Thoughts on iBooks

Jason Snell at Macworld asked me for my take on Apple's announcements at their recent education event in New York City. Here are a few excerpts.

On the state of ebook use in schools:

The ownership model for ebooks is out of step with the way schools buy and use most books. Unfortunately, Apple’s announcement didn’t change that much. I had hoped that on Thursday we would see a mechanism for checking books out and back into some kind of “school library” through iBooks. Instead we got a modest price cut on textbooks alone.

On iBooks Author:

It’s almost like Pages and Keynote got together and produced a child. ... iBooks Author can do for books what Keynote did for presentations: an accessible way to create very high-quality results with little effort.

On the new iTunes U app:

If you’ve ever tried to “take” a course from iTunes U, you may have found it a bit frustrating. It was never really a full course, just some lecture materials and a reading list. Where are the books? Where are the exercises? It was difficult for course authors to communicate the intended progression of learning.

With iTunes U, Apple has solved the problem of communicating the learning journey. It’s no longer “read this PDF, then watch these videos.” Courses can now contain audio, video, documents, links to iOS apps and iBooks. There’s deep integration between iBooks and iTunes U through which notes and highlights from a book can be reviewed in the iTunes U app.

Commercial iBooks textbooks are a marketing head fake. They're the equivalent of carbon fibre buggy whips. iTunes U is the game changer. Put iBooks Author and iTunes U into the hands of great teachers, put iPads in their students hands, put them all in a room together then step back and see what happens. That's the ballgame.

The full piece is over at Macworld.