I'm sure most tech savvy educators have heard about Apple announcement Thursday regarding iBooks 2 and iBook Author. I received an email from my cousin, who works at an Apple Store, early on Thursday highlighting the announcement. I got the impression from his email that he was buying into the Apple hype that these products would revolutionize education.
It's still early and all the details aren't fleshed out yet. Initially, I wasn't particularly impressed. Sure, a multimedia textbook on an iPad can be more engaging than a traditional textbook. However, from my perspective, in the past 5 years, I've used my textbooks a total of maybe 10 times. That doesn't mean I don't follow a curriculum and meet standards. I just don't believe the textbook is the best way to do that. Would iPad textbooks change that for me? I believe, as Jac de Haan of Technology With Intention said in a recent blog post, "It is still a one-way delivery system." Or, as Ronnie Burt of edublogs.com puts it in his recent blog post, even with iBook textbooks, "(s)tudents are still thought of as 'content consumers' in this scenario as opposed to active participants."
I had this discussion with a Middle School math teacher at my school. He has joined me this year by flipping his class, but he uses textbook publisher provided video tutors. He still sticks strictly to the content provided by the textbook. I asked him, or rather challenged him, to see if he felt he could teach his class without a textbook. He wasn't sure that he could.
I expressed my concern to him that this announcement by Apple didn't revolutionize the way education would be delivered. It just revised how textbook teaching could/would be delivered. My co-worker made a good observation. He pointed out that, when it comes to infusing technology and a student-centered learning environment, I was ahead of the curve. He speculated that the ability to have pre-packaged content on a device like the iPad could pull more teachers into a better teaching environment. Maybe? Maybe not?
I have an iPad that I use personally and a classroom iPad the kids share. I also have laptop carts that creates almost a 1-to-1 environment. I've implemented a small BYOD program and approximately 15% of my students bring their own device. So, I certainly have the ability to use multimedia textbooks. Given Apple's history though, I do have concerns about the cross-platform compatibility of the iBooks textbooks.
As I read another Jac de Haan post, I began to think about the use of iBook Author with my Flipped Class. Currently, I used Google Apps for Education to organize my classroom content. I am very happy with the ease of the management system I've developed and the students and parents are as well. However, there is an outside possibility I could move to a 1-to-1 iPad environment next school year (those who know me personally, please don't start speculating or spreading rumors). That aside, I am intrigued by the possibility of using iBook Author to, in essence, create a textbook for my class. This "textbook" however would be populated with content that I have created for my Flipped Class along with other resourceful content that ties in. In addition, I could place in assignments, interactive elements, etc. specific to my class. I still need to explore this idea more in order to determine all the applicability of this process. But, I'm thinking it could become a Classroom Management System of it's own.
In addition, if I'm distributing my content via iPad, I could, in theory, shoot my video with the iPad, and even edit content with my iPad if I choose, making everything more streamlined and compatible. I can see a not very tech savvy teacher that is hesitant to flip his or her class finding this method appealing.
I'm still holding out judgement on the ramifications of this announcement by Apple. I'm not sure the iBooks textbooks are a huge game-changer quite yet. However, the ability to create a one-stop Classroom Management System for Flipped Classroom teachers in the form of a textbook could be a real bonus, especially if you're already working in a 1-to-1 iPad school. In the meantime though, I'm certainly taking notice and plan to begin experimenting more to see the potential of iBooks Author.
Where do you think this could go? Could this development help or hurt the Flipped Class momentum? Feel free to weigh in.