Apple Tackles Textbooks

Apple made some big announcements yesterday at its Education Event held in New York City. First, they introduced iBooks 2 textbooks. These are multi-touch textbooks for the iPad complete with interactive diagrams, photos, and videos. They’ve been created in partnership with major textbook publishers, and they include additional features like highlighting text, taking notes, searching for content, and finding definitions in the glossary. While interesting, this is not so different from what Inkling is doing, as we outlined in an earlier post.

More significant is the announcement of iBooks Author. This is a free Mac application for creating interactive iBooks. It can be used by publishers, instructors, or anyone, really. This provides a way to easily create engaging, course-custom materials. It also has potential as a format for student projects or portfolios. It promises to be the iMovie of ebooks, that is, it offers an accessible creation tool in an area where the existing tools have a much steeper learning curve and/or cost. It will be interesting to see what role iBooks Author might play in higher education. What would you create with a tool like this?

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