Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

Summary: Does the New York Apple announcement have any consequences for students?

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

Apple announced the release of iBooks 2, iBooks Author and an iTunes U application today in New York.

Apple's announcement has the potential to disrupt the textbook industry, current educational software use and may change the fabric of how K-12 students and above learn both in the classroom and outside of it.

How could the new applications potentially affect students and academic institutions?

There are over 200,000 educational apps available on the iPad, and more than 1.5 million iPads are reported as in use by academic institutions. Apple wishes to 'reinvent the textbook', and therefore, this will have repercussions on the current -- perhaps outdated -- publishing industry.

The software giant is already working with McGraw-Hill and DK Publishing to offer a selection in the digital textbook store -- books such as My First ABC and Life on Earth are available, with more to come.

The new iBooks 2 app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. It offers a number of new features for students that can offer a more interactive and organised learning experience, including a more interactive 'digital material' system. iBooks Author allows self-publishers to create this kind of interactive digital content.

The iBooks 2 application itself is focused around students being able to engage with up-to-date curriculum content. Several features announced today include:

  • A quicker means of study being able to swipe to different pages and links;
  • Rich, engaging layouts that make books far more engaging than print media;
  • The ability to embed movies into textbook pages;
  • An additional dictionary component. If a student does not understand a word on a page, they are able to bring up a glossary definition immediately;
  • Toolbar search facilities;
  • Review questions to help students test their knowledge on a book chapter or film;
  • A portrait and landscape mode switch feature;
  • Users 'own' the book for life, enabling them to re-download texts at any point from the cloud.

The iBooks 2 app is designed not only to make learning more engaging for a generation who have grown up with iProducts, but to make revision and immediate feedback more easily achieved, through one Apple product.

A constant request of students is a way in which to more easily annotate digital textbooks. The iBooks 2 update makes students able to highlight portions of text, and from this, convert their notes in to flashcards.

This is currently missing from other eReader devices, and is likely to become an invaluable tool for K-12 students and above. As a former student, I would have killed for this feature -- especially for university students, when exams beckon, this feature will be a great time saver.

Apple sees textbooks as a non-portable, inflexible means of study. Students having to carry oversized backpacks is a scenario most of us can relate to -- and Apple wishes to change this. Mobile devices such as an iPhone and iPad are obviously far more portable means of carrying large volumes of information.

However, textbooks used through the app are going to be 1GB, so it seems predictable that users will have to invest in 64GB iPad 2's or iPad 3's if they wish to use this application on a frequent basis. The books on offer will be priced at $14.99 or less. Apple hopes that self-publishers, organisations and academic institutions will use the new services to create a wide variety of digital books and expand the popularity of iBooks.

Phil Schiller, Apple's vice-president of worldwide marketing, said at the event:

"We think there should be an area just for textbooks in the store. You'll see every subject, every grade level, for every student."

As a new tool, is it required?

Students already have a plethora of tools available at their disposal, whether sharing and storing services like Dropbox and Google Docs, or applications tailored to make schedules, take notes or summarizing articles in order to make studies quicker and more efficient.

Google Scholar is also a popular service available to students, offering an immediate avenue to find links to content that they can utilize in their studies. It does not, however, enable students to create or publish content.

The advances Apple have revealed could potentially cause a transition from simply searching for content, to creating and distributing it.

Will academic institutions want to explore this technology?

Apple's announcement means that the company view textbooks as an outdated means of learning. However, in order for the apps to truly have an affect within academic institutions, schools would have to universally implement the software.

Mobile device use and increased technology dependence is beginning to slowly creep in to classrooms at a younger stage. For example, K-12 learners studying at the Burris Laboratory School have been using iPads as a learning tool since last year -- both the school's kindergarten through to fifth grade students and their teachers have been equipped with their own iPads through an educational grant.

At the announcement, teacher interviews were conducted and released on video. One comment stood out by a teacher who was impressed by the interactive levels of the application:

"They're going to want to go to school, they're going to want to learn."

Perhaps by offering more engaging methods of learning, it may improve student performance and enjoyment.

It is likely many schools will find this a challenge, due to a lack of technical knowledge and budget constraints. Perhaps if Apple introduces large-scale academic pricing agreements with schools for hardware, then it will increase the rate of institutions adopting the practice and change in learning methods.

If educators become enthusiastic about creating books and course materials using iBooks Author, and distributing it through the new iTunes U app and iBooks 2, then Apple will almost certainly eventually own a dominant share in educational space.

The digital publishing industry is one in which different parties are still feeling their way around, and various companies are jostling each other for market share percentages. Adding new levels of interactivity aimed at school learners has the potential to change the game irrevocably -- as well as potentially creating brand loyalty at a young age.

E-book purchases are not always suitable for students. What is available online as an e-book is not necessarily the required edition for classes at university, but budgeting students may choose to take the cheaper option. However, if educators decide to implement this technology and make materials for a particular class, this could end up replacing current software like PowerPoint or Keynote, and allow for better distribution of relevant learning material.

The new Apple apps could make the learning experience from K-12 to university more relevant and engaging. Not only that, it could mean that students can annotate and contribute on digital content together to improve the overall quality of material available to students coming after them.


Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

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  • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

    I guess I can't sell the ebook to Student B after I'm done with it (compared to being able to do so with a regular book).
  • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

    Charlie, your point that iBooks 2 will be a more efficient ways to study is consistent with what we've found here at iSwifter Learn where we worked with teachers and IT directors across the nation to design Rover a free education browser that streams Flash to the iPad. There is a lot of Flash content "trapped" on classroom PCs and with Rover teachers can now seamlessly extend their favorite online learning content to the iPad. Here are more details:
    • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

      @PriyankaISwifter the only way it would work is if Microsoft was involved. Windows 8 tablets, are simply better than anything in existance today.
      • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

        @Stephen-B But the Windows 8 tablet [i]does not exist[/i]. ANYTHING in fairy-tale land is better than anything in existence today - heck the iPad 4Gs is a far superior device to the Windows 8 tablet.
  • Not Realistic

    While I may personally applaud the idea (its been around) the cost impact to cash strapped public school systems today will limit / dissallow this.
    Add to that the potential cost impact tp parents for upkeep / replacement of these devices.

    Sorry, unless a way is determined to pay for this outside the parental / school arena, it will be a limited design.
    • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?


      I think higher ed, private schools and home schooling are the sweet spot. Public K-12 probably does have a $$$ barrier. Faculty are more than willing to adopt new technologies (how well they are at adopting them is a different story), so I don't see that as a huge barrier. Plus, schools that charge tuition can easily role that into tuition. A four year school can refresh iPads every 2 years and it's a drop in the bucket compared to tuition. Not to mention that with texts at $14.99 or less, the device could pay for itself in a semester or two. I was in college 15 years ago and texts could easily be $400+ (mid 90's dollars, mind you) a semester for 6-7 books. At $14.99, you'd be cutting that to $100.

      Even with k-12, there's a possibility for overcoming the barriers. Due to volume, schools likely wouldn't pay what you or I would for hardware, and I'm guessing Apple would be even more agressive with pricing to get early market penetration. If they can get an iPad model down to $350 or less, combined with text book savings, it becomes allot more feasible from a financial perspective. I still don't know how you deal with the damage/theft aspect, but then again, allot of these kids have phones, laptops and other expensive gadgets already.

      I also wonder how Apple's envisioning use in the classroom. I have to think they have another shoe to drop, some management solution, that provides a kill switch so kids aren't facebooking, playing angry birds, etc. in the classroom.
  • Is the iGeneration really that brain washed by the RDF to believe this cr*p

    This is incredibly bad for students and school districts. The only ones this is good for are apple and the publishers. While there are many benefits to eTextbooks they all exist outside the scope of what apples doing here. They are adding zero value themselves and have no business getting between the taxpayers and the textbooks. The Department of Education should come out immediatelly and announce that all federal funding will be withheld from all school districts to move on this. Not until there is a verified open standard format (html5) and standard DRM, and there are ereaders for them available for the windows laptops many kids already have, android tablets, kindles, etc. And not until there are multiple completing markets like amazon or the publishers themselves. And the model of the book for life is stupid beyond stupid. Do you still want to read "See Spot Run" or any other of your K-6 books? This is pure crap from apple and the publishers to crank up sales. The ebooks need to be transferable so the schools can buy them for this years 4th graders and then move them to next years 4th graders at no charge. Schools get many years out of textbooks and theres no reason that number of years shouldnt go way up with etextbooks. It is our public responsibility to educaate our kids, not line the pockets of textbook publishers or apple which is trying to take a cut here for nothing. They should make their snazzy ereader available for free as an enticement for people to buy their ipad, as should every other os ecosystem like microsoft and amazon. They are welcome to charge for any authoring tools they wish to make and sell but thats it. The Department of education should investigate how much of the current textbook cost of goods is the physical publishing and truck distribution and price what they are paying for etextbooks proportionally. $14.99 is a complete rip off of the taxpayer for an electronically distributed textbook. In the volume they sell they an etextbook should be probably somewhere in the $.99-$1.49 range. The way this was announced the pubs cut out 98+% of their costs and sell 10x as many doing the "for life" crap instead of reuse and want the brain dead to think it's a good deal because its less per book than a textbook today. Oh please. That would only make sense to the uneducated. And apple taking 30% or whatever for nothing? Thats CRAP. This stinks all the way down one side and up the other and the whole idea needs to be slapped back in apples face. How dare they try to rip off the taxpayers and hurt our childrens education by making them do without something else to pay to line their pockets. This is disgusting.
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: Apple's new apps revealed, potential student reaction?

    Schools don't need to afford them, Apple has enough of a parent fan base that will jump on this. Kids will learn from anything, they are curious folks (My 1 1/2 year old nephew comes from an IPAD house and he was trying to swipe our TV). Those that can't afford will have to do without as with most other areas in society(whether that should be "rectified" is another discussion).