Apple launches Student Textbook MKII

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Yesterday’s Apple Education Event (iBooks 2) was essentially all about the iPad’s increasing role within the realms of education. I already own a number of educational-type Apps on my iPad which I believe had a significant impact on this evolution - Touch Press’s ’The Elements’ and ’Solar System’ as well as Transworld Digital’s ’The Magic of Reality’ are all superb types of a new interactive forms of learning - the latter is closer to the new standard that Apple has introduced with its digital ’Textbooks’ - actually just an updated standard of its iBooks format.

These new ’Textbooks’ are essentially interactive books with inline media and other games and interactive puzzles included within the flow of the books, as well as built-in tests, glossaries and clever indexes and bookmarks / study cards.

The Key Features are as follows:

Thumbnail Index - essentially a visual plus text overview index of the key parts of the textbook

Integral Videos - inline Videos and animations within context

Interactive Animations - animated timelines, puzzles and the like bring an added tactile dimension to learning - which of course aids memory

Study Cards - Highlighted passages of text and notes will automatically turn into ordered and indexed study cards - to aid revision

Custom Glossary - Each textbook will have it’s own explanations / descriptions of key terms

Quizzes and Review Questions - Instant Quizzes built into the end of each chapter - to aid memory recall

For content creators, Apple has provided a new ’iBooks Author’ Mac OSX App - wich allows anyone to create their own enhanced interactive textbook in this format (in fact any iBooks can be created like this) - the App is free and is available on the Mac App Store.

Apple has also produced a specific iPad App for Higher Education called ’iTunes U’ - which is already being used by universities - Duke, Stanford and Yale to provide large parts of their curricula in this format.

Apple has once again really stolen the march on its competitors! I had expected Amazon to have made some ground with its Kindle offerings, but truth be told - E-Ink is great for reading regular books, but it’s way too laggy to provide a full interactive environment along the lines of the iPad. A friend of mine has the latest Kindle Touch - and getting the dictionary to work etc. just takes too long - that part of the experience is far away form the swift and sleek interlaced and instantly interactive swiping and browsing of the iPad.

Sure there is financial motivation in this too, but well done to Apple for setting the pace once again.

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