iBooks Textbooks

Okay, so Apple's new iBook Textbooks look amazing. Personally speaking, I'm quite excited by the design opportunities iBooks Author will provide. But more broadly speaking, they raise all sorts of tricky questions about the nature of Apple's impact on the education system.

First up: yes, I'm completely in favour of the digitisation of teaching materials. Books that are out of date and crumbling aren't doing anyone any favours (although I wouldn't go so far as Apple's apparent "books are so 16th century" approach), and if done well, digital textbooks have the potential to improve things significantly for teachers and students alike. But the big question is: who's going to provide the iPads?

Surely they'd only work if every student in a class has them. So is the school going to provide the iPads? Or the parents? What if one or the other can't afford them? Despite Apple's education discounts, their hardware is still prohibitively expensive for many. The divide of privilege between pupils, classes, schools, families is only going to be amplified.

The technology looks amazing, I just hope those in charge of education know how to use it.

… oh dear.