The e-book revolution is bypassing U.S. elementary schools - Apple, e-commerce, Networking, hardware systems, tablets, internet, e-business, Barnes & Noble, management - Computerworld

The Ebook Revolution Is Bypassing US Elementary Schools

and UK school.

This is a thought-provoking piece by Joe Mohen, a serial entrepreneur who has started multiple Internet companies, including SpiralFrog, which secured groundbreaking licenses for free and legal downloads; ParishPay, which automated the handling of money for Catholic churches; and Proginet, where he helped create XCOM, a systems management product...
Extracts here, with highlights emphasised by me:

As things stand now, hardly any American elementary school students can get electronic copies of their textbooks, and the major electronic bookstores such as Amazon and Apple don't even provide the most basic search functions to find children's books based upon reading level.

As a parent, I see the potential. This past Christmas, millions of American parents gave their children e-readers like iPads, Kindles and Nooks. Being parents, they expected to load them up with electronic copies of textbooks and children's books at the appropriate reading level. But they were disappointed. I was saddened to watch my young son and his friends using those devices for games and other apps instead of reading.

What I found was that none of my children's textbooks were available electronically. I can't fathom why this is so. The potential for profit alone should be enough of a motivator to offer textbooks in electronic form. Many parents will buy their children both hard and soft copies. And I'm not just talking about the affluent parents of private-school kids. I have spoken to many low-income parents who say they would be willing to spend money on e-readers and electronic textbooks and literature if they were available. One e-reader is capable of holding many more books than a child can carry. Have you seen the size of the backpacks that burden schoolchildren around the country these days? A lot of kids are now using book bags on wheels, like luggage. Let's give them a break and let them throw an e-reader in their packs instead.


...All parties should make sure that the e-books produced for schoolchildren have value-added features that will make them more functional. Again, profit is a great motivator; many parents would be willing to pay a premium for an e-book that allowed their children to easily have a word defined or pronounced, and that would be updated to correct errors and reflect changes in the scientific and political realms. No more science books that say there is no water on the moon, nor textbooks in use that still show Czechoslovakia as a single country! Even the next South Sudan could show up on a map as soon as it establishes its independence.

I don't think it's too much to ask for such things in a country as advanced as the U.S. Consider what is happening in South Korea.

According to the Program for International Student Assessment, South Korea is already far ahead of the U.S. in school performance. This gap will widen, in part because South Korean public policy will soon mandate pervasive use of electronic textbooks in public schools. By 2015, every South Korean student will get the most up-to-date textbooks and have access to these texts every day and night, all while saving their schools the cost of having to print, store and distribute print books that can quickly become obsolete. This will be true even in impoverished rural areas, and not just the posh Gangnam district of Seoul.

How do we compare with that? I live in an affluent school district, and none of that is available or even possible. How do you think things are going in less well-to-do districts?