Friday, January 20, 2012

iBooks, Textbooks, iBooks Author and Education.

Apple have come along and changed the game again. I must admit I was quite excited about the announcement today regarding the education aspect of what they are doing - for a number of reasons.

Firstly - I was pleased to see a commitment to Education by Apple. For many years Apple seemed to be embedded in Education and the creative side of computing (with Windows taking care of corporate and personal). That seemed to all change with the introduction of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Suddenly their focus was personal items. Your iPhone, your iPad - if you can use it in the corporate or educational world - fantastic - let us know how you are doing it ? From day one, educators saw the potential of the iPad in education - but were more or less left to their own devices on how to utilise, deploy and administer them. Australia, for example is still waiting to obtain educational licensing for apps. I thought that todays announcement singled a return to at least some interest in education.

Secondly. To me the real power of the iPad was not going to be fully realised until teachers were able to construct their own apps or have a direct say in the materials that they wanted their students to use. Yes, you could construct your own apps but the skill needed was beyond most peoples ability and patience. Plus the waiting to see if it would be approved by apple.
Enter "iBook Author". This little gem will allow anybody to construct their own course material, with a minimum of fuss and deliver it directly to their students. My understanding at this stage is that you can construct your own ibook and put it through the ibook store (with apple's approval) or simply deploy it directly to any iPad under your administration. This has to be the biggest break through for educators since the iPad was introduced. iBook Author i is a "Pages" type program that allows you to construct your own ibooks including video, audio, interactive media, keynotes etc. It has the same layout as Pages - therefore is very easy for anyone familiar with iWorks to operate. Just what we have been waiting for. I also wonder if it is going to be the introduction of a new iWorks (iWorks 2012 ) ? It even has a preview - which allows you to link to your iPad or iPhone to see what the end product will look like. After trying to construct ePubs through Pages 09 - this is a very welcome feature. You need to use iBooks Author on a mac running Lion. There has been some early criticism over having to run it on a mac and the end result being only usable on the iPad (not Android) - but hey - what do you expect Apple to do !

Thirdly, related to number two, having actual book companies coming on board to construct actual text books that will be usable in the education environment. Most companies see this as a good thing and are willing to invest the time and resources into producing quality, usable texts. This was something I expected when the iPad was first released , but never really happened. It does seem that now this will finally get under way. Quite a number of publishing houses have come on board and hopefully the number will grow.

The next aspect that excited me - was that of iTunes U . I had been an extensive user of iTunes U but it always seemed like it was buried away and not often updated. I was pleased to see it now has it's own app for the iPad. It stores any podcasts you have downloaded. This elevates it's profile - therefore I will assume a lot more material will start to appear - and relative to other countries outside of the United States.

All in all an exciting day for educators. While the bulk of the population will wonder "where is the new iPad?' or "what are the new specs of the new mac pro?" - educators will be excited about todays releases (at least I am). New iBook app ; iTunes U app ; publishers on board for text book publication and iBook Author program for mac - to construct your own interactive ibook material.

Let's now see how the year pans out.

No comments:

Post a Comment