Yesterday, after the Apple education event, I decided to download iBooks Author to see how easy it would be to convert some of my online learning modules that I created with SoftChalk for use on the iPad. For the most part, I was simply able to copy and paste from the webpages that I’d already created in SoftChalk into iBooks Author. The layout is really clean. The chapter titles, subheadings, etc. in the iBooks Author template required me to re-think my organization a bit, but that wasn’t a problem. When I previewed my one learning module on my wife’s iPad, it looked pretty cool. I don’t necessarily see iBooks Author as a replacement for the learning modules I’ve created for use in Angel, but I do see that I might be able to create alternative versions if students would rather read what I’ve written with their iPads instead of their laptops or desktop computers. I guess many students could read my modules now on their iPads, but I was really impressed with how the iBooks Author software improved the overall look of my webpage modules on the iPad. Another advantage: the new iBooks app on the iPad now allows for easy annotating and highlighting of textbooks, encouraging active reading over passive reading. One problem: As with SoftChalk, iBooks Author contains Widgets that allow for easy media integration, but I couldn’t figure out how to embed video from YouTube or Internet Archive. Instead, it seemed as if I was restricted to only including video that was already on my hard drive. I only played with iBooks Author for about 45 minutes yesterday, so more exploration is probably in order. Some further info on iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and the more comprehensive iTunes U:
iBooks Author: http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/
iTunes U: http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/
Apple’s education page with a 7-minute overview video over electronic textbooks: http://www.apple.com/education/#video-textbooks
CNET has a useful video demonstrating what a student can do with a sample electronic textbook now available. The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a skeptical view of Apple’s entire venture into the e-textbook market.