A couple of months ago, an infographic from the San Jose Mercury News detailed the cost of switching students from traditional textbooks in four core secondary school courses to two digital books through Apple’s iBooks. The graphic showed how using the iPad textbook program would cost an estimated $36,000 over four years, more than three times the amount spent for print books over a six-year stretch.
About the same time, Lee Wilson, president and CEO of PCI Education, used a graph in one of his blogs that showed the annual cost of a printed textbook per student per class was $14.26, while the iText would cost a school $71.55 per student. It’s not that Wilson was against using the technology in the classroom. He was just pointing out how unrealistic it is to think schools have the funds to implement such a program.
In a later post, Wilson noted that the actual difference in cost may actually be even higher. One reader pointed out that the lifespan of an iPad is closer to two years than four, while another questioned Wilson’s initial assumption that five books would be used by a student during a school year, saying seven or eight is much more likely.
Wilson says he would like to make the case for digital in the classroom as a powerful learning tool that is worth the cost. But he’s quick to point out that objective data on improved outcomes is only just becoming available.