Apple has partnered with leading educational publishing companies, including McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson, to produce interactive digital textbooks that, at $14.99, are quite affordable. (Some of these books are on iTunes right now).

Apple has also unveiled its iBooks 2, a format that includes review questions and short tests to engage the student and provide instant feedback.

These new products represent a huge step forward for students, with the extra perk of not having to lug those 30-pound book bags around. But adoption of these new products may be unrealistic, some industry insiders argue.

CourseSmart, a digital textbook publisher, released a statement that argued that students may not buy into the Apple inventions. “While it is always exciting to see what kinds of products Apple develops, it is important to understand that the academic market is driven by access to high quality education for all students, which cannot be obtained by mandating a dedicated device or dismissing the value of providing today’s students with high quality, curated content that is specifically developed to provide learning outcomes.”

Apple will not replace the textbook anytime soon, adds Xerox VP of Publishing John Conley, “It is unknown if adoption states and open-territory school districts could make room in their budgets for a technology infrastructure update of this nature – it seems likely that the printed textbook for the major K-12 series will hold on a bit longer.”

New technology will be impactful within the next 3-5 years, e-book formatter Mark Gross, CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory predicted. “Education is the big frontier in computer technology,” he said.

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out

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