Kudos to Apple and the textbook industry today from not shying away from technology to improve their product. I’m sure that we will end up with better textbooks that will help normalize education.

That’s the key to today – normalization. Great classes that I’ve taken have been about much more than the textbook, most of them didn’t even use a book. Where iTunes U/iBooks 2 will help is on the bad side of things – the classes where the teacher will simply pull the slides provided by the textbook publisher and read them to the class.

Bad teaching will bump up a notch – students will have the chance to be more engaged and textbooks won’t have 5 year old information1.

But this is just a first step in fixing our education problems. They stem much deeper than bad, uninteresting textbooks. Education is an institution that doesn’t get evaluated. We assume everyone learns in the same way and should learn the same thing.

Books were once a novelty like the iPad is today, and in a few decades (or less) it will have lost it’s wonder, it’ll just be a basic expectation, like books are today. There’s a psychological model that proves that. That’s when we’ll know that we still need to fix the underlying social institution.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m excited about the opportunity of creating textbooks easily and lowering the cost and barriers to entry. Just don’t think that this fixes education, it’s simply the first step in the right direction.

  1. Right? I assume they will have updates. []
January 19, 2012