iBook Author App and “New” iPad Textbooks – Meh

I want to disclose two things before you continue reading this post:

1) I am not a fan of textbooks.

2) I am a fan of Apple products.

One reason I’m not big on textbooks is that it is often limiting, and the content is often produced in a linear way, even when it doesn’t have to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think text books can be a useful resource, but they should be used sparingly, and teachers need to customize their content with what works for their students. The few interactive texts that they are selling have some neat features, but they’re nothing to scream about. Resourceful students and teachers have been able to get that kind of content for free on the web. They’re better than the textbooks I used in high school, but the classes I learned the most were ones where teachers made us read articles in newspapers, periodicals, and literature.

The part that excited me most about Apple’s announcement was the “ibook author” that one could download for free from Apple. I played around with it this weekend to see if I could easily create ebooks, but more to see if it would be easy for kids 8 years old and up to use. The answer to that question is yes.

Here’s the problem: we’re not an Apple computer school, let alone an iPad school. A few of each float around, but not in a supply that would be accessible to most kids. One of the reasons I like Apple products is because they often just work right. They are well-designed in the sense that they do what they are supposed to do simply – use other software if you want to do more complicated things. The work well (most of the time), but that’s often only when you play within their own ecosystem.

If a student or I create an ebook (whether or not it has any interactive features), I want them and their peers to access these books in a myriad of formats such as a web browsers, Kindle, any pc or tablet. I can’t see myself spending time creating ebooks for my students that only work on one device unless a school adopts that device whole heartedly, and I don’t think right now they should. It’s too soon. There are many things great about an iPad. I’d be happy to get rid of the pcs in my room, reclaim that work space for students and have them use tablets at their tables, the rug, etc. Still, for little kids, I think it’s too soon. Perhaps, when I find the time, I’ll post a pros and cons list from what I’ve found in using an iPad in the classroom.

It’s promising for starters, and a bit more engaging than a standard textbook (which as I’ve mentioned I’m not a fan of), but for now, it’s just another delivery method for standard textbooks. It’d be great to have me or my students create ibooks, but with no macs and 1 iPad in my class, I’ll stick to creating web resources, and hopefully having kids create web resources for each other, as well. Those they can access anywhere online. I may change my mind, but for now, I’m underwhelmed.

You can watch Apple’s video/ad below.


3 thoughts on “iBook Author App and “New” iPad Textbooks – Meh

  1. Full disclosure :
    A) I am not an apple fan, because im the guy people call when they don’t “just work”. You DO have to play only in their ecosystem and when a they do break it os usually fir some inexplicable reason because the entire thing is based on code made by programmers who wanted everything to be easy rather than deeply capable. Unlike other OS’s that when code breaks it can be tracked to an error that is explained.
    B) I like the prospect of iOS devices for education because they are a walled garden and while easy to use capable to the limits of the teachers imagination.
    Those said the eBooks2 scare me b/c if u upload a book, according to the EULA. Apple owns ur work. How is it that a company whose most famous ad basically called Microsoft Orwellian tyrants never gets called to the carpet that they are exactly that and every person who clambers for their devices and software because of their ‘ease of use’ are willingly signing up to be owned wholesale by a company.
    Just my thoughts.

    • Thanks for your comments and feedback here. It’s much appreciated. I have to agree with you on many accounts. I didn’t get into the EULA in my post, mostly because I don’t understand it well enough. I do agree with you that before people point fingers and start name calling, that they should look at the ‘big company’ they are either endorsing or vilifying. I’m just glad I live in a place that is home to both Amazon and Microsoft. Companies in Cupertino and Mountain View make both those companies stronger.

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