One of the biggest gripes among college students is the high price of textbooks. Paired with tuition increases, loan payments, the increasing difficulty of finding post-schooling employment — and more — dumping $200 on a book meant only for one semester doesn’t sound appealing. So why would a strapped-for-cash student want to invest an additional $500-plus on a tablet PC just to read these books?
Granted, e-textbooks are cheaper than their print brethren, so in the long run, a student may scrimp a few pennies going digital. However, if that were the case, e-textbooks on laptops would be the loudest homerun of the century, and they’re not.
The iPad is missing a lot of key features, especially if it’s meant to become an educational tool. Want to jot down notes in the margins? Sorry: no handwriting capabilities. Need to pull up a calculator and Web browser while reading? Whoops: no multitasking. Students have busy lives and warring priorities, and the iPad cannot give them the needed support. It is, as it stands, a glorified vanity item.
Perhaps by using the first-gen iPad as an inspiration for future devices, educational publishers and tech manufacturers can develop an appropriate, functioning portal for e-textbooks and truly bring higher education into the 21st century. But as it stands right now, Apple is not the one to deliver the goods.