Ahead of tomorrow’s announcement from Apple, other companies are throwing their hats in the DIY textbook ring. These companies are hoping to get you, the teacher, writing your own textbook or at least contributing up-to-the-minute facts so no textbook is ever out of date again.
I remember in middle school (the late 1980s) when we used history textbooks from the mid-1970s. It’s hard to even imagine all the historical information that was left out of these books due to being about a decade out of date. All that’s about to change though.
AcademicPub’s White Label Platform
AcademicPub has just announced a new way for any academic publishers to create their own textbook. Caroline Vanderlip, CEO of AcademicPub parent, SharedBook Inc, shared the news that they were now signing up organizations (and school systems, I assume) to join their white-label publishing platform. Basically, they’ll create textbooks (digital and / or print) written by you in just a few minutes.
Caroline Vanderlip, CEO of AcademicPub parent, SharedBook Inc, elaborated on the impetus for creating such a platform:
“Custom publishing in higher education has until now been dominated by the handful of large companies who can afford internal software development and who can outlast their own very slow time to market,” said Vanderlip. “Our white-label solution is a game changer. Within a few weeks, we can cost effectively make any publisher’s content available through a custom platform. This capability turns old business models on their head and saves real money, which ultimately inures to the benefit of both the publishers and the students they are serving.”
Apple’s DIY Textbooks
Second, of course, is Apple. While the rumors are swirling ahead of tomorrow’s announcement, it is becoming clear that Apple is innovating in the textbook space. They’ll likely be unveiling what is essentially a DIY Textbook tool that’s going to have a lot of teachers and academic authors quite excited. Here’s what we know about the announcement so far:
Apple is slated to announce the fruits of its labor on improving the use of technology in education at its special media event on Thursday, January 19. While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books—the “GarageBand for e-books,” so to speak—and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users.
So far, Apple has largely embraced the ePub 2 standard for its iBooks platform, though it has added a number of HTML5-based extensions to enable the inclusion of video and audio for some limited interaction. The recently-updated ePub 3 standard obviates the need for these proprietary extensions, which in some cases make iBook-formatted e-books incompatible with other e-reader platforms. Apple is expected to announce support for the ePub 3 standard for iBooks going forward.
The following is via a comment left on Edudemic’s article on the upcoming Apple announcement.
I have been using the book module in Moodle to create a “textbook” for each unit of my physics course. It is easy to use, can link to documents or copy and paste the content of document to the page, embed live webpages and videos. It makes for a very clean look to the Moodle course’s front page and makes it very easy for students to follow the sequence of materials they are to use.
If you are using Moodle as your LMS I would highly recommend investing the time to explore this feature. A good way to start is to use it as a daily plan book for students to use in preparing for class with information about what topics will be covered, what reading needs to be done before class, due dates for assignments, and when tests will be available. Since it is straight forward typing there is not much of a learning curve and gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the format. I do not suggest trying to make one book for entire course as it becomes rather unwieldy