Apple announces iBooks Author, a free Mac app for authoring interactive e-books

Apple’s education event is underway at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum where the company announced the “iBooks 2″ app, a major new version designed to help integrate the iPad into school curriculum. That was Apple’s first highlight of the event — reinventing textbooks. We have been given some interesting metrics, and now Schiller unveiled “iBooks Author.” It is a new (and free!) Mac app for authoring e-books.

“Authors are going to love to use iBooks Create to create not only textbooks, but any kind of book,” said Schiller. Roger Rosner, Apple’s vice president of Productivity Software and iWork took the stage to give an interesting demonstration. Upon choosing one of the templates that ship with the program, users can begin adding their own photos, movies, text and multi-touch widgets in a fashion similar to the Pages program.

The iBooks Author reflows text dynamically, WYSIWYG-style, as you drag page elements around. It also supports Microsoft Word format, and the app is clever enough to automatically create sections and headers and lay out the pages automatically when you drop a Word document onto the chapter. Additional tidbits are available after the break.

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iPad already has 20,000 education and learning apps, says Apple


Image courtesy of AllThingsD

Apple’s education event is underway at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, where Phil Schiller, the company’s vice president of worldwide marketing, provided an update on key metrics related to Apple’s education business. Remarking that the United States “is not at the top of industrialized nations,” Schiller said: “If you’re a freshman, you only have a 70 percent chance of graduating.”

After playing a video that outlined the problem with U.S. education today, Schiller said “no one person or company” could fix it all. Apple, of course, will try. The basis for such an ambitious undertaking, of course, is the iPad, which Schiller said was No. 1 on kids wish lists this holiday season. The goal is to help integrate the iPad into the curriculum.

However, the iPad is already strong in education. Here are some interesting metrics:

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Steve Jobs: ‘What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology’

With Apple’s entrance into the digital textbook space expected to take place tomorrow at its media event in New York City, a 1996 Steve Jobs interview from Wired gives us a glimpse into how the CEO viewed the potential for technology to transform education. Specifically, Jobs claimed the problems facing education were sociopolitical issues and unions, something he said “cannot be fixed with technology.” Jobs also discussed a new model for education in the interview, well over 10 years before his concept of free textbooks on iPads was revealed in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio.

Here’s an excerpt from the Wired interview:

I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.

It’s a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy.

As Wired pointed out, with Apple’s forthcoming push into education, the bureaucracies of teacher’s unions Jobs spoke of will likely be replaced with political issues facing state curriculum boards and standards requirements. According to special education policy researcher Sherman Dorn, the GarageBand for eBooks rumor could face hurdles, as Apple must meet strict standards required for technology used by federal governments (via Wired):

“Section 508 [of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act] (accessibility) complicates text GarageBand utopian visions,” Dorn says. Section 508 mandates that all electronic and information technology used by the federal government be equally accessible to users with disabilities. “We’ve been told multimedia requires captioning, scripts, etc.,” to meet the standards set by section 508, says Dorn. “Very labor-intensive.”

In the Wired interview, Jobs goes on to discuss a new model for education that would be similar to startups in the tech industry. Jobs imagined a world where parents are given a $4,400 voucher per year to pay for school. The result, “People would get out of college and say, ‘Let’s start a school.’ You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school.” Jobs explained:

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iPad 2.0 cameras reaffirmed, who are the iPad users?

COMPUTERWORLD: Fresh research from the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) offers us a few insights into the behavior of iPad users, suggesting the device may well diminish newspaper print sales in future. Overnight reports also confirm weve been on track with our predictions for the iPad 2.0, which, it appears, will indeed host cameras front and rear.

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