Apple Goes Back To School

January 21, 2012 — 2 Comments

Apple has always been a company that was heavily involved in education, but now they have taken it to the next level.  Thursday, Apple introduced two initiatives that attempts to entrench the iPad even deeper into education.  During the press conference Apple executives announced iBooks 2, which is now optimized to read text books on your iPad.  In addition to iBooks, they announced, iBook Author, which allows you to create these text books on your Mac computer.  Both apps are free and are available in their respective App Store.

The new iBook textbooks are interactive, allowing for a full multimedia, engaging experience for the student.

Students will now experience the most amazing textbooks they’ve ever read. They can flip through a book by sliding their finger along thumbnail images of the pages. If they don’t know the definition of a word, one tap takes them to a glossary or dictionary. No longer limited to a single picture to illustrate the text, now students can flick through a gorgeous photo gallery or dive into an image with interactive captions. They can use a finger to rotate a 3D object to show a human brain from every angle, or have the answer spring to life in an interactive chapter review. 

In addition, Apple also announced that it was expanding its iTunes U lecture series into an app that is available from the iTunes App Store.  This application will take and make the iTunes U classes and make them available on the iPad.

With the iTunes U app, students can carry everything they need for the course wherever they go. They can listen to lectures, read new iBooks textbooks, watch videos, and stay on top of assignments. And when you post an update or send a message to your class, they receive a push notification with the new information.

But you do not have to be a student to benefit from the iTunes U information.  There are over 500,000 free lectures, books, videos on a multitude of topics.  All you have to do is download the iTunes U app on your iPad and start learning.

Since I have two children in college right now, I can appreciate anything that makes textbooks less expensive and helps students with their studies.  So these announcements were great news, but I really think that the biggest part of this announcement is the release of the iBook Author program.  This program makes it easy to create your textbook on your mac.

The iBook Author program is a large download, but once you get it downloaded it makes publishing a textbook on iBookstore as simple as drag and dropping your information into a template.  There are several templates to choose from and once you do you are taken to the layout editor where creating your book is a fairly painless process.  Once you have your book complete (or even before if you like), you can preview the book on your connected iPad with a single click.  And when it is time to go public, just select the Publish button and you are off and running.  You can download iBook Author by checking the Mac App Store on your Mac.

I know you are wondering why in the world I would like to publish a textbook.  Well don’t get too concerned, I know I’m not smarter than a 5th grader, so I will not be publishing textbooks.  But did you know that in less than 2 minutes you can sign up with Apple for a Free Content Provider account.  This means that you can publish books to iTunes yourself.  You have to pay for an account that allows you to sell your material, but you can easily upgrade to the paid account at a later date if you determine that you can make your fortune selling your writing.

In the meantime, if you have something to say and have always wanted to get it published so you could share it with the world, you need to look into iBook Author and it’s accompanying Free Content Provider iTunes account.  I haven’t walked all the way through the process yet (mainly because I don’t have anything to say) but so far it looks simple enough that you might want to check it out.

Do you have a  literary masterpiece you have been itching to self-publish?

2 responses to Apple Goes Back To School

  1. I am very impressed with iBooks Author until it comes to the license agreement. Suppose I invest a lot of time creating a book and Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decides it is not worthy of publishing in their store. What than? Why should I invest my time in something only to be locked in with no alternatives but to rip my hard work out of one format and put it into another?

    • That is a good point. I had not thought about that. But I do suppose that one would use this in addition to any other self-publishing methods they were going to use… If you only rely on the textbook creator and submit only to Apple you will limit your market. But then again, the Apple method is completely free unless you decide to charge for your publication.

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