January 29, 2010

Apple iPad will change the nursing textbook business

The announcement of Apple's iPad has been widely discussed this week. While it is unclear how successful the iPad will be nurse educators should begin to consider how it may be used in teaching and learning. The iPad is basically a large iPod Touch. With its larger 9.7" diagonal screen it offers much more room for reading.

A shortcoming of the iPod Touch and iPhone for students is difficulty in using them as e-readers. The iPad takes the e-reader concept pioneered by the Amazon Kindle and brings it new Apple shine. Full color, high-resolution, and even a three-dimensional look to pages make the iPad the first device that could replace a paper textbook. Students who have all their text in the iPad can have their whole library with them, but without the sore back from carrying large texts.

I quizzed my clinical group about their interest in have such as device to carry their books. Nearly all of them thought it would be great. They want books that have highlighting, bookmarking, and automatic updating. They tell me that they often have to drag their books to quiet places to study and would welcome something so portable.

So for nurse educators, we need to keep talking with publishers about their plans for a digital version of their textbooks. A big advantage for publisher is that they can inexpensively distribute evaluation copies of their texts. Nursing departments should invest in a least one iPad and test it out as books become available.