Apple education event

blogEntryThumbnailToday, Apple held an education event where three announcements were made: 1) An updated iBooks app for reinventing the textbook, 2) A brand new app called iBooks Author for anyone to easily create interactive books, and 3) An updated iTunes U for making it free and simple for anyone to take courses anywhere. I followed the event via live blogging on Engadget, and I’m going to summarize the first two announcements:

1) iBooks app for reinventing the textbook
The first announcement is regarding iBooks for reinventing the textbook. As students are beginning to use iPads, there are remarkable things happening. But, there are challenges in education including increased class sizes and reduced budgets. Nonetheless, Apple wants to help accelerate the use of iPads in education and make it even easier to integrate the iPad into the curriculum. They plan to do this for textbooks because they understand the problems with textbooks. Textbooks are heavy, they're expensive, they wear out, and they’re not durable, interactive, searchable, or updatable. The iPad, however, is portable, more durable than paper, interactive, searchable, and current. And, until now, the main obstacle for the iPad as a textbook is the lack of content. Fortunately, the main textbook companies including Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have joined forces with Apple to create interactive textbooks that look great and are aggressively priced at $14.99 or less. As many of you know, textbooks can traditionally be very expensive, so $14.99 is quite a bargain. The major textbook companies are launching high school textbooks first for math and science. And, I can confirm there are titles available as of today. Just download the free iBooks app, then go to the iBooks store and download the free samples or the full books.

2) iBooks Author app for anyone to easily create free interactive books
The second announcement is regarding iBooks Author for anyone to easily create interactive books. Apple wants everyone to have the opportunity to create their own interactive books (not just the textbook companies), so there will be more book content available. Any Mac owner will be able to create interactive books using a Mac app called iBooks Author. This app is available for free today and is compatible with OS 10.7, Lion (if you don’t have 10.7, you must update your operating system in order to use the iBooks Author app). Traditionally, it’s hard to create books, but Apple is hoping to change that with iBooks Author. A number of templates are included in the app that can be used to help people get started. You’re able to use templates that include text (from a word processing file such as Word), photo, and video placeholders. You can also create cool interactions, but it appears you’ll need to know how to write code in Javascript and HTML. Before you finish your book, you can utilize an easy to create glossary tool. Finally, you’re easily able to do a preview on the iPad and then submit to the iBooks store for publishing.

Apple ended the education event by discussing research showing that student achievement is largely based on student engagement. It looks like Apple is going to facilitate student engagement with their two iBooks initiatives. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.