Apple is inviting the media to a special event at the Gugenheim Museum in New York City on January 19th for, “an education announcement.” Whenever Apple makes this kind of announcement speculation starts running wild about what they might be rolling out.
Here is my wish list of what I hope Apple announces on January 19th:
- Updated ePub creation tools – Pages comes bundled with the awesome feature of being able to create ePubs that you can view in iBooks but the workflow is a little awkward and the ePubs suffer from some odd formatting and usability restrictions. Enhanced tools to help educators create iBooks would be awesome: I’d like to see a streamlined workflow as well as the ability to embed bonus content like interactive images (think cell diagram with labels that appear) and quizzes.
- iTunesU for teacher created iBooks – iTunesU is a remarkable distribution platform for schools and universities who produce their own academic video and audio content. Enhanced content creation tools (see above) would be made even more attractive with a good way to distribute content to others.
- Announce a partnership with Inkling – In my opinion Inkling is the future of eTextbooks. Apple should announce a partnership with this small company and massively increase the number of titlesavailable on the platform.
- iCloud for textbooks – Allow notes to sync with the cloud so you can share them with your classmates and teachers. Also it would be nice to not have to store every chapter of every textbook on your device: allow us to download individual chapters as needed.
- Reboot the Apple Distinguished Educator Program – There hasn’t been a domestic ‘class’ of Apple Distinguished Educators in the US for a couple of years. There are thousands upon thousands of teachers doing great work with Apple products, let’s shine the spotlight on some of them!
- Highlight Challenge Based Learning – Sure eTextbooks are cool, but really isn’t technology in education more about what we can do with information rather than making better textbooks? CBL is an amazing curricular idea that begins from the assumption that student-directed learning is the core of good education.
UPDATE 1/17/12: The more I’ve been thinking about this and listening to the recent rumors that Apple is going to release a ‘GarageBand for eBooks’ to digitally destroy textbook publishing I feel the need to update this post. Everything in these recent rumors seems to line up with my first point above but I’m concerned about the distribution model. What I’m referring to is the current difference between Newsstandand iBooks. Right now the iBookstore is pretty much the only game in town for publishers who want to get their eBooks on iOS. Sure you can get the Kindle or Google Books apps but as for an integrated experience iBooks is the way to go. On the other hand magazine publishers are free to produce their own apps and then Apple aggregates them in Newsstand.
I’m really hoping Apple chooses this second model of distribution for eTextbooks so they don’t force innovators out of the space. It’s hopeful that Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis is quoted in the article. In fact as I’ve mentioned in point two above it would be even cooler to open up the distribution model to everyone!
How hard is it to make an eTextbook using cheap software and Creative Commons licensed media? Pretty easy it turns out:
That’s just my list of what I hope Apple will announce next week. What are you hoping for? Let us know in the comments!