The math on the iPad for k-12 students simply doesn't line up. Assuming that an iPad in daily use for k-12 students will last two years before requiring serious repair, we are looking at the following financial model:
- $500 for a base model iPad
- $15 per book
- Assume at least 7 books per year (many schools use two books for one subject)
That's a total cost of $710 for two years of k-12 education. This is an equivalent cost of $50 per book. And ibooks cannot be passed on to younger siblings or the next grade of students.
In eighth grade I earned extra credit by stocking the book room. This not only earned me credit, but got me and four of my friends out of class for the last week of school. While making book forts, shooting rubber bands and doing inventory, we learned that the average book was in circulation for about 5 years.
Higher Ed Is DifferentIf we were to compare these two models, the analog books could run as high as $253 per book before the iPad/iBook platform would be financially favorable for schools and families. I do not know of any educational books for k-12 that cost $253.
In college, my average textbook (granted, I was a business and not a science major) was somewhere around $120 with an average resale value of about %50. This was only 10 years ago, and prices are still pretty similar. If college textbooks will really only cost $15, then the numbers work out favorably towards going the iPad route.
I very much appreciate that there is an incredible amount of value in interactive learning and up-to-date textbooks. But I don't think that this value is strong enough to offset the significant financial strain this would impose on most k-12 students, schools and municipalities.
Apple will need to deliver either a leasing with insurance model to provide a longer lifespan, or a bulk-educational discount program. Otherwise, it will be a while before we see iPads in most k-12 schools.