Friday, January 20, 2012

Today’s Apple event presented a giant leap forward in the process of updating American education. As of today, elementary, high school and college students are all able to experience a new, dynamic digitization of textbooks and course materials through the iPad. Textbooks for iBooks marks a new wave of modernization in the educational system, and if it succeeds, a new learning style might be on the horizon.

Combined with iBooks Author for Mac and a revamped iTunes U interface, Apple has officially established itself as a conductor for the digital education experience. The WYSIWIG interface of the application means that even technologically green teachers will be able to develop customized coursework companions for their curricula. From soup to nuts, users are able to take part in developing educational tools for any level and also do it relatively cheaply. All of the apps iTunes debuted today are free from the iTunes or Mac App Store, and are available for immediate use.

The revamp of iTunes U also brings a new wave of promise to an old idea. Users can now participate in open courses from some of the country’s best universities, without ever having to leave their homes. Dynamic and interactive, iTunes U’s new facelift could possibly attract more universities to the platform and, in turn, produce more overall educational content through Apple’s mediums.

1. iBooks 2

The iPad's iBooks app is what the rest of the Apple for Education apps cleverly rest on. Available for free today in the iTunes store, iBooks 2 provides deeper functionality and a special section for Apple's major announcement...

2. iBooks Textbooks for iPad

Dynamic textbooks from K-12 education giants McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcout, and Pearson will be available for iPad through iBooks. Books would be available for students to keep indefinitely, and could be redownloaded at no charge. Apple has also launched an Educational Volume Purchase Program to help teachers distribute the digitized books to students.

 3. Full Textbook Interactivity

Textbooks available through iBooks are media-rich and interactive, complete with editable photographs, diagrams and video. Users are able to highlight passages with a simple swipe, and then upload the information to compact notebooks to help with those pesky cram sessions.

 4. Textbooks in iTunes

Textbooks would be available for purchase through the iBookstore in iTunes, either on a computer or natively through the iPad. Textbooks run at a base price of $14.99, a fraction of traditional paper textbooks.

5. iBooks Author

Apple has opened up educational book creation to the public as well. iBooks Author is a free application for download in the Mac App Store. The fully functional program allows users to put in text as well as input graphics and interactive areas for users to interface with on the iPad.

6. New iTunes U

The educational updates aren't just for the K-12 set. Apple also debuted a new, revamped version of iTunes U , which offers full college-level courses straight to the iPad or mobile device. All of the course materials, lectures and homework is found within iTunes U, so those aspiring to learn something new don't even have to leave the comfort of their couches.