Apple's announcement last week that interactive textbooks will now be available on iPads has at least one school in Beaufort County excited, while others await action from a state board before they can use the technology.
Officials at Riverview Charter School in Beaufort said the textbook apps would boost their iPad program for sixth- and seventh-graders.
Beaufort County public schools, though interested in electronic textbooks, aren't likely to replace hardback texts with the books in Apple's App Store anytime soon. That's because in order to use state money to purchase textbooks, the books must first be approved by the State Board of Education, county school district spokesman Jim Foster said.
Foster said educators districtwide want to move toward electronic textbooks because they would cost less, be easier to update and lighten students' backpacks. The district currently doesn't use any electronic textbooks.
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At Riverview Charter School, 72 sixth- and seventh-graders were given iPads to use in class and at home for the first time this school year. So far, the school has had limited access to electronic textbooks, but technology integrator Erica Freeman said Apple's Jan. 19 announcement should change that.
"We were a little surprised at the lack of e-textbooks available that were iPad compatible at the beginning of the year," Freeman said. "There weren't a lot of choices, and textbook publishing companies didn't have a lot of answers for us."
Freeman said that could be because there aren't many schools giving students iPads.
A handful of textbooks are now already available in the iBookstore for $14.99 each. A traditional textbook can cost about $80, Freeman said. The electronic textbooks can be easily updated as information changes.
The iPad textbooks integrate videos, quizzes, and 3D and interactive images. Students highlight the text by dragging their fingers on the screen over the words. Students' highlights and in-text notes are automatically compiled into study cards to help them prepare for tests.
"We were very, very excited" about the announcement, Freeman said. "It's just going to change everything with us."
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.