Posted by: crudbasher | January 19, 2012

Thoughts on the Apple Education Announcement

(cc) wohnai

Enough had leaked out about the Apple Education event today that we knew a lot of what was presented. To sum up Apple unveiled three things. I had some thoughts about each.

1. iBooks 2. First impression: Meh.

Apple has revamped their bookstore again, this time to provide a market for nice eTextbooks. Apple likes to take technology and put it together in a polished way. What they did for eTextbooks is not rocket science. Making a multimedia rich book is not new. What Apple has going for it is an existing ecosystem to promote this. They way they can sell this is with Education technology packages to schools looking to go digital. They can sell them a package of iPads, iMacs or Macbooks for the teachers, and eTextbooks for the students. If the system works well, then they might have a winner here. However, what students have a PC at home?

Any strength can be exploited by a canny enemy. Apple’s biggest strength in this project is their closed ecosystem. This however can be a weakness because their textbooks are limited to Apple devices. What about the other devices? Apple isn’t the only game in town, and they are expensive. Watch for to move into this area soon. Kindle runs on anything… People don’t like being told their data is trapped.

2. iBooks Author. First impression: Wow!

This is what Apple does best I think. They took a process that was complicated and messy and created simple to use tools that make the process open for everyone. What this does is open the field of eTextbook authoring to anyone. This is huge! Students and teachers have been conditioned to think textbooks can only come from textbook makers. Of course this is a silly idea but it has been defacto until now. Imagine being able to chose from hundreds of multimedia textbooks on your topic. You can choose the exact right one for your teaching style or even mix and match chapters. You might even be able to have different versions of the same textbook that caters to different learning styles. The information will be constantly refreshed and very creative people will be competing against each other to try to make the most effective lessons.

The other big thing is Apple said they have capped textbook prices to $15. I wonder how that will work for college textbooks? The big textbook publishers are used to commanding much higher prices for their books. Will they sit down and accept this change? I somehow doubt it. It also kills the used textbook market but still I don’t think they will go for it. They will make some lower profit textbooks but will keep their really good ones as paper. Also, please note that as easy as Apple made it to make eTextbooks, it’s still expensive to create new assets and videos and such for existing textbooks. So, it it costs more to make, and you have to charge much less, why would big publishers go along with this?

Here’s a prediction: I think this new market place will be used way more by K-12 textbook companies than by college textbook makers. I also predict that in a year’s time, the most popular eTextbook will be written by an independent author, not by a big company.

3. iTunes U. First impression: Meh.

I have used iTunes U for a while and I’m pleased it has been upgraded. (It needed it). Still, the biggest change here is that K-12 is now allowed to start their own iTunes U sites. Again, I note that Apple seems to be creating a turn key package to offer to schools that want to go digital but don’t want to have to built it themselves.

Overall, one wow and two mehs.

    • Apple announced what it’s calling “iBooks 2” during its media event in New York on Thursday, a textbook software program that allows textbook-makers and instructors to create rich, interactive teaching media for the iPad. As we first reported earlier this week, the announcement is akin to “GarageBand for e-books,” giving authors access to easy-to-use tools on the computer in order to create multimedia content for the iPad.
    • Books created for iBooks 2 can have all manner of media attached, complete with multitouch capabilities. The company listed numerous ways in which iBooks 2 authors can create engaging content for students, including multiple-choice questions with immediate feedback within the text, the ability to make notes and highlights that can be found in a single location as note cards or sprinkled throughout the text, ways to explore embedded graphics and 3D animations, full-motion movies, and more.
    • Apple also announced a Mac application on Thursday called “iBooks Author,” which Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller described as “powerful and feature-rich.” The interface, as demoed to the audience, is similar to Apple’s iWork applications and allows authors to format books through WYSIWYG interaction and format the pages in a variety of ways.
    • The price of the books is capped at $14.99 or less (the company specifically said “high school” books, so it’s unclear as to whether the cap applies to all books), though instructors can sell individual chapters at what Schiller described as a “very aggressive price.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. Textbooks at 15 would be a god send.

  2. I think this would stress the big publishers a lot. Now I, or anybody else, can sit at home writhe a new textbook and publish it.

    I will be hard to be the middle man.

    Second I agree with you and the locked content problem, I think a lot of people sometimes get stressed if they are forced to use one plattform.

    Regards from Pontus in a cold (-19 C) Sweden.

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