Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apple Announces Textbook Revolution

This morning Apple held a press event to announce their entry into the world of textbooks.  Everyone knew this was coming.  It's just been a matter of when and what will it look like.  And basically, what it looks like is a complete game changer.  Not just because the iBook Store will now sell you interactive textbooks via your iTunes account, but because they also announced a new authoring tool...and it's FREE!

I think digital books with integrated media were an inevitability.  After all they've sort of already existed in other forms such as websites, and apps, and pdf files, etc.  So, the big story is really about how this effects the billion(s) dollar industry of textbook publishing.  Apples iBooks will sell for no more than $14.99.  So, if the publishers are looking to keep their profits at current levels that most likely means someone is going to get cut out of the deal.  It's obvious that someone is the author.  But the good news is that with a free authoring tool and the iTunes/iBook marketplace, I think the authors may end up getting the better end of this deal.

I've been it for several years now but I'll say it again, "Teachers will be the next millionaires".  With today's technologies, and the new technologies just around the corner, there is no reason why a great teacher couldn't produce content for sale, and mentor students for a fee, and make a very good living.

I've only taken about 20mins to review iBooks Author (direct download link iBooks Author).  But the exciting thing is that if you are familiar with Apple apps then it won't take much more than that for you to start writing a fully interactive textbook of your own.

The starting templates are beautiful...very similar to templates in Pages with clean elegant designs.  I started with the Contemporary template and just started clicking around.  It's so easy to get started that really wish I has some sort of textbook project to be working on.

It's easy to incorporate videos, images, and other media by simply dragging and dropping.  But like I said, this is an Apple app and that's just how you do it. No fuss.  You can also add shapes, tables, and charts which is also similar to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

The new features are in the form of widgets:  Gallery, Interactive Image, Keynote, 3D, HTML, and Review.  You'll be happy (or not) to know that the Review widget is simply a multiple choice quizzing tool. From the Apple web site...
"Let readers test their knowledge using a variety of question types: multiple choice, choose the correct image, label the image, or a mix of all three. Authors can include six possible answers to each question."
 The accepted 3D format is COLLADA or .dae.  It's been a while since I've worked in 3D and so this format is new to me.  But according to wikipedia it looks like all the major 3D creation apps support the standard.

I'll let you go off and explore the Apple site and other places to get more details.  For the sake of this blog I want to know if you think this is revolutionary, or a game changer, for the work that you do?  Would you consider iBooks to be eLearning? Are you concerned about SCORM compliance?  Or how about LMS connectivity?  Many of you work in Windows only environments so does this make you think a little harder about buying a Mac?

mLearnCon is only about 5 months away.  If you are planning on creating iBooks between now and then let me know and we can figure out a way to showcase your work.  This is big news for Mobile Learning so we will most definitely be talking about it at mLearnCon.  mLearning is only just beginning!
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