Thursday, January 12, 2012

iTextbooks? - Apple Gets in on the Digital Textbook Revolution

As long as I'm posting about digital textbooks, I might as well mention Apple.  Rumors are swirling around the Apple invite that has gone out to press saying,
“Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple.”
 According to the Mashable article Apple is partnering with textbook publishers.  It all makes sense to me.  After all, why not utilize the now mainstream distribution channel of iTunes and iBooks, and start selling iTextbooks.

I think the bigger question for instructional designers and developers is how can WE publish into this system?  We also want to know if there will be interactive components to the textbooks.  At the very least I hope we're able to embed hyperlinks to YouTube videos, blog posts, etc.  I think some bonus functionality would be something like selecting some text within a textbook and posting it to social networks like twitter, or facebook, or google+.  This increases the factor of engagement significantly which is what students really need.  It's one thing to just sit and read a book.  But it's a significantly better experience if what is read can be shared and discussed with others.

Apple is not very good at the social thing yet.  Ping is lame and iCloud is still clunky and frustrating for many users.  However, they do understand the desire to publish content to other social systems and they have embraced that capability.  So, I'm hopeful they will continue along that path until they can get their own social network functioning...if they ever intend too.
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