Reinventing Textbooks on the iPad – Today’s Little Apple Education Event Turned Out to Be Hugely Exciting

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I followed Macworld’s excellent liveblog coverage of Apple’s ‘Education Announcement’ event this morning. For me, this was one of the most exciting Apple events I’ve ever tuned into. I got more and more excited as the event went on, because I feel like the things that were announced are going to have a massive impact on education and students of all ages – and the iPad’s impact in educational institutions.

I’m still digesting the news and gathering my thoughts, but here’s a quick recap of some of the most interesting announcements:

— Apple, with the collaboration of some blue-chip publishing partners, is setting out to reinvent textbooks on the iPad. There are already over 1.5 million iPads in use in education institutions. Many of them in 1 to 1 programs.

— iBooks 2.0 (updated today and live now in the App Store) is going to make textbooks everything that traditional textbooks cannot be -  interactive, fun, gorgeous, engaging, with features like 3D models, interactive elements, multimedia, powerful advanced search, notes, highlighting, definitions, lesson reviews and study cards, and more.

— Apple has partnered with three companies who together account for 90% of the textbooks sold in the US – Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

— There is already a new Textbooks section in iBooks, with 8 high school level titles including Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and more.

— There are also four new titles available today from DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) that are suitable for younger ages – Dinosaurs, Insects, Mammals, and My First ABC.

iBooks Author

— iBooks Author is a new (and free) Mac app that looks like a combination of Pages and iMovie for book publishing. It can be used to create textbooks or books of just about any type. It sounds extremely powerful and easy to use.

— iTunes U, which up to now has been used primarily for universities and higher education, is now being extended to include K through 12 schools. This means teachers at schools at those levels can deliver full online courses to their students for free. There is now a free iTunes U app for the iPad too.

As someone who runs a site focused on the iPad, of course I’m excited about how much this may extend the iPad’s reach in educational institutions and among students. Even more importantly though, as the father of a 3rd grader, I am enormously excited about how these announcements will affect students and in particular my daughter. I am so happy that she is tech-savvy, iPad-savvy, and a tremendously enthusiastic student – and thrilled that the iPad may become a major part of her continuing education.


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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