iBooks replace text books

  • iBooks replace textbooks

The days of lugging enormous textbooks from class to class could be on the way out. 

Unitec has become the first New Zealand tertiary institute to use iPads to deliver tailored course literature electronically.

To make study easier and more efficient for those at the start of their Bachelor of Business degrees, lecturer James Oldfield has ditched the books and gone digital in what could be a test case for other departments.

By replacing hefty textbooks with tablets loaded with relevant course information, Oldfield says first year students taking accounting and finance and marketing and management papers get just what they need.

It's a move he says is necessary as technology becomes increasingly central to business, but is an area where tertiary institutes are lagging behind.

"The use of consumer technology is enabling significant innovation in both business and education practice," he says.

"Many primary and secondary schools are now taking advantage of student owned devices, such as smart phones and tablets.

"Meanwhile most tertiary institutions are failing to capitalise on the advantages that Bring Your Own Device can bring. Those of us providing tertiary education need to be aware that the expectations of future students and businesses will change rapidly and we need to be prepared to change with them."

Instead of purchasing a series of expensive books students access tailored course literature on a tablet.

"In the first four courses we have created a series of multi-touch textbooks using iBooks Author that they get for free so they are no longer required to buy text books," Oldfield says.

"We never need the whole book anyway."

Students need an iPad of their own and to get everyone up and running a deal between Unitec and JB Hi-Fi allowed them to get a discounted package. It worked out that the money saved on books would cover the basic package.

Oldfield says equity in education is vital and those in real need were able to borrow an iPad.

"We wanted to make sure all students coming to class have this stuff and now every student has one.

"To get to that point for those who couldn't make it happen we did a loan out."

Oldfield says while the programme is limited to just the first year courses now, as students advance through their studies and e-publishing becomes more widespread the devices could be used across other courses.

This will allow them to build a library of highly relevant resource material they can easily refer back to.

"We also have big books of accounting and legislation that are available on PDF for free."

The tablets also have other helpful tools and can be used as calculators or for presentations. When Unitec students buy their iPads they can get access to a range of apps for free including Pages, Keynote, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

The move has gone down well with students who say the devices are a good step.

"I find it good, it's a good way of learning," Simon Seiler-Bailey says.

"You have all the information in front of you and stored. It's better than carrying around five books, that's for sure."

He says the information in the e-books is clear and well directed, and includes video and audio material as well.

Oldfield says books will always have a place in tertiary education but there is ample room for other technologies too.