Apple’s new Textbooks

While I’m not an Apple fanboy by any means, we do have two iPads at our house but I’ve always struggled with what productive use they have. Almost half of the apps on mine are games, and I would say that the main purpose of the other one is playing Nemo in the car for Elizabeth.

Last week however, Apple released textbooks for the iBooks app. It looks like there are only 8 books so far, but already there are books on various math and science subjects. One of them, titled “E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth”, is a free download so I figured I would grab it and see how good they were.

It did take quite a while to download, but today when I opened the book for the first time it showed the cover page, then a video introducing the book… pretty cool stuff, definitely beats reading the introduction.

The first chapter is like any other ebook: text, pictures, footnotes, references, etc etc. The difference is when you click on the pictures or the graphics, that’s when the book really comes alive. So far I have discovered interactive maps, picture galleries (instead of just one picture to give an idea of what is being talked about they show you a bunch), videos that better explain what is being talked about, 3d graphs, and many other things.

From what I have seen students will not have to sit and read a text book anymore, instead it will be a fully interactive resource which will easily keep the students attention. Besides all of the fun stuff there is also knowledge review sections built right in to the textbook where students can take small quizes and see the right and wrong answers to test what they learned.

At SMS I am starting to see tools like the iPad gain traction in schools through grants and other funding. While new technologies like these will present some challenges for IT staff, it makes me happy to know that my daughter will have tools like this when she starts school in a few years, and it sure will beat what we had when I was there.