by Andile Ndlovu

Turning the page on education

Technology has redefined the classroom and the way students learn

South Africa catches onto iPad education benefits
The iPad will soon become a much required study tool

The textbook saga might soon become a thing of the past but those students in rural areas who cannot afford an iPad, will have to wait a little while longer.

ZA Books was launched by the Core Group, which distributes Apple products in South Africa, and by 14 local publishers. The intention is to allow academics to buy curriculum-approved textbooks.

So, instead of breaking your back with a heavy backpack, pupils can simply use touchscreen technology to read and learn.

There are bound to be different schools of thought - some will argue that technology in the classroom is a distraction, whereas others will argue that it is friendlier and more interactive.

The ZABooks.co.za website says the store carries textbooks for pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 12, in public or private schools. Downloading the app for the books is free too. The catch? It's only available for the iPad.

If you're thinking that an iPhone will do - it won't. The app will not download unless you have an iOS 6 operating system or above.

The good news? It appears that buying some of the books on the ZA Books site will work out cheaper than the paperback versions.

For example, one of the prescribed English books for Grade 11s at Hyde Park High School, northern Johannesburg, is F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

The study guide for the book costs R110 at Adams and Griggs book store, but it goes for R87.16 on ZA Books.

Core Group said yesterday that more titles would be added. So far, 600 titles in six languages are available. Schools are invited to create accounts on the site but individuals are also able to use it.

Spokesman for the Core Group Kirsten Wiggill said that because the digital store was launched only recently, it would be premature to predict the responses of schools.

"At this stage we cannot comment on sales or what schools are going to be using the app. However, the interest from schools attending the launch was overwhelming."

Schools that were part of the launch included Northcliff High, St Alban's College, St Mary's School, Redhill Preparatory School and Rivonia Primary.

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