This private university in Florida has jumped on the digital textbook bandwagon. Starting next week Lynn University will issue iPad Minis to the incoming freshman class. A total of 600 students are expected to embark on their academic careers at Lynn next week, and they will all be using digital textbooks, apps, and iTunes Universe for their core curriculum.
The university is in a unique position to take this step because their core textbooks, the Dialogues of Learning, was developed at the university. The school holds the rights, and that makes it possible to pass along the digital textbook version at a reduced cost (not counting the $43,000 a year tuition).
The program builds on a pilot program that the school ran during the 2012/2013 school year. The iPad Minis will cost each student $475, and that includes a free upgrade to a new iPad Mini in the student's junior year. That price tag is expected to save students about 50% of their textbook costs, which leads me to wonder exactly how much the university was overcharging for textbooks.
This is a relatively small program when compared to the Steve Jobs Schools in the Netherlands or the 655 thousand iPads that the Los Angeles School District is going to buy over the next few years, but it still represents a victory for Apple.
Lynn University is an example of how, even though Apple lost the anti-trust settlement, they still got what they wanted all along. iBooks was never about the content; it was about getting iPads into schools - over 8 million of them as of February 2013.
Apple has managed to convince schools districts and universities across the US and around the world that iPads are the panacea of education, even though:
There is no body of evidence that iPads will increase math and reading scores on state standardized tests. There is no evidence that students using iPads (or laptops or desktop computers) will get decent paying jobs after graduation. These are the most common reasons boards of education and school administrators across the nation give for buying tablets for K-12 students.
If I were Apple I would be privately celebrating while publicly protesting the anti-trust settlement. After all, they've got exactly what they wanted.
P.S. In fact, if you accept that Apple was always interested in the hardware sales then it raises the question of exactly why they let the case go to trial.