As should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following Apple for any lenght of time, these guys sure know how to hype people up for their events.
Today was no exception.
As promised, Apple held their education event this morning, making some major announcements to their products that they feel could start to overhaul certain areas of the education system. Specifically, this is all tied to access to information and keeping said information up-to-date. Can't say that I'm not impressed!
In a nutshell, here are the 4 major topics discussed at the event this morning:
1.) iBooks2 - textbooks for iPad
Gone are the days of toting a gazillion heavy, out of date textbooks around in one's backpack. With the announcement of iBooks2, Apple is set to change the course of history with slicker, more convenient versions of today's paper models. It's about time. One argument that many teachers have (myself included) against traditional textbooks is that by the time the textbook is printed and shipped, it's basically out of date (subject dependent, of course). This changes all that.
One cool feature that was demoed today was the textbook's ability to be more interactive -- for example, a student can highlight a word and get an instant definition of it. Tie that in with slick navigation features and embedded multimedia and you've got a great product.
RIP Traditional Textbooks 1614-2012
The one major drawback? These puppies could literally fill an iPad in minutes. Some of the textbooks available are rumoured to be upwards of 2 GBs...hopefully the iPad3 addresses this in the future with the ability for an external hard drive or memory card slot.
2.) Partnership with textbook companies -- textbooks available for $14.99 or less
Holy jumping batman. $14.99 or less??? My last Social Studies textbook for Grade 10s cost us $46.00, with a minimum purchase amount!! I think this announcement pretty much speaks for itself. Go to the new "Textbooks" category in iBookstore to see selections from McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. So far, sounds like high school textbooks are available in most of the Science subcategories.
3.) iBooks Author
I gotta say, this one looks fantastic. Want to create your own textbook (or other book, for that matter)? The new iBooks Author looks quick, easy and slick letting the average person become a publisher in no time at all! The demo today showed seamless integration with both Word and Keynote as well as other fancy-dancy features like widgets, interactive image galleries, multimedia, embedded questions, etc.
What could this mean for your classroom? Each student could be an author with little techie know-how. How amazing to be able to collaborate and demonstrate their knowledge in a new platform. And don't forget about yourself! I remember spending hours trying to compile an interactive webquest-type activity...basically this is new version of an old compilation.
This app? Free. As in zilch, nada, nothing, zero, no cost to you.
4.) iTunes U App
Obviously, iTunes University is nothing new, but today launched the iTunes U app for iPad along with an expansion of what content is available. Previously, you could go onto iTunes U and download content to peruse or listen to, but today's announcement essentially states that you can now take full courses through this app. Content, assignments, lectures, the whole works.
As always, someone has already done a fantastic job creating a little overview video. I highly recommend going to http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/19/apple-itunes-u-hands-on-video/ and both reading their description as well as watching the video they've created.
Bravo, Apple, bravo.