Educators Weigh E-Textbook Cost Comparisons
Education Week – Jason Tomassini
Proponents of digital textbooks say they save school districts money, even when factoring in the costs of tablets. Independent observers have moved to debunk some of the cost-saving estimates for digital textbooks. Even Peter Cohen, the chief executive officer of U.S. curriculum for Pearson, a Digital Textbook Collaborative member, acknowledged that upfront costs for moving to digital content are prohibitive for many districts. “When you add up the cost of your mobile device, the cost of your bandwidth, the cost of your digital programs, the cost of your whiteboards, the cost of your professional development, et cetera, you’re going to spend more money on an annual basis than we spend for paper,” Mr. Cohen said in an interview. “Paper is pretty darn cheap, and it lasts for seven years.” Yet many educators note that most tablets provide more education content—apps, educational gaming, multimedia viewing, and editing—than just textbooks. The iPad textbooks themselves also feature animation, note-taking capabilities, and built-in assessment tools.