Yesterday Apple Computer announced the iBooks Author software and a program that invites content creators to create books that can be viewed in Apple’s iBook 2 software app on iPads everywhere. If you want to use this new tool you have to have OSX Lion installed on your Macintosh computer. Luckily for me I bought Lion and Lion Server in August of last year. I was eager to try out the new software and downloaded it from the App Store on my MacBook Pro. The software is easy to use and books can easily be created and published to Apple’s iBook Store or shared locally with colleagues and classmates in your own school. There are even templates in the software that make content creation very easy. I created a demonstration book last night after some reading and shared it with two colleagues who loaded it onto their iPads from link I sent them.
I’ve been a proponent of open source and open educational resources for a long time and this product is neither open source nor truly an open educational resource, but it is innovative and will push the envelope. Traditional publishing companies will be forced to move in this direction or face a shrinking market. Educators in K-12 and higher education will be able to author their own content and share it with their students easily and affordably as long as those students have iPads and iPods.
I have recently been working with 7th grade students to publish their own e-book using Lulu.com and the ePub format. That has been a great learning experience and it revolutionizes opportunities for students and others to publish their content without all the hassles of traditional publishing. A middle school student equipped with a MacBook and iBooks Author could easily create content that could be sold in Apple’s iBook Store and that student could easily become an overnight sensation. It’s not unbelievable at all. I have been encouraging my students to entertain these possibilities. Thank you Apple for providing yet another tool that revolutionizes education.