Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Apple and Education

The recent announcement by Apple on enhancing iBooks for education (and releasing the iBooks Author and iTunes U apps) gives us an opportunity to be able to make education/training/learning more interesting, current and topically relevant than ever before.  I’ve been trying out all 3 and see a lot of potential.  While Apple is clearly doing this to foster future customer growth it should also make learning more interesting in general which is the most important aspect.  I’ve had a couple of problems with iBooks and the (free) Life On Earth book, one of which required a reboot of my iPad so it has to continue evolving but I believe that Apple will have the same impact on education that they have had on the music, cellphone, tablet and computing industries.  I am also experimenting with authoring a simple training book on some new tools that I am using just to see how practical it might be for that sort of learning.  I think that being able to easily embed pictures and video might make screen shots and movies of windows able to help the demo/example experience for using tools.  The real goal of the authoring tool is to make it possible for an author to perform all that is required for writing, editing and publishing a book.   This is possible to some degree with the Amazon Kindle system but not as an entire workflow as Apple has done with iBooks Author. The recent New York Times article on mfg in the U.S. is absolute proof that we need to improve education and training right now to be competitive in the modern world.  Note that the rest of the world will be able to use the new tools as well so that means we need to immediately take advantage of it.  If programs need to be established to make iPads more available then let’s do that (instead of finding other ways to waste money).  I consider education a more important investment in our infrastructure (people) than any other expense that Congress can find in their pork barrels. The following image shows the first set of templates for textbooks that Apple has provided with the iBooks Author tool.  The tool helps with composing, table of contents generation, vocabulary assistance and so on.  The iBooks and iTunes U apps also assistant in teacher communication and planning.  This is going to be quite an extensive system.