For many students, a smartphone or tablet has become an invaluable part of the tools they use in their studies, letting them communicate with teachers, perform research, manage their schedules, and generally stay connected. At an event in New York City this morning, Apple demonstrated new software aimed at bringing textbooks into the twenty-first century, introducing iBooks 2 and a new release of iTunes U.
Textbooks in iBooks 2 will take full advantage of the capabilities of iOS, engaging students through interactive content with all the input flexibility a multi-touch screen affords. Since the initial reading of a textbook is only a small portion of the educational experience, iBooks 2 is set up for some serious note-taking, supporting annotations, dictionary look-ups, and the creation of virtual note cards.
The first textbooks expected to be available for iBooks 2 will be high-school-level materials, generally priced at $15 or less. Apple’s already signed-on some major textbook publishers to ensure there’ll be a broad selection of titles available.
Changes to iTunes U are aimed at giving educators new ways to get their classes online, with the introduction of new curriculum management tools. Schools like Harvard and Yale have created coursework for the system, which supports similar extensive annotation features to those now in iBooks 2. Both iBooks 2 and iTunes U are available now in Apple’s App Store.