Apple just had their big textbook announcement, and I figured I’d make a comment or two.
First, I’m looking forward to trying out the iBook Author tool. I don’t think it will revolutionize the field of textbooks, in much the same way that GarageBand did not revolutionize the music industry, but it’s always nice to have another free tool. I’m fairly experienced with InDesign, so my guess is that I’ll run into a lot of frustration with the limits of the program. I’m hoping that it will easily do things that InDesign does with great difficulty.
As for textbooks on the iPad, it’s particularly great that they’ve managed to wrangle the prices so low. If you’re thinking, “But iPads are expensive,” let me put it in perspective for you. The average textbook costs between $100 and $150, sometimes up to $200. You need to buy about four of them per semester, twice a year, for four years. That’s between $3200 and $6400. An iPad and some $15 textbooks seems pretty cheap in comparison, even if you replace the iPad after two years. I have no idea how they’ve convinced publishing companies to get on board with this. I’m looking forward to seeing some college textbooks there.
The iTunesU portion of the announcement is just a delivery system for things that are already out there. The integration is good; there’s nothing else new there.
All in all, it’s certainly not revolutionary; it will not “change the face of education.” Actually, that’s not a bad analogy, now that I think of it: this changes the face without changing the rest of the body. It’s still people doing the exact same thing as before, but on the iPad. It’s not a revolution, but it’s a nice evolutionary step. Streamlining, if you will. Apple’s fairly good at streamlining things.