Tech Beat: App company wants school districts to use tablets as free textbook libraries
The company Net Texts is offering a new solution that may help bolster the argument that tablets like iPads should completely replace paper books in schools. YNN's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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Apple is trying to lead the way to replace paper textbooks with digital texts with its iBooks Textbooks. But a new company called Net Texts is hoping to compete with the tech giant by offering up a free iPad app that serves up an entire virtual bookstore where every single textbook is also free.
"All the content we use is based on open educational resources, which are digital materials which can be freely used and shared among teachers and other institutions. We have almost 20,000 resources which have been vetted and tailored for grades 6-12, as well as some university material," says Prasant Varghese of Net-Texts.com. With the iBooks store that Apple has it's mostly a publisher-oriented environment. For us it's really about the teacher being able to create their own course content for the students
While some make think it doesn't make sense to put an iPad in a child's hand instead of an actual book, one superintendent whose schools are using this system says using iPads makes financial sense.
"It's fun, it helps teachers to teach and not have textbooks teach, and third it's a great aggregator and organizer of lesson plans," says Superintendent John Eriksen of the Diocese of Paterson, N.J. "We on average spend about $200 a year per student on textbooks. If you multiply that for three years, you're looking at $600, $650. If you use an iPad2, it's $399, so right there you're already saving $200, $250."
Some of Eriksen's schools in Paterson, N.J., as well as a handful in Atlanta having been taking part this school year in a pilot project using only iPads with Net Texts.
Net Texts is not the only service for finding free textbooks, it is simply trying to organize them all in a way that's easy for schools to use them.
Incidentally, the company hopes to eventually make money through consulting fees, if and when entire school districts get onboard and need help crafting large-scale use.