Today Apple released several products aimed at education. They released the updated version of iBooks that allows for using multi-gesture, highlighting, and note taking with-in an iBook. The release also supports multi-media book formats so that photos, videos, animations, interactive questions and flashcards can be used. Apple has partnered up with several of the major textbook publishers to bring textbooks with all these features to the public. They are making the pricing affordable and making it easier for students and learning institutions to have access to up to date information.
But as Apple tends to do, they went even further. They created and have made available free to the public, iBooks Author. It is an application for Lion (10.7) operating system. It allows anyone to take their documents, books, presentations and put them together in book format. It has built-in themes and the ability to add all the new features of iBooks. Once finished an author can publish the book to iTunes U (within their institution), view in iBooks on their iPad, and submit it to the iBooks store.
Apple also released an iTunes U app that allows educations to build content and interact with students.
I work in a middle school, I have friends who teach at the university level, and know many home schooling families. Apple’s releases today excite me. I think of students caring one iPad rather than huge (out of date) books. I think of the schools, students, and parents paying less for books. I think of they ways that information can now be taught in multiple ways within one place.
There are challenges. The first is getting school boards, school districts, and universities to move to interactive curriculum quickly. They will have to see spending money on iPads and then smaller amounts text books down the road. A major hurdle is on Apple’s shoulders. They HAVE to give education institutions and staff who are buying for themselves discounts. Apple currently gives NO DISCOUNTS to education institutions or staff purchasing iPads. It costs Apple $200 – $300 to make the iPad 2. But they charge $499. These are just a few of the challenges.
I am optimistic about the ways that students and educators can learn and grow using this new set of technology tools.
iBooks Textbooks video http://www.apple.com/education/#video-textbooks