Education Opinion

Apple and the iPad’s Potential Game Changer for Education

By Patrick Ledesma — January 19, 2012 3 min read
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As you may have heard today, Apple announced their E-Textbook Initiative to enter and revolutionize the textbook market, specifically centering these initiatives to highlight the potential of the iPad in education.

iBooks Author allows anyone to create a textbook for the iPad. One can create a textbook on the iPad with multimedia and interactive features such as video, interactive images, Keynote presentations, and 3D images. There are also “review” tools that allow the author to create multiple choice and drag and drop questions.

iBooks 2 is their updated eReader that takes advantage of many of the iPad’s interactive and multimedia features in textbooks. Books created in iBooks Author can be read in this app.

iTunes U is now a separate app for the iPad that contains thousands of free courses. More importantly, any educator can now create courses to teach anyone who is interested.

As with many Apple press events, the tools they announce are usually available the same day. All of these programs are free. Naturally, after leaving school I went home and downloaded these free programs.


I’m using iBooks Author to create a textbook on the iPad. While I create the textbook on my Mac, I can preview immediately what I’m creating on my iPad.

In less than five minutes I’ve created a textbook with a few pages of text, pictures, video, and review questions. (OK, it’s a children’s book about my adopted dog- not very compelling educational content, but I’m more focused on the technical aspects of designing and manipulating objects and media in the pages of the book. If I were to try this using my other, non-Apple, programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere Elements, the technical tasks would take much longer.)

iBooks Author is very easy to use. There are ready-made templates to easily jump into the program. For those who enjoy creating their own designs, manipulating text boxes, shapes, and formatting image sizes can be done simply by “clicking and dragging” with the mouse.

My initial thoughts? This is a potential game changer in education.

Why? Although tools to self-publish and distribute have been around for a few years, they were not very user friendly or accessible to the casual user. Many of these authoring programs were very expensive and lacked a “popular” distribution system. More importantly, potential self-publishers lacked the iPad- a portable and powerful computing device to maximize the potential to easily access a variety of supporting media and other resources.

iBooks Author, iBooks 2, and iTunes U change the ecosystem for which any educator can freely create and publish content for learning.

For teachers, every teacher can create powerful learning resources for anyone with an iPad. Any teacher now has the power to spread their expertise. Teachers are no longer limited to walls of their classroom.

These programs empower teachers.

For learners, learning from anyone, anywhere, has been made very easy. Learners are no longer limited to educators physically around them.

These apps empower self-directed, personal learning. And learning is the purpose of teaching.

And that’s why these tools are a potential gamechanger for education.

Ease of Acccess.... for Some

Apple did not invent self-publishing, but as with many of their products, they innovated in the way everyday users can easily access and use these tools to improve their lives.

Of course, there are concerns. Participation in this ecosystem requires the use of Apple products. There is that whole thing about digital inequity. This will accelerate the learning for schools and students who have the resources. For those who do not, they will miss these opportunities until other companies provide accessible solutions.

But, the bar has been raised. Competitors will have to maximize accessibility to those in and out of the Apple world.

Will competition increase accessibility of self publishing and on-demand education for all?

And, while I enjoy my iPad for personal use, I still think there are inherent limitations for tablets for higher-level research and writing.

Questions for Later

But, I’m not thinking about any of these concerns now. I just used iMovie to create a video for my textbook and I just dragged the video onto the page and am adjusting the size. I’m about to preview it on my iPad. I don’t think I’ll upload this textbook to iBookstore for public download, but I could email it to anyone I want. I’m now an author, publisher, and distributor.

Not bad for a few minutes work on the first attempt..... When did these apps come out? Oh yeah...This afternoon.........

The opinions expressed in Leading From the Classroom are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.