You probably have already heard about the big announcements from Apple today and how they plan on changing the world of education as we know it.
While you won’t find a bigger fan of technology in education than me, as I read through all of the different news articles and blog posts about this announcement, something just didn’t sit right.
Rant #1 – You Don’t Own Your Content
Most of the concerns I have with the announcements made today revolve around the iBooks Author app.
This fun-looking application is marketed as a way for educators to make their own engaging “textbooks” or course supplements that students can read. It is designed so that it is easy to add content, images, and videos.
As you can see in the screenshot below from iTunes, the content you create is designed to be made available on the iBookstore. You are encouraged to sell your book – but it can only be sold through the iBookstore – effectively meaning Apple would own your content.
That being said, you can also create a PDF version to give away as you see fit – though PDFs wouldn’t be as interactive and you wouldn’t be able to then import your book into any other platforms.
Note: When I originally published this post, I missed the part about creating a PDF version and ranted about how you wouldn’t be the true owner of your content as you can’t take it with you. As pointed out in the comments below, this is a good step in the right direction.
Rant #2 – You Can Do Better
There are plenty of other tools out there other than iBooks Author that will let you create content to share with students.
For example, blogs make it easy for teachers to upload images, videos, discussion starters, and other information for their students.
And with blogs, you can export your posts to other blogging platforms, create an e-book that can be read on tablets of all kinds, and much more.
Put a mobile-friendly theme on your blog and much of the benefits of having content in an iBook form can be achieved, keeping it all open and easy for every student to access from any tablet, mobile phone, or computer.
Rant #3 – Not A Game-Changer
Most disappointing of all, the announcements today by Apple do not result in any major way of changing the way we approach education. This isn’t really Apple’s fault, as nobody has yet to crack this one and do it well.
You still have “curriculum” being created in advance and given to teachers and students exactly like textbooks always have been. Now, those textbooks are just lighter, cheaper, and more fun to read (all of which are great things!).
Students are still thought of as “content consumers” in this scenario as opposed to active participants. The new iBook reader allows for easy highlighting and note-taking, which is useful, but there isn’t a way to discuss texts or collaborate with others. It is in these more interactive tasks that students construct their own knowledge and learn best – not through passively reading and playing with images.
What we still need to figure out is a way to manage the individual needs of students – a system that makes it possible to provide a truly differentiated curriculum that is accessible whenever needed. Combine this with an assessment process that continuously keeps teachers, students, and parents informed about strengths and weaknesses. This way, they can work together to make strategic choices about which learning experiences to work through next. If only all of this were easy to build!
No question we are in an exciting time in education as we learn what will work best for students. We’ve yet to understand what will be the true power of a device (an iDevice or otherwise) in the hands of every student at all times. But that day is coming.
And while this post is a bit harsh on Apple, definite props to them for taking the discussion to the next level!
What do you think?
This post was a rather quick mind-dump after absorbing all of the news and taking a look at the new toys. I would love to hear your opinions and even be proven wrong!