This morning at their “Education Event” in New York City, Apple unveiled some new apps that could prove to revolutionize education as we know it. One of the most exciting things introduced? Digital textbooks.
Today’s textbooks are not the ideal learning tool. They’re cumbersome, not very durable, not searchable, and in many cases such as American History books, are obsolete as soon as they are published. Enter iBooks 2, and the new iBookstore with digital textbooks.
The new format allowed me to interact with the material in ways never possible with a standard textbook. Video, animations, zoomable photos, interactive quizzes, all were available with the new format.
All highlights and notes can be turned into study cards. (Remember flash cards?) Even glossary terms can be turned into study cards. They can be shuffled too.
If the reader is overwhelmed with the multimedia possibilities, simply rotate the iPad, and they can then concentrate on the text in the book.
Immediate feedback is even available to ensure the student has comprehended the chapter materials.
Digital textbooks are a revolutionary and exciting way to encourage learning. Today’s students have been raised on television, movies, and video games, all of which are infinitely more interesting to them than a standard textbook. Ideally, digital textbooks will engage today’s students, and encourage them to learn and retain the information about the subjects they are studying.
Questions about these new textbooks remain. Will they encourage students to learn? Can they help reverse the high dropout numbers in high school? (During the event today it was said that today’s high school freshman only has a 70 percent chance of graduating.) How do we get digital textbooks into the hands of students who attend school in poorer school districts? Who pays for that?
Even with these unanswered questions, Apple’s new digital textbooks are an exciting step towards improving the way we educate our young people. Now and in the future.