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Apple iBooks 2 Textbooks
Apple iBooks 2 Textbooks for the iPad
Apple had done it again! I knew it was just a matter of time but I didn’t expect it that quickly! Less than a month after I published my hub, http://stevelepoidevin.hubpages.com/hub/Down-with-Textbooks, Apple comes out with textbooks for the iPad along with a free app to publish them. From the first time I saw these things in the classroom, it seemed like the way to go. Now it is here. Obviously, these new iBook textbooks have been under wraps for awhile. They only had to wait until every other student had an iPad before unveiling the next part of their long term plan.
As I wrote in a recent hub, textbooks contain outdated material almost as soon as they are written. They are expensive, heavy and usually adopted by school districts for an average of five years. After that, they sit around using up valuable shelf space until they are finally dumped. They also contain static diagrams of things that would normally be fluid and exciting to see in real life.
As I look around my classrooms, I see students engaging in much more interesting activities than textbooks. Many have iPads already. Technology can make a huge difference in how students learn. Despite the fact that this has been talked about for many years, it has taken this long for something to actually be done about it. And leave it to Apple to start the bandwagon and jump on the opportunity to change the textbook to a modern digital version. The iPad they have already saturated the market with has given them the ability to make textbooks much more engaging with audio, video and interactivity built in. The information is always up-to-date and one iPad can replace 30 pounds of books.
Apple’s areas of focus when designing the new textbooks kept students in mind at all times. They have produced an ibook textbook format that provides fluid, fast navigation. This has always been a given in their products. Beautiful animation and graphics can easily be made a part of the books. And finally, they have provided students with a better, easier way to take notes and use those notes. Passages can be highlighted by just swiping over the text. Notes can be added at any point by just tapping on the text and typing. These notes are automatically saved and organized as study cards for easy access at a later time.
Finally, to complete the package, Apple has developed a publishing app to provide authors a tool for publishing these interactive textbooks. The app is provided free of charge and contains pre-designed templates to allow anyone to produce beautiful multitouch books for the iPad. They have also launched a new textbook section of the iBookstore to allow publishers to distribute textbooks directly to students. So they have provided an easy way to create them, an easy way to buy them and an incredible way to experience them.
But there are questions. The first few completed textbooks on display are incredible but will the ones to come be just as engaging? How will cash-strapped school districts supply students with iPads? Who is going to want to buy a group of $15 textbooks that are not going to be used again and probably will not be able to be passed on to others? And is proprietary the way to go? It would be nice to have the same ideas on a cross-platform system that could run on less expensive devices.
It remains to be seen how many districts will jump on the digital bandwagon. Judging from my experience, I don’t think it will happen overnight. However, the cards are now in place for a revolution in the classroom. I am excited by the prospect of what could be developed with this technology. Of course, there will be copy cats down the road, but Apple has made the first step and will probably outdistance the competition very quickly as they did with digital music. Hopefully, it will be a short period of time before we see all those antiquated textbooks replaced with interactive, digital versions in the hands of students around the globe.