Apple wants to reinvent the textbook, or at least change the way students interact with teaching materials. At an event this morning in New York City, Phil Schiller, Roger Rosner, and others from Apple unveiled new initiatives to put the iPad at the center of students’ learning experience.
More Interactive Books: iBooks 2
Apple’s eBook platform, iBooks, gets a refresh with iBooks 2. The new version of the eBook reader adds support for elements that make learning more engaging, like video and 3D animations. Annotations and pop quizzes are built-in options to help students learn better. Publishing partners already on board are Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, with books on algebra, biology, chemistry, physics, and more. DK Publishing is also on board, with four titles launching today. The cost of books will be $14.99 or less, far less than the cost of traditional textbooks.
Easier eBook Creation: iBooks Author
To compliment the new iBooks software, the company is introducing iBooks Author, software to facilitate ebook creation. There’s an emphasis on textbook creation, but the plan is that it can work with any sort of content. iBooks Author features automatic text formatting and the ability to drag and drop content from sources like Word or Keynote for much faster page layout and creation. It will also give you instant previewing of your page design on a connected iPad to make sure it’s all coming out the way you intended.
Both apps are available in the app store today, for free.
iPads in Universities: iTunes U
The second part of the education initiative involves iTunes U, Apple’s platform for delivering educational content from colleges and universities around the world. There is now a new iTunes U and a dedicated app. The app gathers materials, your notes, a syllabus, and potentially even things like instructor office hours, all in one place, with a tabbed interface. The new app is also available today, also free.
Anyone who has ever hauled around four or five heavy textbooks from class to class can see the appeal, just in reduction of that labor. Years ago, I was a teacher, and I saw that students disliked carrying books so much that they often don’t bring them to class. But kids love iPads, and putting the educational content on tablets might just make learning seem like fun rather than drudgery.