An info graphic that recently appeared in MercuryNews shows that the cost of switching students’ four core courses from traditional textbooks to Apple’s new iBook 2 digital textbooks could cost school districts three times more. Based on a classroom size of 32 students and four textbooks, including workbooks, lasting six years, the research shows that a school district would incur cost of approximately $11,328 for a traditional textbook program. For an iPad textbook program that includes replacement of hardware after four years along with software, and e-textbooks, the cost is estimated to be $36,000.
The info graphic is a good step towards accounting for the factors that goes into the economics of e-textbook programs in K-12. However, considering schools can resell the iPads after four years the cost for the iPad program could be much lower. Of course, that could be off-set by replacement costs from lost, stolen, or damaged units. Nevertheless, until there is ample evidence that indicates technology such as iPads improve student’s learning, school districts should be wary about diving into a device-driven e-textbook program.