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Friday, January 20, 2012

Educators hope Apple's textbook foray will begin a "learning revolution" by Chris Foresman

Photo: Chris Foresman
Chris Foresman writes, "On Thursday morning, Apple announced a series of related initiatives designed to modernize learning based around its iPad tablet. Apple is hoping to "reinvent textbooks" and change the way we learn with an updated iBooks 2 app, which works with interactive textbooks built with the iBooks Author desktop app, and an expansion of iTunes U that offers course materials and K-12 access. And according to several experts we spoke to, Apple's announcement today could do just that."

Several educators were particularly bullish on the impact that Apple's move into the digital textbook market will have on both teaching and learning. Assistant Professor of Arts, Media, and Design at Boston's Northeastern University Matthew Gray told Ars that iBooks 2 and iBooks Author will be a "fantastic" improvement over what's commonly used in universities now.

Photo: Ars Technica

"A pivotal year for students"
"Personally, I love this development" Gray said. "What was funny to me was the continuous emphasis on the word 'book.' But what Apple's new technology says to me, however, is 'syllabus.' This new kind of ebook acknowledges that we all can Google things, and therefore education needs something to bridge 'fixed' knowledge and 'fluid' delivery systems for knowledge. An e-book can use its unique referencing ability to link a far wider resource library to students."

Abilene Christian Univeristy's director of educational innovation, Dr. William Rankin, also believes Apple's digital textbooks and iTunes U expansion will have a major transformative effect. "Teachers no longer have to have an IT department, digital infrastructure, or really even buy-in from their school," Rankin told Ars. "Apps, notes, syllabi, textbooks—they all integrate. As long as I can get iPads for my students, I can do it all."

Source: Ars Technica