Aspey, S. (2011) Pearson and the Eminata Group Launch North America’s Largest iPad-Based eTextbooks Initiative for Postsecondary Institutions PRWeb, August 29

This announcement about a partnership between Eminata, a commercial company running career colleges in Canada and the large international publisher, Pearson, caught my eye. All the students’ text books for these colleges will now be available on the iPad, through Pearson’s  eText for iPad app, which:

presents digital content in the same high resolution as on a computer, even when pages are zoomed, and displays perfect fidelity to the print book. Students can easily add their own personalization (notes, highlights, bookmarks) while working on their iPads and then access it later on their Mac or PC.

This is the kind of technology that makes e-readers useful for students. Although students still have to pay for the iPad (and their courses), there are large savings to be made on texts over a whole program. The limitation of this kind of agreement though is that it locks a college into just one publisher, who can still control the price of the e-books. Eventually, at least public colleges will be looking for solutions that enable texts to be sourced from any publisher (such as the Kobo e-reader) – or will Apple now attempt to take on Google in providing access to all the world’s books via its iPad and iTunes?

In the end, what higher education wants is a solution that provides standardized technical access to e-texts, specially designed texts that exploit the affordances of digital technology (such as hyperlinks, video clips and animations, online activities and the ability of students to mix and mash, so they can ‘customize’ their learning), and all texts available on demand for a low price. Anyone out there up to this?

In the end, I think we will end up with a form of academic publishing that is quite different from the standard text, much more ‘bitty’ and chunkable,  although there was always be a need for the occasional ‘blockbuster’ that pulls a lot of things together. Once again, the medium is the message.

(Thanks to Inside Higher Education for directing me to this news release)


  1. I would love to see working models of schools using iPads effectively. Although I don’t think technology in this way directly improves learning and should ever replace current successful methods. I do think it will help with the motivation factor and make task more suited to the current learning generation, which would then have the knock on effect of improved learning.

  2. The versatility of these devices are certainly negated by their cost. Fortunaely, there are cheaper tablets on the market but still too expensive for most schools. I don’t foresee them replacing textbooks anytime during my youngest child’s school years but a father can wish.


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