Relaunching the iPad

Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 20, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Apple yesterday launched "a revamped version of its iTunes U platform that could challenge traditional learning management systems. It also unveiled new tools for creating and distributing low-cost digital textbooks that could speed the pace of e-text adoption." It also announced the idea was to enable "anyone anywhere at any time to take courses for free." See also: MacRumors, Phil Hill, Breant Schlenker, Seb Schmoller, PC Mag, , Digital Education, That's Life, Dan Wineman, Financial Post, The Wheel, Ars Technica ("It used to be about location, location, location. Now it's all about connection, connection, connection," Rankin told Ars. "It will take people a long time to realize the implications of that." ),

Not all is sweetness and light. "There's no denying that this new textbook experience will revolutionize learning and education," Saka told Ars. "But will Apple be willing to let users interact with the textbooks on multiple digital platforms and not just the iPad?" So far, according to the EULA for iBooks Author, that answer seems to be 'no.'" As Dan Wineman says, Apple "in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software's output. It's akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty." John Gruber: "This is Apple at its worst."

Related: D'Arcy Norman creates an iPad textbook. "Drop-dead simple. I don’t really care about what this means for textbook publishers, but having these tools in the hands of students, and seeing what they create – now that’s some interesting stuff. Evan loves messing around with building sites with Hype – I can’t wait to see what he does with this stuff..." Here's a hands-on look aqt authoring. And as Jeff Dunn notes, When major companies fight over education products, we all win. Last night, just hours before Apple’s announcement, Chegg announced a new way to let you buy and rent digital textbooks. It may not be as elegant as the iPad (yet), but it’s got Apple and Kno on notice."
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