The 10 Most Common Teacher Complaints Against iBooks

Guest Post by Kaitlyn Cole


The recently announced update to Apple’s iBooks app has been lauded as an incredible change for education,
reinventing the textbook as we know it, and allowing teachers to become content
creators like never before. The upgraded app has its fair share of fans, but
there are many teachers who just aren’t buying the hype. Common complaints
include the cost of investment, closed software, and even the idea that
students are in need of a bigger change than just multimedia books. Read on,
and we’ll expand on some of the biggest problems teachers are finding with the
new iBooks app.


1. The idea that public schools can afford iPads is
To iBooks many teachers are saying, in much kinder words, “Are you freaking serious? We have to
make kids buy their own hand sanitizer. How are we supposed to find room
in the budget for iPads?” But seriously, even though the books
seem to be a steal at $14.99 or less, the hardware is the killer here.
Plenty of schools are laying off teachers because they can’t pay them, so
it’s laughable to think they might be able to find million dollar budgets
with which they can purchase textbooks. According to CNET, a small
school of just 700 students would need a grant of $350,000 just to buy
iPads, and in order to fill those iPads with all the necessary books, it
would be more like half a million dollars.

2. iPads are entirely too fragile for public schools:

Even if schools can somehow find a way to afford
iPads for their students, can we realistically believe that students can
handle such a fragile device? Even with Gorilla Glass, iPads and other
similar consumer electronics are simply too easy to break, a scary thought
when distributing them to the masses of young students. Even under close
supervision, there’s always the very real possibility that iPads will get
dropped or similarly abused, leading to costly repairs and replacement.
One reviewer wonders if schools will have to employ maintenance
technicians tasked solely with the purpose of fixing broken down iPads, a
need that’s already sparked a growing industry.


3. Students today need more than textbooks: Others say that what students need today can’t be
found in a textbook, even if it is digitally fancied up. Critics argue
that textbooks are not the center of the learning experience, and that the
millions of dollars school districts might spend on iPads and iBooks would
be much better spent on creating a more interactive learning environment
away from the screen.

4. Unless students own an iPad, books can’t go home:

As many schools can’t afford an iPad for every single
student, we’ll likely see school districts purchasing shared iPads that
stay at school. That means the iBooks that live in the iPad will also stay
at school, posing a problem when students need to use their textbooks for
studying or homework away from school. The same multimedia and text
content that makes iBooks so great is simply not available for home
computers, and unless students also have access to an iPad at home,
they’re not going to be able to use that content away from school.

5. iPads can’t hold all the books students need:

It’s safe to assume that most schools will be happy
just to afford 16GB iPads for their students, but the reality is that for
iBooks to replace textbooks, it’s likely they’ll need to spring for the
32GB model. One teacher points out that with most books coming in at 1 to
2 GB each, a 16 GB will hold eight books and nothing else. That means
students may not be able to fit all of the books they need for school on
one device, and they won’t be able to take advantage of educational apps on
their iPads, either.


6. iPads can get stolen:

So let’s assume that schools can afford iPads for
every student to use and take home, fill them with all the iBooks
necessary for learning, and even pick up a kid-proof cover that will
protect this precious device. iPads are a hot commodity outside of
education. People have a fervent desire to own one, sometimes by any means
possible, and devices like the iPad are ripe for theft. Twenty-pound
textbooks are not at all attractive for thieves, but if word gets out that
students walking home from a certain school are likely to have an iPad in
their possession, teachers worry that they may be a target for violence
and robbery.

7. iBooks are not at all cross-platform:

Apple has to make money, no one is begrudging them
that. But teachers are a little miffed that they can’t take purchase
iBooks off of the iPad platform. That means limited access to books that
schools pay for, and an inability to have printed pages when the need for
such a thing comes up in the classroom. While teachers are excited for
digital textbooks, many feel that iBooks are not the answer, and instead
seek a more open platform for information.

8.Paid content is often embedded:

Teachers are quite worried that they may be presented
with a challenge that technology-loving parents know all too well: the
possibility of purchases made from inside textbooks and apps. Students may
not realize that clicking certain links or downloading content can result
in a big bill, and it’s not clear what can be done to prevent this from

9. No one really cares about interactive multimedia:

This does sound a little strange in a time when
educators are practically foaming at the mouth for social media,
iEducation, and even computer gaming in schools, but interactive media isn’t
always the answer for learning. Some have pointed out that interactive
textbooks are not at all a new thing: who doesn’t remember college
textbooks that came with interactive extras on CD-ROMs no one even
bothered to open? Teachers say that students don’t need more animations
and cool tricks in their books, they need access to active learning
opportunities and collaborative education.

10.Students need to find better content, not more content:

With iBooks, teachers argue that Apple is not
introducing content that isn’t already out there. News Flash: Teachers
have the Internet. It’s not at all difficult to curate interactive
learning resources and share them with students, but it is often difficult
to find the right content among everything that’s out there. Teachers
don’t necessarily have a problem with iBooks offering new resources for
learning, but they do worry that this is only contributing to the already
overwhelming options for digital learning, while not taking into
consideration the need to discover higher-quality educational content.

Kaitlyn Cole is a freelance writer for onlineuniversities.  She
writes Education, Book, Business related articles.

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