During a very early presentation this morning (at least for those of us on the Left Coast), Apple Inc. launched a very impressive new eLearning initiative with the iPad at its core. First off this morning, Apple launched a revision to their iBooks application that features truly interactive textbooks. Granted, eTextbooks with limited interactive features are already available from companies like Kno, Inkling, and Amazon, so that announcement might not seem all that earth shattering, but what is truly revolutionary is that Apple has developed an easy-to-use tool to create engaging interactive eTextbooks. It leverages tools many Apple aficionados are already pretty familiar with – Pages, Keynote, and Word – so the learning curve is very low. It”s called iBooks Author, and even more surprising, this new software tool is completely free!
This completely changes the game in the textbook publishing industry. Now anyone from a sole individual to a large traditional publisher like Pearson or McGraw Hill can create media-rich texts without any special knowledge of computer programming. And, much like Apps on the iTunes store, eBook creators can update their content whenever necessary to keep things fresh and new – when was the last time a textbook you read was able to do that?
Then, there”s the price. While this may change in the future, right now Apple is capping the price of all textbooks sold through the iBookstore at $14.99! $14.99 for a rich media experience that is arguably better than static text, images, and charts one gets with a $100 textbook? That”s a steal! And it”s only a matter of time before someone releases something truly great completely gratis (in fact, if you have an iPad, check out the eTextb00k version of E.O. Wilson”s Life on Earth, currently free on the iBookstore). Personally, if I were a traditional textbook publisher, I would be shaking in my boots right about now.
Now, obviously there are a lot of barriers here before wide adoption of this technology takes place, the price of the iPad itself for one, but in a few years when a low-model iPad is around $99 (with price drops in technology, all tablets will probably start around this price in a few short years), market penetration will explode!
In other Apple news, the company also released a new version of iTunes U, which makes it easy for instructors to create an entire digital curriculum made up of texts, educational apps, audio and video podcasts, assignments, and a syllabus. In other words, Apple has officially created the world”s first LMS (learning management system) for mobile devices.
Apple has a long history of educational initiatives, and while they have moved away from that in recent years, it already seems like Apple”s latest venture into this space will be a truly marvelous one. Hit up the links below for more information.
- Engadget Video Demonstrating iBooks 2 Textbooks
- Apple Promotional Video
- Apple iBooks Author Gallery (shows the types of content that can be included)
- Macworld First Impressions on iBooks Author
- The iTunes U App
- Ars Technica Hands On with the new iTunes U App
What do you think of everything Apple announced today? Let us know in the comments!