Apple is a fantastic enabler. It enabled thousands of developers to create great apps. It now will enable book publishers to create great educational books.
Anyone with children around him knows the power of attraction an iPad (or tablet?) has a on them. Porting books to iPad is the best thing that can happen to education since the creation of books.
But that is not the most critical one.
I have no idea how a kid can just *focus* on reading with an iPad in his hands. There are just too many great temptations: movies, games, social networks. 1 tap away.
This is worse than computers because they will be everywhere you want to be: at home, at school, on your way to school and even during classes.
Kids are suffering more and more of attention disorder because they love to stay "on" all the time. And the iPad is a source of distraction. Yes, i know apps are full screen, but it is easy to switch to something else.
The only way an iPad can become a good education tool is by enabling it with what i call "focus features". Locking the device out of temptation is critical. But this is not possible today
Don't expect kids to self discipline themselves. this won t happen. ever.
What is missing is an administration function that can lock the access to all or most apps. For example between 6pm and 8pm only those apps or books should be used. At school there should be the equivalent or Airplane mode: the "At school" mode that only allows school related app
Unless this happens: books on iPad will be as efficient, as..the "national geographic" TV channel to teach kids what animals are all about - HBO is only one button away. They will remain only a nice add on and won t become a subtitute.
For this to happen, Apple and tablet manufacturers have to enable a new type of access mode to apps. They have to enable more than just content creation: they have to enable "focus" and "attention"
I am certain this will happen at some point.