Yesterday, Apple made a series of education announcements at the Guggenheim Museum. Perhaps the largest news of the day was the unveiling of the iBooks 2 eTextbook format, designed to harness the 1.5 million iPads currently used for education (and to make it even more appealing to get more iPads into the hands of students).
There are plenty of companies vying for eTextbook dollars, but none with as much weight and digital delivery infrastructure already in place as Apple. Here’s why iBooks 2 are a wave capable of making a huge splash in higher education:
1. iBooks are significantly cheaper than physical textbooks
While the catalog is currently limited, Apple has a price cap of $14.99 on books selling in its store. Despite not having the ability to resell an eTextbook, the difference in price between iBooks and traditional paper copies is large enough to draw in more students who are looking to save on books, particularly those who either already own an iPad, or those who attend institutions with iPad initiatives.
2. Anyone can create and distribute materials through iTunes
Along with the iBooks 2 format, Apple also revealed the iBook Author application. Anyone can import existing Keynote or Word files, and it is simple to drag and drop multimedia into your iBook. For instructors who offer a great deal of material in either a coursepack or in a custom textbook, the iBook Author application will allow them to publish their book to the iTunes Store in no time, with the ability to price materials from $14.99 and under.
3. Designed for the iPad, iBooks are more engaging and interactive
Most eTextbooks to date are identical to their physical counterparts, the only difference being that the former is accessible only through laptops or other mobile devices. iBooks by nature are intended to be optimized experiences for the iPad. This means that beyond standard fare – text and still photos – videos, interactive quizzes, and other elements can supplement static material.
4. No need to worry about writing in your book
When students read an iBook, they are able to add “sticky notes” to particular pages with notes for later. They can also highlight important passages using an array of different virtual “ink” colors. This could have the effect of getting more students to “mark up” their class reading, since there is no need to worry about ink bleeding through pages, or reduced resale value from taking notes in the book.
5. A single location for all course materials
With web browsing, office suites, and a full range of apps already available for the iPad, the addition of proper textbooks provides a single location for students’ study materials. There is need to tote around multiple books, notebooks, and highlighters when everyone is contained within a single device. To this effect, Apple has updated iTunes U to also allow instructors to deliver syllabi, assignments, and information like office hours through a dedicated app.
Improve In-Class Engagement and Attentiveness Using Students’ iPads
While iBooks and iTunes U provide great platforms for after class, did you know that by engaging iPads during class, students can become more attentive and engaged? Using the LectureTools iPad App, students can take notes associated with lecture slides, respond to interactive activities, and relay comprehension difficulties to you in real-time.