Rumor has it Apple’s media event tomorrow will have a strong education focus, something that seems even more likely with the recent iBooks 3.0 leaks. Of course, the fact that Apple is about to unveil its lowest priced iPad has also lead to talk that students and education might be the target audience during the iPad mini’s unveiling. TNW reported first that Apple’s event would focus on educational content—specifically iBooks. We have also independently heard that educational content is being prepared for tomorrow’s presentation.
Today, Bloomberg Businessweek backs up those reports by adding that “Apple executives plan to make a point of highlighting the iPad’s educational capabilities at tomorrow’s event.” The report cited sources familiar with the preparation of tomorrow’s events, and it noted that Apple has “realigned its education sales force to emphasize iPads.” While most analysts seem to agree iPad mini will help Apple continue to dominate the education tablet market, one thing they can’t agree on is price.
Following Apple’s big education announcements yesterday with the introduction of iBooks 2.0, iBooks Author, and the iTunes U iOS app, the CEO of publisher McGraw-Hill Terry McGraw —one of Apple’s partners bringing textbooks to the iBookstore— sat down withAll Things D to discuss the new partnership. When asked how long his company has been in talks with Apple, McGraw discussed meeting with Jobs:
Sitting and listening to all of this, I wish Steve Jobs was here. I was with him in June this past year, and we were talking about some of the benchmarks, and some of the things that we were trying to do together. He should be here. He probably is [gesturing up and around]. This was his vision, this was his idea, and it all had to do with the iPad.
We already learned in Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography that Jobs had his “sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform.” According to the book, Jobs’ ”idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions” for the iPad. We also knew he held meetings with major publishers, but we now know he was still working on the textbook projects until at least June.
All Things D also asked McGraw about the possibility of bringing similar content to Google’s platforms. McGraw avoided answering the question directly: Read more
With Apple’s entrance into the digital textbook space expected to take place tomorrow at its media event in New York City, a 1996 Steve Jobs interview from Wired gives us a glimpse into how the CEO viewed the potential for technology to transform education. Specifically, Jobs claimed the problems facing education were sociopolitical issues and unions, something he said “cannot be fixed with technology.” Jobs also discussed a new model for education in the interview, well over 10 years before his concept of free textbooks on iPads was revealed in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio.
Here’s an excerpt from the Wired interview:
I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.
It’s a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy.
As Wired pointed out, with Apple’s forthcoming push into education, the bureaucracies of teacher’s unions Jobs spoke of will likely be replaced with political issues facing state curriculum boards and standards requirements. According to special education policy researcher Sherman Dorn, the GarageBand for eBooks rumor could face hurdles, as Apple must meet strict standards required for technology used by federal governments (viaWired):
In the Wired interview, Jobs goes on to discuss a new model for education that would be similar to startups in the tech industry. Jobs imagined a world where parents are given a $4,400 voucher per year to pay for school. The result, “People would get out of college and say, ‘Let’s start a school.’ You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school.” Jobs explained: