Following Apple’s big push into education with the announcement of the new “iBooks 2.0” and “iBooks Author” platform, new reports claim 27 German textbook publishers are banding together to combat Apple with a digital textbook platform of their own. The platform will launch in time for the 2012 to 2013 school year.
According to a report from German language publication Boersenblatt.net (via eBookNewser), the unspecified German textbook publishers will unveil the new platform in Hannover during the Didacta Education Trade Fair from Feb. 14 to Feb. 18. The report seems to claim the platform is backed and developed in conjunction with the Educational Media Association. There is not a ton of details, but the reports claimed the platform would be completely open and available to all vendors and publishers, along with being supported on all devices and operating systems. According to eBookNewser: “There’s going to be both online and offline modes, and teachers and students will be able to purchase eBooks from different publishers and manage them on a shelf.”
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In related textbook news, one of Apple’s biggest educational publishing partners for the new iBooks 2.0 platform, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is not choosing Apple’s new textbook platform to deliver all of its educational content. The company announced today it would kick off yet another pilot program for its HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 iOS app, this time with students in Powhatan County, Henrico County, and Arlington public schools. The app features what is arguably a more robust experience for the same content included in HMH’s new “Algebra 1” iBooks textbook ($14.99), but it also includes access to 400 video tutorials, a graphing calculator, and a student response system and comes with a nearly $60 price tag through in-app purchases. HMH clearly is not relying on iBooks textbooks as its only method of delivering content to iOS devices.
Adoption of the iBooks Author platform for classrooms could suffer a blow in the United Kingdom where government is considering changes to the copyright system that would prevent about 18,500 writers from being compensated for material used in educational environments. According to a report from the Guardian, hundreds of authors are currently protesting to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society to stop the proposal, which could result in lost income of more than £10,000 per year for many writers. The goal is to lessen the burden of annual fees paid by schools for using copyrighted materials, but the proposal noted it could also “undermine the financial incentives that encourage the creation of new educational works.”