Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apple and the iBook

Last week Apple released new software that would enable professors or anyone for that matter the ability to create e-books for the iPad. The application is free and follows Apple’s visionary and proprietary business model. At the same time, Apple also updated its iTunesU. iTunesU (established 2006) is a 6-year old repository for syllabi, lecture videos and audio recordings allows students access through a college-branded portal. The reaction on campuses and in the tech industry to the e-books news was mixed. Like any of the Apple products, this application is likely to evolve over time and has its critics as well as those who love all-things Apple.




Jed Macosko, associate professor of physics at Wake Forest University says: “Providing constant content updates through the Cloud is key.” “Educators will be able to create more quickly and for free, which lowers costs and improves accessibility for students. Some people might worry that content will become unreliable, but what we’ve seen with Wikipedia is that the cream of the crop typically rises to the top.”

David Parry, assistant professor of emerging media and communications at the University of Texas at Dallas, Tweeted: “this isn’t about ‘changing everything’ for education, is about reconfiguring the business models of textbooks ie who profits.”

Audrey Watters (Hack Education blog) writes: “What a lost opportunity,” “If this is a revolutionary announcement about reshaping textbooks and educational content, we must ask revolutionary for whom?”

Chris Wolverton, biology professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, writes on his blog: that he could quickly publish his notes and slides with Apple’s new software. “Having the freedom and flexibility to put together a little book to accompany a specialty course is an attractive idea to me, one that I plan to experiment with.”

Kyle D. Bowen, director of informatics at Purdue University said: “The most important outcome of [this] announcement was to bring mainstream attention to textbooks and the issue of e-textbooks.” Note – Purdue already developed its own e-text publications.

Mike Richwalsky, director of marketing services at John Carroll University projects that “Apple just made it redonkulously easy to put your alumni magazine on the iPad—and, best of all, they did it for free.”

Some of the concerns raised stem around the proprietary format that limits consumption of content to Apple-only devices as well as intellectual property. The proprietary argument (while not new) stresses that Apple locks the market using its closed system, rather than open standards is not likely to go away. As a business perspective, it is understandable that the iBooks can only be produced, sold, distributed and consumed on Apple products. From an educational perspective iBooks is limiting, controlling, and divisive – especially when one considers the entire realm of consumers and producers of knowledge who may have a variety of disabilities and the social stratification of societies. Moreover, how does the iBook product impact intellectual property, publication jobs, and the big three textbook players?

At the end of the day, it may be more about money – selling Apple products and tapping into the lucrative digital world of higher education. Will students see any savings as it relates to the ever rising costs of text books?


Macosko, J. http://news.wfu.edu/2012/01/19/wfu-researcher-reacts-to-apples-education-announcement/

Owens, T.  http://www.timmmmyboy.com/2012/01/can-i-get-that-unicorn-in-another-color/

Richwalsky, M.  http://highedwebtech.com/2012/01/20/ibooks-author-magazine/

Watters, A.  http://hackeducation.com/2012/01/19/apple-and-the-textbook-counter-revolution/

Young, J.R.  http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/campus-reactions-to-apples-entry-into-e-textbook-market/35119?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en


http://chronicle.com Section: Information Technology Volume 52, Issue 22, Page A36  http://chronicle.com/article/Apple-Releases-Free-Software/26705/?otd=Y2xpY2t0aHJ1Ojo6c293aWRnZXQ6OjpjaGFubmVsOnRlY2hub2xvZ3ksYXJ0aWNsZTphcHBsZXMtbmV3LWUtdGV4dGJvb2stcGxhdGZvcm0tZW50ZXJzLWFuLWFscmVhZHktY3Jvd2RlZC1maWVsZDo6OmNoYW5uZWw6dGVjaG5vbG9neSxhcnRpY2xlOmFwcGxlLXJlbGVhc2VzLWZyZWUtc29mdHdhcmUtZm9yLWRpc3RyaWJ1dGluZy1jbGFzcy1tYXRlcmlhbHM=

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