Innovating education with technology.
Apple today announced the new version of IBooks aimed at revolutionizing the way we distribute content in schools. According to Apple, there are currently 1.5 million iPads being used in schools throughout the USA and the new version of iBooks is being created as a mechanism for delivering interactive textbooks to those users. With the aid of a free authoring program, publishers and individuals will be able to easily create educational content for distribution through the iTunes store.
The textbooks will have a ceiling price of $15, potentially saving buyers hundreds of dollars over traditional textbooks. According to Apple, schools will be able to buy the books for its students and issue redemption codes for students to download them.
Apple has announced iBooks Author, an OS X application for creating any type of ebook. A range of templates are available to get you started. Authors fill in text, video, audio, keynote slides and more - simply dropping them into place. iBooks Author is available free download in the Mac App Store
It would have been nice to see some additional features...
- The fact that the textbooks only work on iPads is a serious drawback. I can only imagine that they will be expanded to other platforms in the future - especially MacBooks and Air.
- One important trend that is developing is "social reading" - the ability to connect with other readers of the book. Readers can post comments, share annotations, ask questions and get answers. Your "network" can be limited to your teacher and immediate classmates or open to any of your online friends. The addition of social networking features to iBooks would have been a real boon for education.
- I didn't notice any mention of translations or the ability to adjust reading levels, although that might have been ambitious for a first release.
- Am I the only one that feels a little uncomfortable with the thought that Apple will have control and approval rights over any and all textbooks that become available through the iTunes store?
According to their user agreement, anything created in Apple's iBook Author software can only be sold through Apple's iTunes store. Apple owns the rights to sell it.
Every journey has to start with a single, first step... but I sense we still have a way to go.