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.