January 23rd, 2012
02:05 AM GMT
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What better to revolutionize education than a company with a name like Apple? It almost seems destined. In fact, Phil Schiller, its senior VP of worldwide marketing, kicked off the event saying that "education is deep in the company's DNA," and he didn't waste any time showing exactly what he meant.

Partnering with major educational publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin, Apple showed off digital books that were visually beautiful with cool features like video intros from the author, 3D animation, photo galleries you can flip through and the ability to highlight and create your own study guide. Digital publishing is not new, but as usual Apple has taken the best of what is out there, refined it and made it ridiculously easy to access and use.

During the presentation of the new line of iBooks 2, iBooks Author and the iTunes U app, Apple had the mandatory, compelling testimonies from teachers starved for resources, but the digital books themselves were the stars. They made you want to look, read and play - which is exactly what a lesson book should do.

There is little doubt what students will prefer. These books catch up with all the other gadgets in their life. But the decision to shift to digital textbooks isn't up to students, it's up to school officials, and that may be Apple's biggest barrier to success.

School budgets are tight and let's face it - iPads are not cheap!  It is also not clear that schools have the technology staff and hardware to support a mass deployment.

Another point that may irritate some is that this is not a charitable undertaking. Apple is making the apps free and pricing the textbooks under $15, but there are big profits to be made by both Apple and the publishers.

I am not discounting those hurdles, but I am more optimistic about Apple's prospects for a simple reason: parents. I haven't bought an iPad for myself because it seems like a luxury, and I have other bills to pay, but there is no question in my mind I will find a way, if it means my kids can engage with math and science in a way I never could.  We know our kids need high-tech skills to compete in today's economy.  The question isn't whether we should be moving toward digital interactive books, it's figuring out how to make sure everyone's kids have access to them.

Check it out yourself - the textbooks are available in iBooks right now.  Let me know what you think.  Is this a game-changer?  What are your concerns?

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Filed under: AppleBusiness

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Greg

    The likes of Khan Academy is the future of education; not these ancient rips-you-off, money under the table, corrupt publishers.

    January 23, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  2. Stefán

    Unfortunately, their EULA is not as cool as the idea. Prohibiting the publishing of content made in this thing in anything other than iBooks??? What in the world is wrong with these people?

    January 23, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  3. Ankit

    Now I really miss Steve Jobs.

    January 23, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  4. Heman1171

    why do we need these gadgets for school ? Whats wrong with good old printed books and practical sessions. All the schools already have computers for the children.

    January 23, 2012 at 5:18 am |
  5. Prasanna

    Why cnn is batting for apple to make huge profits when u have $20 alternative with world class education available online in MIT OCW.

    1. Cost of UBIslate ipad is $20.. one can access internet through this device and access all MIT OCW and other university materials online..

    January 23, 2012 at 5:32 am |
  6. Kali Gwegwe

    Do not leave Africa out of this again.

    January 23, 2012 at 5:46 am |
  7. Godson Elias

    I agree with Kali Gwegwe, "please do not leave Africa out of it again". Will it benefit the '3rd world countries'? and how affordable can it be?

    January 23, 2012 at 6:32 am |
  8. Ben

    The Apple initiative is great. My only question is why CNN insists that it's female reporters have a high pitched, grating voice and that they try to explain the obvious and interrupt the interviewed people, instead of letting the involved people do the talking. I always mute their commentary – it gets on one's nerves.

    January 23, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  9. Ian

    Does no one remember when most American schools used only Apple computers??? I know in almost all New England public schools from grades K-12 all we used were Mac's and that was the 90's....

    January 23, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  10. Steve

    "education is deep in the company's DNA", Yes with a ceo which dropped college. Anyway, how are you going to revolutionize school with $500 tablets and all the impracticalities which come with it?? If you want children to have textbooks, why not just use a kindle???

    January 23, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  11. Cocopuf

    Look. When it comes to Apple products, it isn't cheap. The online apps for iPAd, etc., are steadily increasing in cost in more than few cases, and a lot of these apps are a joke ... Even for kids. Yes, not all of them. Now, when it comes to using publishers via Apple, I can see limited learning and progressively higher costs. How do I know? Well, I have a lot of apps, and now Apple allows you Dow OAS university lectures with a catch... In order to learn some courses, you have to buy the "workbook" from the publisher. I think that sucks from a student'spoit of view.

    January 23, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  12. Cocopuf

    You can't use a Kindle because they want it in Apple ONLY. The direction that Apple is taking in educate with buying a book from the publisher online is NOT going to be cheap enough in the long run. You'll end up learning tidbits and not enough without spending more money. Also, iTunes simply sucks as a file manager for all Apple devices that use it. How do I know? I use iTunes and it isn't a friendly manager and likes to waste you time with deleting files and reloading them often erasing the original files. Trust me, royal pain in the ...

    January 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  13. Dana

    Interactive book for children? http://www.booclips.com is the perfect match.
    My Son loves Kung Fu Panda and Garfield (My wife love the Hello Kitty Books). I think that this is where the world is headed to.

    January 23, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  14. Juan

    The hardest part in my opinion would be to keep the kids motivated to actually read the school material without getting distracted with the infinite amount of entertainment that could be accessed with an Ipad. Even though the Ipad is a revolutionary product this is something that could have been done years ago way more efficiently with a lap top or netbook that are actually cheaper, easier to type and not as distracting as an ipad.

    January 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  15. J. Doe

    I like how the media comments about how Apple revolutionizes different industries (in this case education) but never asks in what direction. Keeping on topic, Maggie comments about how the iPad supposedly increases interactivity within the individual subjects. However, can't actual teachers actually do the same thing? If the US actually gives it's teachers proper training, lessons can become more interactive as well as of a better quality. What is more interesting is that proper reading of the attached CNN article points out that Apple is not revolutionizing education (as it stated) but the textbook! The upcoming apps from Apple would sell interactive textbooks from different publishers. While Maggie has brought up the cost disadvantages, the system also has practical issues depending on its usage. If used in classrooms, this could bring up the effect of passive learning which may yield higher national grades (like Singapore) but create ineffective rigid thinkers. If used at home, won't a computer be of a more practical use? Also, there are better programs programs such as Microsoft Encarta or Britannica which can suffice not to mention the more economical Internet for research to be done. I have mentioned this before; Apple device which only supports Apple and Apple-based apps which help Apple generate revenue every time someone wants to generate an Apple app or buy something from the Apple app. The US needs to commercialize less on education and invest in it to increase it's quality and pull it out of the mess it is in now. Lastly, are any of you going to take notes all over your iPad?

    January 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  16. S. Dark

    it has already started in Turkey..

    January 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  17. sameh

    oh my god these Childrens bewitches miracles


    January 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
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    buy best louis vuitton online shop online shopping

    February 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  19. Jeerah

    You've got all the info right there! The publisher's just need to ceatre eBook versions of your textbooks and allow Apple to sell them in the iBookstore. It's as simple as that!

    March 31, 2012 at 5:52 am |
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