If you’re not familiar, xCode is Apples suite of software that is required to develop iOS apps. If you wish to create a multi-touch app for iOS then you will need to know how to use xCode and program in Objective-C. While this is a bold endeavor, it is a massive time and learning commitment that most teachers can’t commit to. The average teacher with a creative and pedagogically sound idea for an app may never see it realized.

iBooks Author is Apples standard for e-publishing. It is free in the Mac Appstore and is everything BUT ‘standard’ when it comes to delivering a polished interactive iBook. The WYSIWYG interface makes it easy to drag and drop text, images, media, and interactive elements on to it’s pages and export a multi-touch book with a push of a button. While digital books may not be the app envisioned by the teacher, they do offer great benefits to student learning and in a way that is interactive and “app-like”.

Consider the following.

1. Two years ago, the same time iBooks2 and iBooks Author were released, Apple claimed  it had over 20,000 education related iOS apps and over  500,000 pieces of open educational content available in iTunesU.  

2. As of February 2013, Apple declared there were more than 8 million iPads dedicated to education in circulation.  

3. The release of Mavericks OS X in October 2013 amplified the viewing potential of books made with iBooks Author with the launch of iBooks for Mac.

4. Today the Appstore holds 65,000+ apps related to education and iTunesU has doubled in size containing almost an equal number of k-12 courses as it does post secondary courses.

What about the iBookstore?

 Shouldn’t ‘books’ and ‘textbooks’ be a valuable part of  the education ecosystem?

Exploring the iBookstore for educational multi-touch content is underwhelming and disappointing. Sure, you’ll find the full blown iBooks made by major publishing companies. For the most part, these ‘textbooks’ are making some progress from their original static PDF format and becoming much more interactive. However, they are still full blown ‘textbooks’.  They are massive in ‘weight’ (storage space), costly (yup-even at $14.99), impersonalized, and still written like a textbook.

What you won’t find a lot of (although there are some instances), are the smaller more granular sized books that are created by individual teachers around a particular unit, theme, or lesson of study.

Here’s the point.

The massive advances in Open Educational Resources, the continual growth of 1:1 iPad and MacBook environments, and equal access to the authoring tools and publication space as major textbook publishers are creating a perfect scenario for teachers and districts to author their own high quality multi-touch content.

There is great appeal to moving away from static, large scale curriculum and towards a more dynamic granular size curriculum that is created and owned by the teacher and or district. All stakeholders in education stand to benefit from this transition.

On the micro level individual students using teacher created multi-touch books will continue to learn in a more self directed state from the same classroom teacher they see on a regular basis. In addition, iBooks foster multiple styles of learning allowing for text, images, videos, and interactives to guide the students conceptions.

On the macro level schools and districts will be able to move away from costly printed or digital curriculum. Allowing them to repurpose money for technology, professional development, or student services.

Is this transition really possible?

I guess I am going to leave this question unanswered for the moment. I think the fact that we are asking the question is evidence that the opportunity exists and therefore should be a goal worth striving for.

But then again, this is just my opinion. I would be happy to hear yours.


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