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Jobs wanted free iPad textbooks, talked long-term on iPhone

updated 08:55 pm EDT, Fri October 21, 2011

Steve Jobs aimed at iPad ruling textbooks next

Steve Jobs had wanted to swing the iPad's focus to a radical approach to textbooks, another excerpt from the book revealed Friday. He told Walter Isaacson that he wanted textbook authors to produce iPad versions that would be given away for free. The rationale, the New York Times learned from the passage, was that they could possibly skip state certification and get books to students both faster and for lower prices.

"We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money," Jobs explained.

Whether or not Apple's management was going ahead with this wasn't apparent. The initiative would have likely been controversial as it might have avoided the politicization of student textbooks but also might have raised questions about honoring state guidelines.

The iPad has become popular enough in education that it's now more popular than the Mac in some primary and secondary schools, but textbooks have been largely left to the publishers. These have included aggregation in Kno's iPad app, some iBookstore titles, and individual apps. An official push on textbooks could draw significantly more attention.

As an aside, Isaacson also understood that Jobs at his final board meeting as CEO had been grilling senior VPs Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller over the long-term future of the iPhone. They supposedly showed prototypes of future models of these and possibly other Apple devices to the departing CEO. His focus was not just on what features they would have but spent a significant amount of time discussing 4G support.

It's widely believed, and has been referenced in code, that Apple will add LTE-based 4G support to the 2012 iPhone. Both AT&T and Verizon will have built out their LTE networks more substantially by the middle of next year. Apple may have even given an incentive for Sprint's LTE switch, since it wouldn't likely get WiMAX support and might have had to keep to 3G.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So long TX and CA

    Texas and California have the largest state adoptions of public school textbooks, so companies write for them. Plus, by the time textbooks are actually printed and in student hands, a significant portion is passe. This ouwl be a real solution to a real problem, and I hope someone in Apple has the stones to push it to fruition.

  1. aviamquepasa

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too much?

    I agree Apple products are great, but what is your policy with this web site? It seems like 'Apple products and the others'. I mean, it is ok, but you should write it clearly.

  1. Jeff Simpson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let's Start This

    Free on-line textbooks should simply happen anyway. Why? If on-line textbooks (OTBs) contain quality content, they will be adopted - slowly at first - but that adoption process will gain momentum as schools see the advantages. Eventually, CA and TX will be the odd states out as schools recognize the advantages.

    OTBs will be a) updated quickly to include current events; b) corrected quickly as opposed to waiting until the next six- or seven-year adoption cycle; c) free, saving in many cases over $100/book and saving districts hundreds of thousands of dollars per adoption; and d) a way to save paper and trees, keeping millions of tons of waste out of the landfills each year.

    In a web-enabled world, why are we still using the original Gutenburg model? Could OTBs become part of the new project Gutenberg?

    I am in the process of creating a free on-line Earth Science curriculum for my school district. It will contain objectives (These are VERY important and often skipped), notes, links to a) existing simulations (I'm not writing those myself), b) web pages, and c) videos, study question, and labs-activities, and sample evaluation questions. The first draft should be completed by August of 2012.

    My next OTB project will be "The Nature of Science," about the PROCESS of science, and how learning occurs through the scientific method, using the scientific method, data gathering and analysis, evaluation, publication and review. The course will be very hands-on (lab experiments every unit), very conceptual (as opposed to memorize and regurgitate) and challenging (requiring students to eventually perform their own research, "publish" their results, and go through "peer-review". It also will be fun and will challenge them to do more then memorize; they will learn to think, to question, to evaluate and these skills can be taken into their everyday lives.

    I'd like to take these two kernals (Yes, I was a Commodore-64 user.) and expand them into OTBs for the entire world.

    If you are an Earth Science or Nature of Science expert, feel free to contact me.

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