iBooks Textbooks in elementary, middle, and highschool classrooms

iBooks Textbooks are now available in the US. Apple’s version of the e-textbook is another reason why we need iPads in the classroom.

Senior vice president Phil Schiller led us through Apple’s special event for educators today at the Guggenheim Museum, New York City.

iBooks Textbooks have a lot of potential for the K-12 classroom:

iBooks Textbooks in Elementary, Middle and High Schools

Beyond the standard rhetoric about student engagement and inspiring kids to want to learn, as a classroom teacher, I really enjoy Apple’s take on digital textbooks.

Schiller points out that teens want the iPad:

  • Thin and light,
  • powerful,
  • instant on,
  • all-day battery life,
  • affordable (“not only for families, but for schools” – not sure how much I agree with that one,) and
  • fun and engaging to use

Apparently, teachers want the iPad as well. Hundreds of thousands of books in the iBooks store and “There are now over 1.5 million iPads in use in education institutions and over 1000 and one-to-one programs.” (video 7:30)

Traditional Textbooks compared to iBooks Textbooks on the iPad:

Apple is reinventing traditional textbooks with their iBooks textbooks. Regular textbooks are heavy, they get worn out, and they’re expensive ($60+ per textbook).

Compare that with iBooks Textbooks which are…

  • portable (on your iPad and you can automatically download iBooks across all of your iOS devices.)
  • durable (well, as durable as an iPad is)
  • interactive
  • searchable
  • current (new content can get downloaded as your iBooks Textbooks gets updated. The author can keep the content current and up-to-date, unlike a traditional textbook which goes out of date the moment it gets printed. This content can stay current even after it’s been deployed to students)
  • great content.

Oh, and Apple is setting high school iBooks Textbooks at $14.99 or less and once you buy the book, it’s yours forever.

  • Students get their own copy. Books are always up to date.
  • Once students download it, it’s their own copy and they don’t have to return it to the school. Even if they get a new device later they can download the book again.
  • One click purchasing whether the student purchases the textbook or whether the school gives them a redemption code. (This means that students can have their own textbooks at home, instead of lugging back heavy textbooks to and from school or class.)
  • It’s easy to purchase – click on the iBooks store and the categories button called textbook. (Currently only available in the US)
  • One click purchasing system – you own the book forever. You can even download it again from the cloud if you need to (21:20)

iBooks 2 is a free download.

iBooks – Apple
iBooks - Apple

Reasons why teachers and schools should consider using iBooks Textbooks instead of traditional printed textbooks

Roger Rosner, VP of Productivity Software, does a great job showcasing why elementary and high school teachers should consider iBooks Textbooks. (10:47 on the video.)

iBooks Textbooks are easy to navigate

  • They’re easy to find / organized: iBooks Textbooks live in your iBooks 2 app.
  • There’s an (annoying) video intro, but you can skip it just by swiping to get to the table of contents.
  • You can use multitouch gestures to navigate the iBooks textbook:
    • Swipe the bottom to flip through the page thumbnails of the chapter
    • Swipe above to flip through the chapters.
    • Tap on a page thumbnail to get into the book and then you can swipe to get to the next page.

iBooks Textbooks can have interactive content embedded (and not just pictures like in a regular textbook.)

  • Pinch interactive experiences to make it full screen and you can zoom in to see animated 3-D models of structures inside of a cell…
  • When you’re done, pinch to close and return to the text.
  • Textbooks can include animations, videos, etc.
  • You can manipulate 3-D models in your iBooks Textbooks.
  • You can swipe your finger across the bottom of images (for example, to demonstrate the density of cells.)
  • You can swipe through some images to see swipe actually a gallery of images. You can pinch-it open to make it full screen to flip through the slideshow.

iBooks Textbooks offer two different complete reading experiences:

  • In landscape mode, you can see the page spread out with the images embedded into the paragraphs.
  • You can focus on reading the text by switching to portrait mode. All of the interactive items show up on the left sidebar and all of the text paragraphs shows up on the right. Just pinch to get back to the table of contents to navigate the book.

You can search for key vocabulary in an iBooks Textbook or use the glossary

  • Bolded keywords in paragraphs can be tapped on to open up a glossary pop-up window.
  • You can view the entire glossary at once. There are also indexed links back into the book (similar to a regular paper index, but with one touch digital links – no flipping through pages.)
  • The entire content is searchable. Skimming and scanning has a whole new meaning because you can type the word in the search bar and the iBooks textbook will list all of the places that the vocabulary word shows up (as well as the sentence that it’s used in.) Click on the sentence and you immediately jump to that page in the textbook.
  • The search field is smart enough that if the teacher says everyone go to page 34, you just type 34 and you can instantly jump to page 34.

iBooks Textbooks have a few features to help students study

  • The review questions at the end of the chapter can be interactive multiple-choice questions with immediate feedback. You can also have matching exercises with drag-and-drop interactivity.
  • Highlighting and notetaking – swipe over sentences with your finger. You can tap to highlight to change color or to add a note.
  • If you tap to bring up the toolbar and tap to bring up the notes, you can see all of your highlights and notes in one place.
  • They’ve also added a cool feature to automatically turn your notes into study flashcards (19:36) On one side is the highlighted text from the textbook. If you tap that, the flash card will flip and you can see your note on the back.
  • (Glossary key vocabulary words are automatically turned into flashcards so you don’t have to manually create them on paper.) You can also shuffle them into random order.

Why iBooks Textbooks are better than the Pearson eText iPad app?

VP Roger Rosner said it best: “Superfast, super fluid navigation totally critical to making a great interactive textbook experience.” (16:28)

  • I find swiping through an iBooks Textbook (i.e. Life on Earth) a lot quicker than swiping through a textbook on the Pearson eText iPad app. (Each page on the Pearson app would take a few seconds to load.)
  • Cooler interactivity built into the demo iBooks Textbook. (I wonder when Pearson and the other publishers convert their textbooks into iBooks Textbooks, if there will be any difference between the iBooks Textbooks, the existing Pearson etextbooks, and the printed textbook versions.)
  • iBooks shows you a quick list of all of your notes in a single spot, although You can highlight sentences and type notes in both iBooks Textbooks and the Pearson eText iPad app, but
  • It’s also easier to highlight text in iBooks Textbooks – just use your finger to swipe and select text. On the Pearson eText iPad app, you have to hold your finger down, select highlight or note, and then adjust the highlight field to select the area you want.
  • You can buy iBooks Textbooks with one-click purchasing through the regular iBooks store. In other words, you can download your iBooks Textbooks right away (although depending on the size of the textbook and the speed of your connection, it may take a while to download.) Once I ordered my eTextbook from Pearson, they had to mail a printed card. They couldn’t email the access code. (See FAQ – “Can access codes be sent electronically allowing a teacher to cut and paste the code“)
  • Once you buy iBooks Textbooks, it’s yours forever. Compare that to buying a Pearson textbook which charges an annual subscription.
    • If you had several kids going through the school system, buy an iBooks Textbook and all of your kids can use it.
    • If you’re a teacher teaching the same grade, you have to buy the Pearson digital e-textbook every year. (Their pricing model may change since Pearson is partnered with Apple to produce iBooks Textbooks.)

How do you create iBooks Textbooks?

iBooks Author looks like such an easy content layout tool that I’m sure students could create their own digital ebooks (cookbooks, picture books, etc) or iBooks textbooks.

Schiller says in the video (32:15): “We wanted to make sure that we could get this into the hands of… every teacher who ever wanted to simply make a lesson plan to share with their children.” Although I’m a PC guy, this is the app that will push me over to the darkside.

iBooks Author is a free download.

iBooks Author – Apple
iBooks Author - Apple

How hard is it to make your own iBooks Textbook?

Rosner creates an iBooks textbook (23:43) in just over 5 minutes, just by clicking and dragging (although he does have all of the content already made.)

  •  There are Apple designed templates which are great starting points to create a book.
  • You can drag-and-drop images and content.
  • There is a place to insert the (annoying) intro media video.
  • If you have content already created in Word or Pages, just drag the word file into the finder and iBooks Author will automatically use the styles to automatically create sections and headers in your iBooks textbook.
  • Once you add an image, you can move it around and you get alignment guides – super simple.
  • You add widgets to add interactivity. (For example, the image gallery to put in a series of images.)
  • If you have a 3-D model, just drag it into the iBooks textbook. (They use Keynote decks and simply insert the file into the iBooks textbooks.)
  • The glossary creation toolbar lets you select words and easily add key concepts. Switch to the glossary mode to type definitions and add images.
  • The iBooks Author app automatically creates the different portrait and landscape modes.
  • There’s one click publishing to the iBooks store.
  • There’s a one click preview button that lets you see what your iBooks Textbooks will actually look like on your iPad (if you have your iPad connected to your iMac.)

This is the app that will get me to buy a Mac.

Now I just need to figure out if there’s a way to have private iBooks Textbooks that only my students can access (instead of publishing them to the entire world in the iBooks bookstore.

Where do you find iBooks Textbooks?

Apple partnered with Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who are responsible for over 90% of the textbooks sold in the US. They are also working with DK publishing.

Other questions and possibilities with iBooks Textbooks

iTunes U allows colleges and universities to deliver lectures and content to anyone using iTunes, iPad, iOS, etc.

  • Create full online courses with everything you need to take a class: the syllabus, the reading material, the lectures, the apps.
  • Apple just launched an ITunes U app.
  • iTunes U is now open for K-12 schools
Is there a way to create private iTunes U courses just for your students, and how hard is it? (This would only be worth it if you had a 1:1 iPad program or a mobile lab / class set of iPads.)

iOS5 allows you to automatically download your iBooks (Textbooks) across all of your devices

So, if you buy one book, how many iPads can you deploy it on?

  • This isn’t really a practical solution for class sets of iPads because the power of iBooks Textbooks comes from the ability to turn it into a note-taking tool.
  • iCloud pushes your bookmarks, highlights, notes across all devices so if one student made a note, all students will have that note.
  • (Sounds good, but if a student makes an inappropriate comment, all students get that inappropriate comment.)

 Can you create private iBooks Textbooks for your students

  • Can teachers use iBooks Author to make lessons as iBooks Textbooks and then deploy updated lesson content to their students?
  • Can you create content that is private to your school? (Do you really want students and strangers leave book reviews about your class in the ibooks store?)

This post was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 Premium Wireless. What is Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

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  • There are 1274 words in this post. Dragon made 27 word errors. So, we had an accuracy of 97.9% in this document.
  • If you include punctuation and capitalization errors, Dragon made an additional 5 punctuation and capitalization errors. So, we had an accuracy of 97.5% in this document.

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