In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to the Western World. In January of 2010 Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. Both inventions have revolutionized how information was delivered to the public and education systems.
Gutenberg’s press allowed education systems to change where every student could have a textbook. It spurred the development of reading skills for everyone. It encouraged authors to write and the spread of newspapers.
For the next six hundred years it became common to see students carrying two, three, or four textbooks home from school to do their homework. As our knowledge of the world increased the textbooks seemed to grow in size and weight.
The cost of textbooks and the rate a book could become outdated also increased. School boards soon found that the cost of textbooks, which can range from $65.00 to over a $150.00 per book, began to spiral out of control. Unlike equipment textbook life expectancy was fortunate to make five years before they were outdated or damaged beyond use. The increase cost and budget restrictions led school boards to delay replacing textbooks in a timely matter. In fact some Canadian Social textbooks still in use have Stockwell Day listed as the leader of the Opposition.
Many Boards found that there was a need for school fees to assist in balancing their budgets. The rapid rate in which new information and data becomes available often makes a textbook outdated even before it is published!
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010 he added his famous line “one more thing.” He then introduced the iBooks system for textbooks. This system will allow school boards to purchase textbooks for less than $15.00 and the books would be updated automatically for no additional coast. The sticker is of course the initial cost for an iPad and the durability of the iPad.
The iPad and its competitors have given school boards another tool in improving education standards while controlling costs. Boards are showing interest in revising their paper libraries and the trustees in Toronto’s District School Board has even announced plans to eliminate paper textbooks by 2015.
Today eReaders are becoming commonplace, most Alberta public libraries offer eBooks on line and more and more authors are offering their titles directly on-line.
It may only be a matter of time before your children come home not with a pile of books, but an iPad or similar device to do their homework. This may be Steve Jobs greatest contribution to our society equal to Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press!