Apple LogoNever a company for lack of lofty goals, Apple just announced that they plan to “uproot the traditional learning experience.”

How will they do this?

In typical Apple fashion, they plan to disrupt the traditional learning experience with apps.

In fact with three apps in particular:

  • iBooks 2 app: students can download interactive textbooks to their iPads. We can also call this one the backpack killer.
  • iBooks Author: this will enable publishers and writers to create books using Mac computers and publish them right into the iBookstore.
  • iTunes U app: this will allow students to receive course curricula, read textbooks, view presentations and lectures, and get assignment directly through their mobile devices.

This new class of textbooks promises to be a rich media experience that will also offer students an opportunity to take notes inside of each book. Another great aspect of these digital textbooks will be focused on the ability to search – when reading a student can simply touch a word and then they will be able to search for other instances of that word within that particular textbook.

Apple has already put together some very strong pages featuring this latest output, but a few of the strongest include the demo page where they provide some working examples as well as the page they created explaining the Textbook Dilema. Also, here is a link to the January 19, 2012 presentation at the Guggenheim Museum should you want to hear what Apple has to say in their own words.

And yes, these apps are available free of charge in Apple app stores. It is also interesting to note that more than 20,000 educational apps are available in the company’s iOS App Store (source: The Los Angeles Times). Beyond the free apps, it also appears that Apple has already managed to close significant deals with a number of leading textbook publishers.

We’ll see over the next few months what kind of adoption rate this suite of iTextbooks will manage to achieve but this space is already very heated up with players like Amazon already there, not to mention what moves we can expect from the likes of Google and Microsoft.  Don’t be surprised if this coming Fall (2012) we can see a number of schools to begin to migrate a little further from the traditional pen and paper and move into the world of bits and bytes.

Beyond being potentially great for education, this move by Apple could also be a great business move as what Apple will in effect be doing is encouraging users to buy into the Apple family of products much sooner. While many might look at this and say perhaps Apple is approaching education for reasons that will motivate their bottom line rather than focusing on what will motivate our youngsters, the perspective of this education technology company is that perhaps the successes that Apple achieves in introducing and advancing the use of technology in our classrooms will have a net effect of encouraging other people and companies to also join in.  As more talented and engaged entities invest in education, overall the results will be that all our students and teachers are able to achieve much greater educational outcomes.

With this announcement by Apple it is fair to say that we can all expect some major activity in 2012 with regarding to the intersection of technology and education.

Related Press TechCrunch (01/19) T.H.E. Journal (01/19) NPR.org(01/19) FastCompany.com (01/19) Edutopia.org (01/20)

 

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