Integrating Technology In K12/Textbooks vs. iPad

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There may be a new technological twist to the way students receive information in the classroom. The creation the Apple iPad may potentially change student's learning experiences forever. The development of this product and the many features and applications it offers may create a whole new way that students read and take notes in the classroom. Many school districts throughout the country are already considering replacing traditional textbooks with Apple iPads. Apple iPads create a whole new interactive way that students can experience new concepts and ideas. The old way of paper and pencils may soon be replaced with a lightweight device that can do everything we've done in the past and more.

Closer to home, Menasha School District is on its way to replacing textbooks with iPads. The concept creates uncertainty along with excitement throughout the population of teachers, students and guardians. It's a big step in the right direction. A parent of two middle school age and high school age daughters states, “This is a terrifically bold choice and it’s the only way to go.” The Menasha superintendent of schools, Robert Kobylski, states that the teaching profession lags behind the technological advances happening in society. He also says that the unlimited information on the internet and the access to various resources through these devices are invaluable to students learning. Students will be able to explore so many different ways of finding information by using the technology available on an Apple iPads. Kobylski believes that students will become more engaged and will be able to acknowledge the relevance of their studies, while teachers will be able expand their teaching methods and expand the curriculum. [1]

In this chapter, we will provide a description of the Apple iPad and some of its features and capabilities. We will also go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of replacing textbooks with the Apple iPad. It will be up to you to make your own determination of whether taking this leap into technology will be a step in the right direction towards giving our students the best opportunities to learn.

iPad Features

Apple's new iPad is approximately ten inches long and seven inches wide and weighs about two pounds; essentially, it is a laptop-iPhone hybrid. It has all of the features of an iPhone except the ability to make and receive phone calls but operates like a computer. It is smaller than a laptop because it does not have a keyboard attached, but it does have the capability to connect one if desired. The iPad functions entirely as a touch screen, and thus, a mouse is not required to use this device. Upon release, there were three different options available: a 16, 32, and 64 gigabyte memory drive. They cost $499, $599, and $699 respectively. Apple has created a truly unique device in the iPad, and this brand new technology has many different uses. For example, many people may use an iPad as a business tool or for work purposes whereas some may use it simply for enjoyment. Also, recently some school districts have begun implementing the iPad into its classrooms as an interactive, fun way of learning for students. The degree of success for this, though, is arguable as there are many advantages and disadvantages to using such sophisticated technology in a classroom.

The list of features for Apple's iPad is incredible. Essentially, it is a miniaturized version of a laptop. It includes, wireless internet browsing, email, photo and video storage, and its own map feature. It can also be used as an iPod with iTunes, can store contacts and contact information, and there are over 300,000 apps available for purchase at the App Store. Several useful features for school-related activities include Notes, Folders, iBooks, and Numbers. The Notes feature allows the user to jot down notes quickly and efficiently with an on-screen keyboard and allows the user to email the notes to themselves. The Folders feature is a great organizational tool for students; much like a regular folder, the Folders for iPads help students keep similar information in the same place. The iBooks and Numbers features both need to be downloaded from the App Store, but are incredibly useful, especially for students. iBooks allows students to browse a virtual iBookstore and purchase a wide variety of books; then, once purchased, this feature functions much like Amazon's Kindle. You download the book to the iPad and you have the entire book available to be read anytime. The Numbers feature would be most useful in a math classroom. It allows the user to create tables, charts, and graphics quickly and easily by entering numerical data. There is also an intelligent keyboard that helps the user enter data and create formulas. This is nowhere near a complete list of features available on the iPad, but it is a list of important and useful features for students in a classroom setting.[2]

Advantages of Replacing Textbook with the Apple iPad

Technology continues to play a vital role in our culture today and has just begun making huge advancements in our education systems. The latest technology innovation, iPads, are diversifying the way the content is being taught in classrooms worldwide. Hoping to break the standard textbook model, iPads provide students with portable access to multiple books within the same device, accommodate individualized curriculum for every student, and present deeper core content and knowledge through visual exploration and applications.

It’s amazing that one small device can possibly take the place of standard textbooks. Fraser Speirs, a supervisor of an iPad project in a K-12 school near Glasgow is excited about the new iPad. He calls the iPad a shoulder saver and couldn’t be happier about the reduced amount of paper and books students will no longer have to lug around. The iPad will not only “save shoulders” with its light weight of only 1.5 pounds, but it's capable of storing dozens of subjects in just one iPad. According to an article about iPads by Aaron Saenz, the textbook industry focuses on making money first and educating students second. The heavy, expensive books that industries are selling to schools are hard to update without printing a whole new addition. The iPad features use software updates that allow new information to be accessed quickly. Contrary to some beliefs about the expenses of an iPad, this device will save schools the expenses of updating their curriculum and will actually save schools money in the long run. [3]

The benefit of an iPad being portable has more advantages than its weight. The iPad can be customized to the learning experience and curriculum for individual students. Students are able to choose their own pacing, get customized feedback at each step, and evaluate themselves as they learn. Applications provided by the iPad deliver curriculum in a variety of different ways allowing students to explore in school or at home. If using the iPad at home, students can receive guided instruction from their peers and teacher that aids them in the learning process. The iPad helps typical children but differentiates the instruction for children from disadvantaged families or children with special needs. is committed to providing assistive technology at no additional cost on the iPad for people with disabilities or diverse learning styles. The iPad includes a range of tools for students who need assistance with literacy and learning, vision, hearing, and physical and motor skills. They are committed to providing an equal opportunity for students to be productive and achieve academic excellence. Soon to be a future special education educator , I was thrilled to see Apple taking assistive technologies to a whole new level. [4]

According to an iLearn Technology Blog about iPads, education in the 21st century has to be active, engaged and customized for students in order to achieve maximum effectiveness in every classroom. As mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of using an iPad is the ability to customize curriculum with the interest of individual students in mind. This individualization allows for a more active, engaging learning experience. Chicago Public Schools’ science director John Loehr believes the iPad is a very effective tool that has an unparalleled ability to immerse students in curriculum and transport them beyond the four walls of the classroom. He feels the iPad brings academic lessons to life. Bringing education to life not only keeps students engaged, but enables critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving. Ipad’s applications make interactive learning possible. Apple has created an application for every subject and stage of learning imaginable. With over 300,000 thousand applications available on, Apple stands behind their applications and believe engaging applications assist in performance improvements across the board in schools worldwide. [5]

In conclusion, the iPad is a hands-on, interactive way for students to become engaged and interested in curriculum. Replacing books with the new iPads will change the way typical classrooms are run by presenting children with new opportunities to learn and grow intellectually.

Disadvantages of Replacing textbooks with the Apple iPad

So far we have discussed the iPad features and some of the advantages to using the iPad to replace traditional textbooks. It's important, however, to also discuss some reasons why there could be some debate on whether iPads would be good replacements. My research was difficult and flooded with articles that expressed the excitement of the capabilities of this device. The popular opinion seemed to be that replacing textbooks with the Apple iPad makes sense. It seems to be just a matter of time before this notion becomes reality. However, I did come across some articles that expressed concern about this device being used in the classroom. These disadvantages are listed below.

While Apple iPad offers conveniences that may seem great to some, over two-thirds of students interviewed by the New York Times prefer to read traditional printed textbooks and books. Some students voiced their concerns over getting side tracked too easily while reading on the iPad by checking their Facebook accounts or surfing the web. Others voiced concerns over possible eye strain by reading a bright screen. A student commenting on this article expressed his concern with individuals becoming too dependent on electronics, therefore, causing us to lose our own independence and abilities. While the benefits to using the iPad in place of textbooks looks good on paper, the actual implementation of this may not be well received. The proposed change of having to read everything on a screen rather than the traditional method of print is not a good idea to many consumers. Although the majority of young adults and adults interviewed may be against this idea, it would be interesting to get the opinions of the young children in this country. Perhaps the opinions of the generation who is growing up in this world full of technology would have more open minds about integrating this type of technology in the classroom. [6]

Another concern over the use of the iPad is the cost. While cost may be also considered a benefit to some, it is unsure what the future of digital texts will be. There could be issues over licensing and expiration dates that will require schools to incur more cost than originally expected. Jumpbooks is a digital textbook company that offers digital textbooks currently to college students. The concern with this company is that the books are non-refundable and only last for six months. This is a disadvantage to those who end up dropping a class or for those who want to keep the information provided by a textbook for future reference. This disadvantage comes in light of using textbooks in higher education, so let's relate these concerns with using iPads in the elementary school classroom. Digital textbooks in the elementary classroom would need to carry longer licenses otherwise they wouldn't work. Textbooks are generally used in elementary classrooms for periods of a couple years, so licensing agreements would have to be made to accommodate this time span. The notion of updating textbooks after each school year is also a possibility. There would be those who would challenge this notion by saying that updating textbooks each year would result in more work for the teacher to prepare lesson plans and projects, however if the textbooks were only altered slightly to reflect new scientific findings and to update content due to curriculum changes, this challenge would go unnoticed. [7]

While the Apple iPad has provided some disabled children with some capabilities they wouldn't normally have, there are some disadvantages. The sensitive screen can cause issues with some children and become more frustrating than useful. Many times it is difficult for them to turn the page of a book or scroll up or down to read the page. These types of problems that could arise with these children could turn some classrooms away from it. Setting up these children for success in using devices is the goal in most classrooms and although it may be important to encourage these students to work through problems and learn to cope, these unnecessary frustrations may result in using different devices more suitable to the needs of students with disabilities. [8]

On a final note regarding the disadvantages to using iPads in elementary school classrooms, is the cost issue of lost and damaged equipment. It is a concern to some that young children will not have the capabilities to use this type of equipment responsibly. Children dropping the iPad or ruining it in some other way is a concern that would need to be addressed before considering the switch from textbooks to iPads. Should we place this type of responsibility on young children? Advocates for the iPad could counter this concern by pointing out that the youth of today are use to caring for technological devices such as cell phones, portable gaming devices and computers. Learning about the rules and care necessary to use an Apple iPad would be definitely possible in their world of technology. So to say the possibility of damage to a portable device such as an iPad is inevitable when used by young children is perhaps a disadvantage to some, but a is a possibility that would be worth the risk for others.

Conclusion and Opinions


We have discussed the Apple iPad and some advantages and disadvantages to using these devices in the classroom setting. This leaves me to ponder how the iPad will effect the way we evolve into the future. It's interesting to see the advantages and disadvantages to being solely dependent on technology. Has the way of paper and pencil gone by and is this technological future inevitable? My answer to that question is "yes". As much as we may try to hold ourselves back of trying new things and phasing out the old, I feel our future of textbooks definitely lies in digital form. It only makes sense that we take advantage of these devices to phase out textbooks that are cumbersome, expensive, not to mention use valuable resources in the environment. Our culture is rapidly becoming dependent on computers and the internet. It only makes sense that our books enter this realm of technology. There may be some downsides to this development, however I think the advantages outweigh those disadvantages. I can just picture my daughter arriving home from a long hard day in her 3rd grade classroom, with her iPad in tow, waiting to show me the cool things she did in school that day. Not only is this device invaluable for the applications and innovative ways students will be able to experience the traditional 2D print, but it also serves as a valuable communication tool. Back and forth communication between students and teachers, teachers and parents and students and parents will be redefined by these technological advances. I definitely would advocate for replacing textbooks with iPads. A new wave of education has approached and we should grab on to it and run.


Before conducting this research for our wiki book assignment on the integration of technology in K12, I was skeptical towards the idea of implementing iPads into the everyday classroom curriculum. I was resistant to new ideas and changes with a fear that society has become too dependent on technology. After researching the advantages of the iPad further, I have come to an agreement with Amy and feel the advantages of using an iPad in schools out way the disadvantages. I was amazed by nontraditional opportunities the iPad provides for teachers to create new and intriguing lesson plans. I feel the iPad will aid students in becoming lifelong learners and encourage them explore and take pride in acquiring new knowledge and skills. I look forward to watching our society fall in love with the endless possibilities of an iPad.


After seeing both the advantages and disadvantages of replacing textbooks with iPads, I see why this is such a controversial debate. I definitely understand why some people may want to replace textbooks with iPads because there are many advantages, but personally, I would lean against this idea for several reasons. One reason is sheer personal preference; I would rather read my books, whether it's a textbook or a novel, as a hard copy rather than on a computer screen or iPad. I know iPads, Kindles, and other similar devices have developed the technology so the screen looks very similar to that of an actual book, but I would still rather read a book and physically turn the pages than read on a screen. Another reason I would rather not replace textbooks is that they are durable, whereas the iPad is somewhat fragile. How often do students, whether they are 1st graders or high schoolers, spill water or soda or some other liquid on a textbook? With a textbook, there's really no harm done; the student will still generally be able to read and understand the text. However, if you spill something on an iPad, the probability of it malfunctioning is much greater. If this happens, the student misses out on an opportunity to learn. Also, if a student misplaces a textbook, which happens frequently, it is typically pretty easy to replace. However, if a student misplaces an iPad, it would likely be much more difficult to replace. Essentially, these reasons focus on the students being responsible or irresponsible. Another reason though, is that the iPad, as a form of technology, always has a chance of not working properly; some students may not be able to figure something out or the iPad itself may have technical problems that can cause many problems in the classroom. A textbook, on the other hand, can virtually never fail. It will always be the same for each and every student. And finally, my last reason for opposing the replacement of textbooks with iPads is that students would then have the ability to become sidetracked more often. The iPad has too many fascinating applications and features that would tempt students during each and every class. Though textbooks may be dull or dry, students would have a much easier time staying focused while reading it because they wouldn't have the internet, games, and email at their fingertips.

Replacing textbooks with iPads is a bold step and perhaps inevitable. This chapter has provided some information about the device and some possible advantages and disadvantages to implementing these devices in our schools. The concept of having an electronic device as the only resource of learning for students might be quite difficult to imagine, but as times change and new technological discoveries are made available, we must determine how these devices can make contributions in our classroom that will be beneficial for students and their future success.

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