Amazon’s announcement of the new Kindle Fire has certainly caused a ton of people to weigh in in all sorts of ways on the implications for us “user folks”. Some will be right, some will be wrong but one thing which I think we can all bank on is that tablet-based education where schools get rid of textbooks is certainly on the horizon.
When? I know not. However, there is an inevitability to tablet education that seems all but assured to me right now. The “race to the bottom” cost factor is only making these devices more inexpensive every year. Just do the 2011 math.
A 7 pound textbook costs $99 for each subject area. Assuming at least 5 subject areas per kid (ELA, Science, Math, History, and 1 odd duck – could be foreign language, could be Health, and so on) and we are looking at $495 per student per school… not inclduing the cost of the class set the schools often buy.
At $199 for the Kindle Fire that leaves at least $300 per kid for content per subject area. Put another way, it allows for about $60 dollars per kid per class for content. Considering an average ebook costs about $10 bucks, for any school that goes the tablet route, they get 6 books per class PLUS THE ENTIRE INTERNET in the hands of their kids.
For the same price as a set of textbooks.
Additionally, they get access to every text in public domain. (The textbook companies include public domain material in their materials all the time and yet they charge the schools for its inclusion, Huh? I know.) And every educational image in the Smithsonian, every wonderful video on School Tube, every archived article in TIME magazine… the list goes on and on and on as to what kids get with the Kindle Fire that they do not get with textbooks.
Of course, we are a slow group to adapt in public education and textbook adoptions will still take place “as they always have” but I’d venture a guess that a less of them will because tablet-based education just inched that much closer to being a very smart, if not innovative, alternative to a very tired and “has seen its best days” curricular tool.