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Throughout his tenure at Apple, one of Steve Jobs’ abiding passions was education. It should hardly be surprising then that the tech giant announced two brand new initiatives aimed at completely updating education during a special event held in New York City.
The first initiative looks to completely reinvent the textbook with the launch of iBooks 2. Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller demonstrated the new iteration of iBooks using a biology textbook. The book included a number of interactive elements such as its own intro movie. In landscape mode the interactive elements appeared to be embedded in the text, while in portrait mode, the text ran down the middle with interactive features on the left.
The new format also allows for the inclusion of interactive reviews and quizzes at the end of every chapter, with immediate feedback if a question is answered incorrectly.
Additionally, people can use their fingers as a ready-to-go highlighter with note-taking capabilities. These notes and highlights can then reportedly be turned into flash cards to aid studying.
Apple says that people will be able to find these kind of books in the brand new textbook category of the iBook store and that they will be able to redownload deleted books from the cloud. That’s great for anyone with a penchant for losing textbooks.
As part of this initiative Apple launched iBooks Author, a brand new app that can be used for creating books.
The app reportedly uses a drag and drop system that allows you to add and preview media all in one place.
Even word files can be dragged and dropped into the app. Images can also be dragged straight in and resized to automatically create an interactive content.
You can also combine files from Keynote and iBooks 2 in iBooks Author to create your own interactive content from other content sources. If your iPad is connected to the app, which is completely free on the Mac App Store, Apple claims you can see your books being built-in real-time.
Schiller called it “the most advanced, most powerful, yet most fun e-book authoring tool ever created”.
Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff seemed equally enthused. “For those of you who remember going to school or have kids still in school, this is a game-changer,” he said.
The textbooks on the iBooks 2 platform will reportedly retail for $14.99 or less and can be constantly updated.
The Cupertino-based giant’s second big educational initiative can be found in a major update to iTunes U — a section of iTunes meant specifically for university use. The update includes a specific iTunes U app. Apple claims it will help teachers “reinvent the curriculum”. The newest version of iTunes U allows teachers to do everything from their iPads. In fact, Apple claims that the new version allows teachers to add all their course content from journals and textbooks to video, all in one place. Students meanwhile, reportedly have the option of streaming or downloading any video they need to watch from iTunes with the new app.
The full iTunes U offering will now be available to all schools running through from kindergarten to grade 12.