Apple could be about to launch a new platform for for digital textbooks, which it hopes will bring an innovative method for students to interact with the subject matter and all linked to the iTunes platform making it very easy to access. All to be revealed at this Thursday's Apple education event.
The WSJ mentions that Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill publishers for best part of a year in the lead up to the event.
Importantly, this will also possibly be coupled with a new tool for creating educational ebooks. The tools available for doing this at present, in the form of iWork, at times being a rather clumsy application. The new software should make ebook creation far simpler and has been described as a Garageband for ebooks, according to Ars Technica.
In order to make this possible Apple has implemented the EPUB 3 standard, although the different standard may mean that sharing content between platforms is more difficult, it should make for an easier way for developers to create interesting interactive content for ebooks.
So the news could be two-fold: a new platform in which to access a huge variety of educational and highly interactive content; and a new, easy way of creating said content, which will ensure that there's a ready supply of developers willing to work on the new platform. This model has served Apple very well in the past.
This kind of interactive ebook learning could have some very positive effects on learning in the classroom and help bring otherwise stale subject matter to life. However, there are possibly a few concerns with this move.
The first is that when bringing any standard into the classroom we have to be aware that students will be learning through that particular standard, in this case through an Apple product, so it is important that they have other platforms to work with so they don't get locked into the Apple ecosystem - something Apple would no doubt want. Having your product in the classroom is a sure fire way to create brand loyalty when that person grows up. Just look at Windows.
Also, it's important to remember that it is the teacher's job to educate and create an environment in which students can be excited about a given topic, so over reliance on a tablet to do this for you isn't always a good thing.
We'll be bringing you all the news on Thursday.