Students publish ed-tech textbook on iBookstore

More than 600 school districts have iPad programs.

At Georgia College, educational technology could spawn more educational technology.

A group of graduate students at the Milledgeville, Ga.-based campus have used Apple’s iBookstore to publish a video- and image-laden eTextbook filled with information and advice for educators hoping to better incorporate technology in their classroom lessons.

The eBook, “Using Technology in Education,” is a student-created textbook available for the iPad and available for free in the iBookstore, which was introduced in January.

Nine graduate students in Associate Professor Chris Greer’s Advanced Technology for Teachers course researched, filmed, and photographed the text and images used in the ed-tech textbook, covering myriad topics from social media use in education and document cameras to advances in assistive technology and eReaders.

Greer said his class’s eTextbook is a good example of how technology can make education more efficient and affordable without sacrificing quality.

“This movement toward electronic textbooks and tablet computers could revolutionize K-12 and higher education,” he said. “Digital textbooks are inexpensive and can be updated more quickly and easily. Our textbook strives to look at technology and education together.”

Greer said making textbooks available for iPads will have quite an impact in K-12 and higher education as more educators adopt the devices for classroom use. More than 600 school districts have an iPad program, he said.

“It’s a cool, well-designed eBook,” said Greer, associate professor of instructional technology in the John H. Lounsbury College of Education, who added that Apple deemed his students’ work exemplary. “After we submitted it, no revisions were needed. The textbook passed Apple’s screening process, which speaks to the quality of the students’ work.”

Twelve percent of college students who answered a recent survey said they owned an iPad, the Apple product that has launched a tablet computing revolution.

Two in three student respondents said the iPad was “in” on their campus—an indication that the tablet’s popularity among twenty-somethings is much greater than ownership. In 2010, just after the first iPads were released in stores, 11 percent of students said the tablet was “in” at their school.

Student Monitor, a national market research firm, conducted the survey among 1,200 full-time students at four-year colleges and universities.

Six in 10 college students—and seven in 10 high school seniors—believe tablets will replace traditional textbooks within five years.

Crystal Burt, an English major at Georgia College and a high school teacher, said the chapter she completed for her course’s eTextbook focused on the use of interactive whiteboards that can supplement a lecture with video and images.

“My chapter educates teachers about the three major distributors of interactive whiteboards and discusses accessories, links, and other resources of this product,” said Burt, who will earn her specialist degree in education at the college. “The entire textbook teaches teachers new ways to integrate technology into their courses.”

Neil Hughes, associate editor for the blog Apple Insider, was skeptical of the iBookstore’s popularity among educators when it was unveiled in January. Stagnating school budgets, he said, could make the expensive iPad a pipe dream for many school systems hoping just to maintain current technology programs.

“This is a time when schools are cutting back on budgets, they’re not spending a ton of money,” Hughes said. “How well received that will be is hard to say, because this is a tough economic time and schools are feeling the squeeze from top to bottom.”

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