Will the new Apple author app revolutionize education? (Or not.)

Over Christmas I chatted with an extended family member about iPads. Her job is to work with teachers and help them transition to a new teaching model. Of course, using enhanced textbooks on the iPad.

The mission isn’t for each child to have an iPad. But one tablet per 3-4 kids. The iPad would be a station. The other rotations would include other modes of teaching – hands on, writing…etc.

I tried to hide my doubt at this concept. Computers were supposed to revolutionize teaching too. But did it happen?


Where I live, each classroom has 2-3 computers – Macs of course. From what I can see – and it might be different where you live – computers in the elementary classrooms are used for the following reasons:

  • Advanced reader quizzes
  • Educational video games (Cool Math, Study Island…etc)
  • At times, a child might work on a simple Power Point project.

I believe many teachers are willing to embrace technology and new ways of teaching but change requires a big learning curve and a lot more work. It won’t happen overnight. Teachers? What do you think?

Then Apple comes out with this new author app. It sounds incredible! Yes, I’m excited, drooling, anticipating the chance to create cool stuff.

The focus is on education. But this app gives authors the opportunity to create enhanced ebooks. Just think what nonfiction authors could do with this? Teachers? Travel writers who have video and photos?

There are some bottom line issues that are confusing. Distribution issues. We’ll see how that plays out.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Will this really revolutionize education? (Honestly, I’m way more excited for what this app means to authors!)

What do you think?

If you want to know what people are up in arms about check out the Passive Guy’s post on it. People don’t fully understand the terms. I think that once you create the file, you can only sell that enhanced ebook through iBooks. But you can use the text and sell your book with other retailers – just not the enhanced version. But I could be wrong.

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19 Responses to Will the new Apple author app revolutionize education? (Or not.)

  1. Louise January 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I’m excited about this possibility for authors, too! Especially since everything I’m looking at for indie publishing a picture book is dreadfully expensive and complicated (served me right, diving into indie publishing with something that is mostly COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS), and this looks like a much simpler option – though I haven’t looked at it enough to know how it would affect any print options.

    As for the teaching – the only thing that is really going to revolutionize education in this country is a complete revamp of the system, as well as a shift in values, to the point where we recognize learning as a good thing in and of itself, not just as a means to an end. Until then, no matter how hard teachers try (and oh, they do try – it’s not their fault they are forced to work within a broken system), and no matter how many shiny new technologies we put in the classrooms, there will not be an educational revolution. That’s my opinion, anyway!

  2. Ava Jae January 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I don’t think the transition will happen overnight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ten to fifteen years from now, kids walked to school carrying iPads (or something of the like) rather than textbooks.

    I think the iBooks announcement is pretty exciting for education and authors alike. No, things won’t change overnight and kinks still need to be worked out (as you explained about the distribution issues) but the ease in which the Author app makes creating interactive books is pretty incredible and makes for some exciting possibilities. 🙂

    • Laura January 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Ava Jae – The author app is so exciting! Even though I realize it’s a better fit for certain kinds of authors. If an author isn’t producing a cookbook or nonfiction – is it worth the time for a straight text fiction author to spend the time on an enhanced ebook? I think only time will tell.

      Louise – I tend to agree with you on education. A huge change like that would take a total revamping and reeducating – starting at the college level teaching the teachers. I think it’s great for picture books but you’ll only be able to sell it on iBooks, which right now, doesn’t bring authors a lot of sales. But it might in the future.

  3. Alex J. Cavanaugh January 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Interactive eBooks are the way of the future – that app sounds cool!

  4. Jenny January 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I think the concept is quite interesting. I do love to see my kids buried in a book, but for textbooks, when they get older, iBooks might be a great solution to those poor middle schoolers walking the mile to school with a huge load on their backs. I don’t know if it will revolutionize education, but it will help kids from breaking their backs!

    I will say that I have been impressed with the use of computers in our public elementary school. In the early grades, it is used primarily as you mention–Study Island, Raz Kids (which my first grader LOVES), education games. But starting in third grade the kids use it to write book reviews and comment on each others work both through blogs and Voice Thread. They make “posters” online using a software program I’m unfamiliar with. My son, in second grade, was allowed for his book report project, to make an animated video, which he showed in class. These kids are going to be using computers for the rest of their lives–I think it’s great that they’re using them in creative ways now. Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped on my computer, using it for just social networking and writing, while my kids are becoming creative people on it!

  5. Matthew MacNish January 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I can’t see the controversy being a major issue. I mean I see Passive Guy’s point, but I think that would be difficult if not impossible for Apple to enforce. I’m not even sure it’s legal.

  6. Sheri Larsen January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Wow, Laura. This is fascinating. Where I live, every high school and middle grade student receives a Mac to use for school purposes. It has enabled teachers to broaden their scope of teaching, yes. And as wonderful as that may sound, it’s also opened up the door to abuse – abuse of the tool and laziness.

    I don’t know if this new Apple tool has anything to do with the the app recently released that’s for phones and supposed to help parents with their kids at home. I was looking into this app to see if there was a way to get them to donate it to parents of Apraxia of Speech children. This could help these kids tremendously. But like you mentioned, there is a learning curve and people must be willing to take that curve with patience.

    The future of education will definitely be interesting.

  7. Patti January 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    My daughter’s class uses smart boards, mac lap tops, and ipads. I think it’s helped her a lot, so this is just one more thing that will improve her education. I’m excited for it.

  8. Pat Newcombe January 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    The Apple author app sounds awesome! But as you say new technology does not always translate into user friendly methods of teaching…

  9. Christina Lee January 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Still will never reach poor school districts (where I used to teach) where we had to share textbooks with other classrooms. :-(((

    But anyway, good food for thought here. I think the idea of learning to use technology is very important for our society (and to diversify for those with special needs) but will never take the place of basic, good teaching practices!

  10. Lisa Green January 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    It’s exactly those details I was wondering about. It would be great if Ibooks were the main selling point for Ebooks, but I’m not sure that’s true. Too bad you can’t use what you create in other formats. It’s still cool though!

  11. Lydia K January 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Someday I can imagine all kids having an iPad or something. Right now, I can’t see that happening yet. I’m keeping my eyes open on this news…

  12. Kristen Wixted January 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I read about this yesterday and was so interested! It was all about color text, so yes, textbooks would be the first step, but I was thinking–what about picture books? Will we be able to upload and “publish” some, and sell them for 99 cents?

    • Laura January 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      It’s been extremely interesting watching the different view points and what people have to say. It makes a little bit of sense that Apple would have restrictions. Why would the offer a free app and then allow people to sell it on the Fire? That doesn’t make sense. My impression is that I can use that text and still sell it at all the different retailers, just not the enhanced version I created on the author app.

      Imagine what we could for family scrapbooks. Combine photos, old videos, audio, personal stories – all in one place. Those we could export anywhere b/c it’s for free. Kinda cool. Or cookbooks? So much possibility.

      I’m interested in seeing what the final interpretation ends up being. Fascinating stuff!

  13. Theresa Milstein January 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Computers have enhanced teaching, though cost is a factor. I see it used best in the upper levels for research. Across the grades, SmartBoard technology has made the biggest difference. Teacher who use it well can use various forms of media in one lesson seamlessly. And students are eager to go up to write or move items on the board.

    Last year, I used the SmartBoard in so many ways–from showing CNN student news to large graphics of the Columbian exchange to showing how the lock system works on the Panama Canal to showing clips from instant movies from Netflix, like The Last Emperor.

    I borrowed the laptop carts or booked computer lab time for research projects on Africa, current events reports on China, and Renaissance biographies. The students loved driving much of their own learning for those assignments.

    All of this is light years from my old blackboard days as a student.

  14. Julie Musil January 21, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I wondered about this myself! I saw the Apple announcement on the news, and wondered about the impact. Some of my sons’ teachers are absolutely embracing technology. They’ve done book reports on Glogs, they’ve posted book reviews on a shared class site, etc. It’s fun and fresh for them.

  15. Sherrie Petersen January 21, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    At our school, each child in grades 3-6 has their own Mac. They use them in music to write songs in Garage Band, they use them in class to write reports and create brochures and interactive presentations, and we use them in my class to create the school newspaper. They also use them for games, Accelerated Reader quizzes and researching on the internet. But I’m really pleased with how well our teachers have integrated the computers into the classroom. We’ve only had them for each child for about three years.

    A guy I work with at my other job has already started creating an interactive textbook for a class he’s going to be teaching on technology. He says the iBooks app is easy to use and he likes how changes are automatically upgraded for everyone with a copy of his book. And this is coming from a guy who is kind of anti-Mac! It looked beautiful on the iPad. Seeing what he had done made the wheels start turning for how I can use this in the class I teach as well. Very cool stuff.

  16. Traci Kenworth January 21, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Remember back when it was thought computers would take over our jobs and we could all live out a Star Trek type existence? Didn’t happen. Don’t think this will happen for education. But for writers, it would be a jump-shot into the future…

  17. Leslie Rose January 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I have an interactive white board (Smartboard) in my classroom. It’s amazing. I use it to share any Internet connections to our learning, videos, and I have my Kindle on it so I can read aloud graphic novels to the class and they can see all the art. All the “touch” learning opportunities with it are priceless. Nowadays most text book series have HUGE online components, so I find computers and tech in the classrooms to be an important and constant layer.

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