Interesting post: Amazon Just Beat Apple to the Classroom, on Gizmodo. I’ve been following ebooks and textbooks for more than 10 years now, expecting disruption. Textbooks are obsolete. It should have happened years ago. And there’s a lot going on now, but classrooms are still the same.
In this one, post author Brian Barrett starts by quoting himself from a few months back after Apple presented an iPad solution to classroom learning and textbooks. Brian said then:
Let’s be clear; this is indisputably the future. What we saw today is what our classrooms will look like once iPads are far cheaper, once digital textbooks can be handed down as easily as physical ones, once teachers of every subject have several educational material options to choose among. For now though, it’s important to remember that “new” and “different” always come at a premium. One that the vast majority of us can’t afford.
Brian says that’s as true today as it was then, but …
But look at how Amazon’s offerings have grown since then. A backpack-friendly 7-inch tablet for $160 (and E-ink technology has progressed enough that you could probably make due with a $70 entry-level model). A Kindle eTextbook service that’s ballooned to over 200,000 titles, with generous return policies and cash-saving rental options. And a platform ubiquity that ensures no kid gets left out, regardless of what device he or she owns
And then this, on Whispercast:
But today’s announcement of its Whispercast technology seems to solve problems Apple hadn’t even thought of.
Whispercast is a free service that serves as an umbrella for many, many Kindle management features, but most of all it provides the kind of centralized control over devices that are a luxury for businesses and a necessity for schools. Content distribution, social media and purchase blockades, password protection, document sharing; there couldn’t be a more teacher-friendly checklist.
Sigh … I guess that’s good news. But it’s sad, at least in some ways, that control, blockades, and protection are barriers to better technology in schools. I can see why — lawsuits, fanatics, porn, bullying, and so forth — but still. Damn.
(Complete aside: I like the lead from a writing point of view. Here’s Brian’s first sentence from today’s post:
On a freezing, cloudless day last January in New York, Apple presented to the world its vision for the future of education.
The freezing cloudless day has nothing to do with the rest of the post, but it’s an interesting start.)