School Yourself publishes first interactive iPad trigonometry textbook, says iPad technology provides more immersed learning experience for students
May 23, 2012
– Zach Wissner-Gross, Chief Executive Officer of School Yourself, stated in a recent New York Times article that the age of hardback textbooks could begin disappearing with the launch of digital textbooks, especially when considering Apple's iBooks application. Wissner-Gross said the touch-based applications engage and challenge students in different ways than regular textbooks. York Prep, a New York-based school, agrees with this assessment and believes all information will be delivered through tablets in the future.
School Yourself has published the world's first interactive iPad trigonometry textbook. Wissner-Gross pointed out the differences between the iPad textbook and hardback textbooks. He said iPad technology has been able to "immerse students as no math texts have ever been able to do before." Ronald Stewart, headmaster at York Prep, understands the appeal of digital textbooks, even while noting significant advancements are still required when considering the conduciveness of the medium in the classroom.
"If we all had the same small machine or there was total interactivity among all the tablets out there, I could see the attraction to the system," he said. "No doubt, the battery life would need to be extended and the keyboard would need to improve. The day will come. But, at least for me, it is not here yet."
However, Stewart believes digital textbooks would help students, as hardback textbooks are often very heavy and bulky. Some of the students have trouble carrying them during the day. To make it easier on York Prep students, the school encourages parents to purchase "wheelies" instead of backpacks with straps. Wheelies can be rolled around without putting any pressure or strain on the back, shoulders or arms. York Prep students get a break in the morning to switch textbooks so they never carry books for more than three classes.
In addition to digital textbooks, The New York Times article also touched upon the role of other online technology in the classroom. At York Prep, computers are linked to projectors, a convenient tool for educators when teaching a concept to all of the students. However, there is one downside: the students pay more attention to the presentation than the teacher's words.
"For years, a representative of a famous college has started off the college guidance classes with a PowerPoint presentation," York Prep headmaster Ronald Stewart said. "This year, his flash drive was damaged and he had to just talk to the class. My wife reported that it was the best class he had given because the students watched him, his gestures, his animated expressions, and not the PowerPoint display."
York Prep takes advantage of computer-based technology in other forms. The school sends out report cards through Edline, an online computer program, and students take tests and write essays on computers whenever possible. However, some things are still easier for students to conceptualize on paper, such as edits on essays and tests.
York Prep was founded by Ronald and Jayme Stewart in New York City. The school serves students in grades 6-12 with enrollment currently at 340 students. Today, the school creates its curriculum and course offering based on the needs and abilities of its students. For more information, visit www.yorkprep.org .