembling an interactive textbook! Basically, it seems like a huge pdf file!!!! To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly!
Unfortunately, That Was Only the Beginning of My Disappointment!
So far, a huge textbook, no sampler, slow loading time and no media interactivity should be enough to give a big thumbs down. And, it is! But that’s not the biggest problem! The textbook crashes constantly!!!! Just getting ready to write this post I had to reboot my iPad just to get it not to crash. So, the relatively simple chore of “opening” this textbook took me approximately 5 minutes!!!! And, who knows how long before it crashes again?
This textbook is totally unusable on an iPad1. Yes, I know the iPad 3 is just around the corner but is the iPad 1 obsolete in under 2 years? I guess so if you want to use the new iBooks!
Repercussions for Educators
- Can schools afford the hardware needed for these textbooks?
- Can teachers wait and wait for their new digital iBook to open? I used to think repeating the page numbers to students who were not paying attention was irritating. I can’t imagine waiting and waiting for each student to open this iBook!!
- What are teachers to do when the app crashes?
There are so many negatives with my initial experience with this “revolutionary” technology that make me scratch my head and wonder why? I am sincerely hoping that things will change for the better. But in the meantime, is there anyway I can get my $14.99 back?