February 5, 2012

The Privatisation of Education

What has hit me recently following the recent Apple announcement was the fact that everyone (well, almost) is proclaiming that the new iBooks textbook program will revolutionise education, considering the price of college textbooks to be around $200, and once establishments work a way around the $500 price tag of the iPad.

I can now say that it almost defiantly will, but there is a catch, a subtle, but one that no one has yet considered.

If the state system is not careful, education will become privatised. Who wants a nation-wide education system at the whims of a massive conglomerate or organisation? Should every student receive an iPad, Apple would control the distribution and presentation models without any input or limitations by the government.

Now, one might say this is a good idea. A lacking state education system being helped by Apple must be a good thing. It’s not though! While this program might increase test scores and class intake, Apple could easily mess everything up. Then what do you do? By new physical copies without your notes and spend multiple hundreds of dollars/pounds doing so? Well, you will have no other option, and in all likelihood, the same iPad version will not exsist physically, as the iBooks author EULA states that you may not sell your book for money outside iBooks.

So you are completely screwed, in the worse case scenario!

The relevant governmental authorities should have made an integrated system of their own that they could manage across the school districts. They missed their oportunity with physical textbooks, now already privatised, and they have just missed this opportunity.

I have no doubt that the iBooks program will be a success, being an Apple user myself, but how far are we willing to let a cooperation take complete control?

Update: I know that there were plenty of spelling mistakes initially! Hopefully they are all corrected. Just to add, this piece was written in a frenzy, should one wish to call it so, and is not my best work!