Many Internet savvy teachers in Qatar may already be familiar with the late Steve Jobs’ vision for education, which is to Applize it. iTunes U led the way with online seminars and free courses in subjects as diverse as art to heart surgery. These are undertaken much like an Open University course but come with better digital features as you might expect.
Now, last week in fact, Apple announced the launch of iBooks 2.0, which may well have the ability to completely revolutionise the school textbook market. Apple fans will already be familiar with Apple iBooks, the online bookstore to rival Amazon, iBooks 2.0 will fit nicely into this existing facility and naturally be a completely interactive learning experience.
Textbooks in iBooks 2.0 will be fully optimized for iPads, giving students access to videos within chapters, interactive study notes and 3D graphics, enhancing the whole learning experience. No matter what continent you live in, this makes good sense – saving the trees, easy to update content, no lugging heavy books about – it wins on so many levels.
The world leaders in educational publishing are on board, such as Pearson Publishing and McGraw Hill and there are some handy complimentary apps to help ensure absorption into the school curriculum such as iBooks Author, which provides templates for producing textbooks compatible with the iPad.
Speaking at an education event in New York last Thursday, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller said, “We want to reinvent the textbook. Current textbooks cannot compete. They aren’t portable, searchable, current, or interactive.” He pointed out that there are over 20,000 educational apps already available for the iPad and that more than a million iPads are already used in education. International universities in Qatar’s Education City already embrace the iPad, utilizing its features for workshops and as a library resource.
Yes – but what about the cost, I hear you ask? A basic iPad2 costs in excess of QR 2000, potentially making it a pricey investment for a student. Well – the really good news is that the price of the textbooks will be capped at a meagre $14.99, quite a coup considering that a typical medical or legal textbook could set a student back $100, therefore potentially making the iPad a prudent, money-saving investment.
Now an apple a day for the teacher is not what it used to be – and for that, I’m sure Steve Jobs is eternally grateful.