Apple just announced a great addition to the iBooks app for iPads and the iPhone: notes. The original version of iBooks was somewhat crippled without this important feature. Now students around the world are able to view their books and take notes like they usually do: in the margins. The big difference now is that these notes are easy-to-read, indexed, and can be easily copied and pasted into documents or book reports. Want to see a real life example of iPad implementation? Click here.
Updated to reflect inclusion of iBooks into new iPhone Operating System (iOS 4) at 2:19pm EST 6/7/10)
eBooks Can’t Be Ignored
This latest function comes as Steve Jobs announces that eBooks are skyrocketing in popularity. Sales of eBooks comprise 22% of all book sales right now, with that number expected to continue to climb. With the new addition of notes to iBooks, the number of textbooks available on the iPad and iOS 4 will also likely increase.
We at EduDemic think it’s only a matter of time that places like Chegg start renting eBooks exclusively in a manner similar to Amazon. At Amazon, you can rent a book for a specific period of time (the length of a semester for example) and not pay full price for the book.
Another big feature announced at WWDC today is the ability to view PDFs. Most documents passed around educational circles (#edchat, Ning communities) are in .pdf format. Until now, that meant these documents were only able to viewed on standard desktops or laptops. After an update in late June, PDF viewing will be a simple and easy experience on the iPad and iPhone.
Educational Apps Galore
Printed books do one thing: allow you to read. The iPad does that and more. The iPad can run iPhone apps. That means the hundreds of educational apps (these apps have their own category in the App Store) will be able to easily run on the iPad. From math to art and beyond, there’s an app for almost any lesson. This goes without saying that these apps will be even more immersive and important using iOS 4 on iPhone.
The current (first generation) of iPads is not perfect. It doesn’t run Flash (but that’s not a huge concern for educational purposes) and it doesn’t have a camera. Wait for the second generation iPad for a camera and we guarantee it’ll be a no-brainer as to whether you should include an iPad in your upcoming fiscal year budget. For now, don’t hesitate to experiment with test classrooms as the next generation of iPads will likely be announced during the upcoming school year.
Attention Deficit Disorder
What do you think? If you were given an allotment of iPads or iPod Touches (to run iBooks without paying AT&T) for an entire class, would students use them to learn? Would it be easier or harder to keep their attention? We think this new software and hardware is simply another tool that can do a good job at reaching students who might otherwise not be thoroughly engaged. For example, the digital native students would likely be more inclined to read a book for homework if it was on their iPad. Students could bring in their iPads and show off the notes they took by sharing them using a projector screen.
Is Apple Good Or Bad For Education?
Let us know if you think all the Apple products are good or bad for education in the comments or on Twitter (@edudemic)