YU 2.0

iBooks 2 announced! Great for Education; Game Changer for Jewish education.

EBooks are not new. In fact, the first was created in 1971 by Michael S. Hart who typed the declaration of independence into a computer. You can read more about the history of eBooks here. From eBooks, we got the more recent interactive textbooks that exist online as well as on our wonderful mobile devices such as the iPad. Anyone who was at the Guggenheim Museum in New York this morning heard the announcement that Apple is committed to the further development of these interactive textbooks with the delivery of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

This morning, I updated to iBooks 2 and downloaded the interactive textbook "Life on Earth" to see it in action. was first greeted by a blockbuster style video introduction which hooked me immediately. Then I was brought to a "welcome" page with a table of contents beautifully laid out with vivid graphics. The same vivid graphics could be found throughout the book along with wonderful videos embedded directly into the page, 3D animations floating around that I could play with and pictures I can click on for more information. However, with all that said, much of what you have already seen with other interactive textbooks is not new in iBooks 2. I was able to zoom and swish, highlight and notate, and click on and stream.

This is not something I take for granted, but it is not new. Although, it is new to iBooks in that it now supports interactive textbooks where its predecessor did not. So, thank you to Apple for catching up. What I did notice as a wonderful new addition to iBooks is the ability to highlight and notate and then have them show up as flashcards for studying. This is a very cool feature.In fact, there is no criticism of Apple warranted for coming late to the etextbook game, because iBooks 2 is not the real innovation from Apple. It is iBooks Author.

Until now interactive textbooks, like textbooks in general, were created by the textbook publishers. Apple has realized that the true educational resource is not the corporations, but rather the teachers in the classroom. iBooks Author gives the teachers the creative power they deserve. It allows anyone to use Apple iWorks along with Author or Author itself to create their own interactive textbooks or materials. I have not had the time today to try out Author, but as soon as I do I will let you know how it is. However, the idea of it is profound. This will be great for any educator who wants some flexibility in adding to a standard curriculum or creating their own. In Judaics, this will be a game changer.

As Jewish education varies from school to school, many Jewish educators are on their own when it comes to curriculum. We lack standards and in turn lack standard materials. It is very unlikely we will see many Judaic interactive textbooks being produced anytime soon as the commercial market knows adoption will not be widespread. And while I believe a set or sets of standards for our Day Schools is necessary, this is not the current reality in which we teach. So, it is left to the Judaic teacher to develop their own materials. However, I am sure the idea of creating a 21st Century interactive Judaic textbook for your Judaic class seems impossible. Have no fear! Apple has now made it easy for any Judaic teacher with a Mac to create their own interactive Judaic materials in minutes. Best of all the Author program is free.

I look forward to converting some of my materials into interactive ones and I hope you are as well. Thank you Apple for recognizing who the true experts are.

Views: 228

Comment by Noam Davidovics on January 19, 2012 at 4:29pm

Looking forward!!!

Comment by Steven Penn on January 19, 2012 at 11:50pm

looks great  thanks for sharing

Comment by Ariel Margolis on January 20, 2012 at 6:02am

Thanks for sharing! I am wondering how you (and other educators) use interactive textbooks and curricula when it comes to differentiation and modification all the while making sure that students' "emotional IQ" are not diminished. I recently purchased an interactive science textbook w/curricula that previous editions were only made in hardcover. I would have to copy and then make modifications to the worksheets/assignments; I would then put a cover page on the packet of resources and assignments with a tiny marking that would mean nothing to the students but would help me identify at what level of differentiation and modification this specific student had. Now, it can be done electronically, I am unsure how to make the differentiated and modified assignments available to the appropriate students without the possibility of making any student (feel uncomfortable or upset that he/she has modified work (and equally important are the parents and how to to pitch it to them). Thoughts?

Comment by Jane Taubenfeld Cohen on January 20, 2012 at 6:44am

Ariel, I think that the key is helping kids see that they are part of experimenting with a new platform and that you are trying to find the right packets for them, based on that.   This opens up the possibilities of multiple intellegences and helps them see it as cutting edge.  It also (and the materials will only get better over the next few years) allows you to try multiple blended ways to use the curriculum.   We heard an online teacher speak at the conference who was excellent (Kristen Kipp) and she said emphatically that it is all about the teacher. 

Comment by Eliezer Jones on January 20, 2012 at 10:58am

Ariel, I would agree with Jane about the importance of how we present differentiation. Too often differentiation is presented as negative modifications made for students who are not at grade level. If the framework is, like Jane said, focused on multiple intelligences and truly gearing the instruction to each students strengths I think you would have support. Additionally, in regards to this platform, unlike a traditional (I can't believe I am using the term "traditional" in this context) interactive textbook, you can modify it on the fly, add sections specific to individual students, or create multiple versions for different students.

Comment by Reuven Werber on January 21, 2012 at 2:14pm
Does the new Apple ebook deal really hearald a new era? The EULA seems to be very prohibitive for ebooks creaated with iBook software, only distributable via Apple. Does the software support Ivrit?
See http://www.hackeducation.com/2012/01/19/apple-and-the-textbook-coun...
Shavua Tov,
Comment by Eli Kannai on January 24, 2012 at 8:41am

"Palginan Dibura": Apple did what it always does:

a) helped the creation of something good, which will help change the industry in a positive way.

b) blocked it in a closed garden, with a price tag most will not pay.

So yes, this is good news. We shall wait a few minutes for the open world to build the less expensive, more open in nature tablet text book ecology and enjoy.

Comment by Maccabee Avishur on February 1, 2012 at 1:11pm

Standards and Benchmarks do exist for Tanach, and we've used them in my school to great success. My school is now working on S&B for Talmud; these will guide our curriculum development and instruction. However, because S&B in Tanach and Talmud are generally skills based (depending on the teaching orientation of a particular school), and not content based, there is little chance that curricular materials can be developed that can be shared widely by different schools. In other words, not all schools teach the same parshiyot in Tanach, and even fewer schools teach the same sugyot in Talmud.  This makes is hard to share curricular materials and "textbooks."


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