The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

iBooks take weight off students’ shoulders, literally

Four binders, four journals and two textbooks are what sophomore Erik Roberts carries each day in his backpack, each adding up to a large amount of weight being carried each day back and forth from class to class. According to a July 2009 New York Times article, the average weight of a middle-school students’ backpack is 18.4 pounds and some were as heavy as 30 pounds. To reduce this problem, Apple recently added school textbooks to its application iBooks.

Since the textbooks are through the iPad they are available to Multi-Touch, audio, video, 3-D objects, highlighting, underlining, notes and more. According to Karin Williams, the director of Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) operations and strategic planning (OSP) instructional service department, FCPS newly introduced online textbooks to the curriculum.

“It is important for students to learn how to use technology appropriately for learning,” Williams said.

Many school systems are starting to make the change from hard-copy books to technology and screens for learning. However, MCPS has yet to make the change for the entire county according to John Burke, director instructional technology office of the chief technology officer.

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“Some schools have been purchasing eReaders and tablet devices and exploring how they may best be used to support teaching and learning,” Burke said.

According to a Jan. 23 CBS article, Apple sold more than 350,000 textbooks in three days. The textbooks are sold directly to the students, meaning a distributor to schools is no longer required. Global Equities Research, a company that provides research in global equities to ease stock selection, estimates this will cut out around 33-35 percent out of the cost of the books. In addition the production costs can be reduced by 80 percent, making high school textbooks available for $14.99 or less.

“The online textbooks subscriptions are purchased for every 7-12 students as well as teachers,” Williams said. “The textbook subscriptions are purchased centrally using operating funds.”

According to Williams, students in middle school are very excited about the change, and though the high school students are slower to embrace the change, they are generally positive about the experience.

“I would definitely want an iPad with online books because that would totally eliminate the need for my backpack and would make things easy to get to,” Roberts said.

Every journal, binder, book and textbook adds weight. Most students feel like their carrying a boulder on their back. According to Burke this is one of the many factors that should be considered when changing to online textbooks.

“An iPad would lighten my backpack to the point where I wouldn’t need to bring one of that size,” freshman Nick Muscarella said.

The biggest concern of switching to technology is keeping students engaged in learning and off of social network websites during class. According to Williams, these issues are universal to the movement to online resources.

“I think students will continue to go on Facebook and other websites because this is already a habit most kids have,” freshman Laura Werber said.

When adding new ways of teaching there are lots benefits but also many concerns.

“Portability, the ability to update information quickly, transportation and distribution costs, the dynamic nature of the content are some of the benefits,” Burke said. “Initial purchase, maintenance, and replacement costs of devices; the pricing structure of digital content and security are concerns.”

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iBooks take weight off students’ shoulders, literally