Textbooks to iPad/Smartpad Format: App Tyranny

With Apple rushing to take market leadership in centralizing learning apps for eventual textbook replacement, there’s still a long way to go in delivering the experience of analog textbooks. Sure, usability is slick and in many ways the dissemination of information is truly revolutionary against the staid squalor of a five pound book(s), but there exists a large gap in what options a user has in jumping from textbook to textbook for comparative study.

Analog textbooks allow for the student to dictate the method, channel and pace during study, which is crucial for invoking an independent interaction with the source material. Textbook apps don’t demand independent thought in the same way, as they lead the user to referential material, much in the same way semantic search technology leads users.  This is hardly an independent and associative process.

If textbook publishers and educators truly have the incentive to challenge students within textbook apps, this will be an important gap to cover; there’s a slippery slope of directing user behavior — already a strong trend in all apps — and the result is closed-system thought.

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