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Apple Launches a War on High School Textbooks

Written by Gary North on January 24, 2012

Liberals have controlled textbooks for a hundred years. The cost of setting up a publoshing company was huge. The distribution system was controlled by big media.

That game is about to end. Here’s why. The old textbooks are about to be wiped out by multimedia textbooks. Cost per book: $15, maximum.

Apple announced what it’s calling “iBooks 2” during its media event in New York on Thursday, a textbook software program that allows textbook-makers and instructors to create rich, interactive teaching media for the iPad. As we first reported earlier this week, the announcement is akin to “GarageBand for e-books,” giving authors access to easy-to-use tools on the computer in order to create multimedia content for the iPad.

Books created for iBooks 2 can have all manner of media attached, complete with multitouch capabilities. The company listed numerous ways in which iBooks 2 authors can create engaging content for students, including multiple-choice questions with immediate feedback within the text, the ability to make notes and highlights that can be found in a single location as note cards or sprinkled throughout the text, ways to explore embedded graphics and 3D animations, full-motion movies, and more.

This is the textbook publishers worst nightmare. It will save schools a fortune.

Upscale schools will have digital access. Only inner-city schools won’t.

But how does one create a textbook for iBooks 2? Apple also announced a Mac application on Thursday called “iBooks Author,” which Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller described as “powerful and feature-rich.” The interface, as demoed to the audience, is similar to Apple’s iWork applications and allows authors to format books through WYSIWYG interaction and format the pages in a variety of ways.

Here’s the good news.

The price of the books is capped at $14.99 or less (the company specifically said “high school” books, so it’s unclear as to whether the cap applies to all books), though instructors can sell individual chapters at what Schiller described as a “very aggressive price.”

It gets better.

But that’s not all! Apple brought out its Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue to discuss a new iTunes U app for iPad. The app will allow college and university students to download full courses from Apple’s iTunes U section on iTunes and view them in an easy-to-use manner. The app lets students navigate through a course overview and outline, and professors can customize their course offerings by adding office hours and credits as well. Instructors can post notes that get sent to students’ iPads and even make assignments through the app.

Like the offerings through iBooks 2, the iTunes U app allows for materials beyond the usual, boring college texts. Instructors can add things like audio, various documents (such as Keynote presentations or PDFs), and even other apps for students to use. Cue pointed out that numerous universities are already using iTunes U, such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, and University of Paris. Up to this point, however, K-12 schools have been excluded from iTunes U, but Cue said that was changing on Thursday, with the company allowing K-12 institutions to create iTunes U offerings as well.

The teachers union is about to get hammered. How will they fight this?

Home schoolers will get involved. What advantage will tax-funded schools be able to offer? Just beaten up print-only textbooks.

The last monopoly of liberalism is going to fall.

Continue Reading on arstechnica.com

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11 thoughts on “Apple Launches a War on High School Textbooks

  1. Excellent article. However there is one glaring flaw; the second sentence in this article misspells "publishing". It's a good idea to proof-read before posting things! The extra minute or two spent is lot easier than having credibility challenged over careless grammatical errors.

  2. "The last monopoly of liberalism is going to fall." Yea!!!!

  3. American History revisited …

  4. My problem with this is large. School textbook authors have no oversight. The current spate of hard cover books are riddled with factual errors, revisions to the truth and history. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are atrocious. How can we expect our children to learn properly when right now, the average junior high school student cannot identify the U.S. on a map or describe who Adolph Hitler was and what was the holocaust. This, in the moment when a presidential candidate says he would not have helped the Jews nor worked to free concentration camp prisoners.

  5. biggreenmess says:

    Content is everything. We can hardly trust anyone connected with our text books these days. A 6th grade history book has a small photo of Pilgrims, with a cutline saying Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact. That was the extent of the study of one of our important American documents!

  6. You have nothing better to do?

  7. daveyrotten says:

    Doesn't one aspect of this bother anyone else? Apple is cleverly setting itself up to control the whole process from content creation thru distribution thru the hardware to read the content (textbooks) on. I've noticed I don't really own music I've purchased on iTunes. I must always be tethered to the Apple mother ship.

  8. This is media 101 and spelling is not necessary because if you could read it and understand it then the rest of us should also be able to read it and understand don't you think

  9. Regardless HOW the information is presented to students,I'm VERY concerned about the accuracy of that information. We're already seeing evidence,in black and white,of history being rewritten drastically enough to completely CHANGE the story,just to "not disenfranchise African American,Hispanic,or other minorities' role in History." With the CHANGING of the facts of History,we are close to having our OWN recorded History changed to nothing more than a "Politically Corrected" fiction novel. THIS is what's critically important for America's students.

  10. Boring or not, I prefer to read the text…and how am I to know whether the electronic equipment is transmitting ACCURATE information, especially in history, to the student? While many youngsters know how to use these new-fangled electronic devices, others don't because they do not have the means to purchase or rent that equipment. Many adults don't know how to use these devices either, so how are parents going to be able to check out the text the children are reading from these gadgets? Colleges and universities are not always teaching the true facts either; just check out saul alinski's classes and those of his ilk. They have bastardized the history of the US to suit themselves so that they are more glorified as tenured professors. It's disgusting.

  11. Walt_Hutchens says:

    Be careful what you wish for. This will indeed break the stranglehold of publishing companies who have in recent years often seen factual material through a politically correct lens. Instead, it'll be possible for every state — in heavily populated areas even every school district to adjust the facts as they see them. At best your kids will be learning from what amounts to Wikipedia. Maybe you want creation science taught instead of evolution, an emphasis on the Latino contribution to American history, and health books talking about the advantages of gay sex and same-sex couples as parents … if you don't, you'd better stay close to your school board.

    This will be cheaper, it may better engage generations for which video games have formed the brain wiring, but it will largely cut our national grownups out of the textbook content loop.