Tuesday, January 31, 2012

iBooks 2, Author iBooks, iTunes U: the iPad in all classrooms

A press conference in New York, presented by Phil Schiller keynote this was not quite ordinary for Apple. Dedicated to education, privileged sector of Apple, he witnessed the presentation of two iBooks, Author iBooks and iTunes U transformed into an application, a complete ecosystem in an attempt to impose the iPad in movie classroom and lecture halls.
Address the problems of American education

Apple has always felt invested with an educational mandate: Steve Wozniak of Apple II distributed in schools in his district and has always been a teacher, Steve Jobs has built Apple as NeXT and rebuilt companies working very closely with educational stakeholders.

The presentation by Phil Schiller logically began with an overview of the education system primary and secondary U.S., as much maligned as its university system is admired. American children are ranked 17th best players, best mathematicians 21st and 23rd best scientists in the world, a disappointing figure in front of the stature of the country: "We all want to do better," lamented Schiller.

The repetition rate is another concern: 30% of college and high school students to repeat, a figure that rises to 40% in less favored areas. "Teachers need help - and we tried to see how Apple could provide solutions," said the vice president of marketing for Apple, which of course made the iPad as the most appropriate response, "he been the subject number 1 on the wish list of gifts for teens at Christmas. "

A true white sheet on which dumped the contents, the large screen of the iPad it is true for him, a rich offer: 20 000 educational applications, and many books in the iBookstore.

Author iBooks: the HyperCard textbooks

The iPad will be both the binder and the digital manual for students of the future - at least if the initiative is followed by Apple. According to Phil Schiller, the good old paper manual is not particularly convenient to carry, nor sustainable nor practical to use - but its content is of incomparable richness.

The iPad would instead be incredibly convenient, portable and durable (according to Phil Schiller) - but the challenge would be to provide quality content.

This is where editors come in. The king format for digital publishing ePub is theoretically easier to create a web page. In practice, however (and we've been there with our two eBooks ...), this step is often a nightmare, the tools being unsuitable and various implementations. To change this, an application for creating digital textbooks mixture of Pages, Keynote and iWeb.

This application to the classic for those who use Apple tools to create manuals enriched WYSIWYG. Several models are provided, and you can add numerous interactive elements: image galleries, video, Keynote presentations, interactive images, 3D objects, HTML elements, and even sets of questions / answers.

One can transform each word entered the lexicon, which provides a definition, and the software allows you to place all the items freely. It exports to then provide a package to iTunes Producer for publication in the iBookstore: Author iBooks therefore generates ePub files 3 to fixed layout, a choice that allows you to create great ... but heavy files. The first textbooks available weigh at least a gigabyte, the heaviest (the age-old biology textbook used as a perfect demonstration of digital textbooks) reaching no less than 2.77 GB.

Best of all, Author iBooks is free and available in the Mac App Store (for OS X Lion). It is not limited to the creation of books: the authors of books will be used extensively illustrated. Like most of Apple's WYSIWYG tools, it will look clean and optimize the underlying code, the point where we will have the chance to explore in a comprehensive test. But in the meantime, we will welcome the release of a simple and complete tool finally eBook advanced: it is a real need for publishers and authors is finally filled.

Note: the package. IBooks iBook Author is generated by a de facto proprietary format. We can nevertheless extract the original ePub 3, which will be readable on other devices - subject to their successful implementation of standards, and the publisher has not added DRM in iTunes Producer. We will verify this in our test.

iBooks 2: manuals, but still not on Mac

The manuals, currently available only in the United States, were designed by the three industry leaders: Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They are available in a new section of the iBookstore, and logically together a new version of iBooks.

iBooks 2 supports the latest innovations of the ePub format 3, so these new textbooks. It can handle several fingers on tape to open an interactive object, it sweeps from one page to another, you pinch to zoom or close a chapter, etc.. We find the interface for reading electronic books to fixed layout, the same also that the reading lamp PDF iBooks ... but also a huge inspiration of the late tools Push Pop Press. This start-up mounted by former Apple had made the digital book of Al Gore "Our Choice" before leaving to work for Facebook. Their work has clearly not been lost ...

A bold word is a word associated with a definition: tapped to view it. All the words in an index is grouped to form a glossary. Unlike paper manuals, these digital textbooks have ... a search engine.

iBooks 2 can highlight passages (several colors are available) and take notes. An interface can now quickly navigate in the notes and read them again.

Notes and important words can be processed automatically in virtual index cards for review. iBooks 2 is available in the App Store.

iTunes U: the virtual classroom of Apple

Apple has also, through the voice of Eddy Cue, introduced in iTunes U. It uses the popular educational section of the iTunes Store and adds features that transform classroom and text book.

Teachers can post in the iTunes U to provide such duties, the courses are built into the application. It will, however, whether the virtualization of course - a professor teaching a course in an empty classroom, students only behind a iPad - in the future. iTunes U, again, is available in the App Store.

In conclusion

Apple recalls some event particular attachment to the world of education. Author with iTunes, it hits hard in the publishing field, being the first to offer - free! - A tool for creating rich books. The iTunes U initiative raises more questions than it provides solutions, but it has the potential to bring new uses in teacher always looking for new ways to stimulate their students.

Obviously, this attachment is not free: most users will not tamper with Author iBooks their files for other platforms include the iPad. These new tools are designed to strengthen the position of Apple in the educational world, she is already the company the strongest foothold. The Mac, which owns approximately 25% market share in higher education, is here joined by the iPad with the desire that he will one day become a must for students ... and therefore a must for future consumers. Comprehensive program.

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