Apple launches interactive textbook program


Despite the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Apple hasn’t given up the idea of throwing major unveiling events. With the advent of the iPad, the company has once again gone above and beyond to push their new product into the hands of eager teachers and students.

The latest product rollout is a three fold approach to bringing Apple’s 21st century brand of educational technology into the classroom. In what is a move hauntingly similar to when Apple gave the masses iTunes, iBooks 2 is an approach to educational textbooks that could lessen the need for voluminous backpack filling weights lugged around by students. The program is an expansion of an already growing trend. With iPads already used extensively in the classroom by many students, nearly 20,000 different apps currently exist that are educationally focused.

With partnerships in the publishing arena of Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, noted textbook manufacturers, iBooks 2 is poised to become the one stop shop for students at all levels of education. Not just content to corner the market in professionally published textbooks, Apple is also rolling out a new program that will put the power of publishing in the hands of teachers in the classroom.

 iBooks Author will be a new program that will allow teachers to create their own textbooks. The highlights of the program are that first of all, it’s a free program that will allow even the most neophyte computer users to create interactive programs to keep students interested. The program will allow users to drag and drop photos and Microsoft Word documents into a program. For those that are Mac users, who take advantage of Apple’s powerpoint equivalent, Keynote, there will be options to insert presentations as widgets to add to the interactivity of the user created books. The books themselves will have to go through the same app approval process that normal developers have to go through. Writers will also be able to offer their creations for free up to the price of $14.99—a far cry from the average price of a textbook, which is slightly more than $80.

Apple’s last prong in the educational package offered is an expansion of iTunes U. Until now, the program has been a successful way for teachers to offer podcasts of lectures. Now, the program will have its own app and will expand into a more multimedia platform. The program will feature areas where teachers will be able to post things like syllabi, a bio on them, a course description and much more. Those that use the service will also notice that the program will open up their downloaded textbook to the appropriate page that accompanies the podcast lecture.

Suffice to say, with this new system, Apple hopes to revolutionize the way teachers, students and publishers alike approach the educational process. If successful, the educational suite of programs could potentially revolutionize the way students learn in classrooms throughout the U.S.