Steve Jobs dreamed of making paper textbooks obsolete.
Apple has pursued that vision for years with iBooks Textbooks, which today expanded into new markets across Asia, Latin America, and Europe. They are now available in 51 countries, including Brazil, Italy, and Japan. iTunes Course Manager also entered new markets, including Russia, Thailand, and Malaysia and is now available in 70 countries.
The iBooks Textbooks service presents textbook content on the iPad. More than just digital copies, these textbooks come tricked out with interactive animation, full screen photos and videos, 3D diagrams, quizzes, and a note-tracking system.
The service now features 25,000 educational textbooks and covers 100 percent of the U.S. high school core curriculum and secondary education in the UK.
Textbooks are a $9 billion a year business, and yet traditional textbooks suck. They are heavy, expensive, non-interactive, and slow to publish. Then the iPad hit the scene and created tremendous opportunities for a new kind of textbooks — textbooks that could fit thousands upon thousands of pages of content into one slim, electronic frame, reinforce learning along the way, and encourage students to learn at their own pace.
The traditional classroom model of a teacher presenting information and students absorbing it seems to be on its way out. The educational community has made a big push for more student-centered, active, “blended” learning techniques over the past couple of years, and technology like the iPad is a big driver of this trend.
iPads (and other tablets) are powerful educational tools because they can make learning more interactive and engaging for students as well as help teachers track their students’ progress and deliver more specialized attention, which is a major challenge in large classrooms. They also make it easier for students to learn outside of the classroom through tools like glossaries, index links, and Q&A sections.
The iTunes U Course Manager also supports this type of learning by giving teachers tools to create their own courses for the iPad, including video and audio lectures, books, presentations, and a list of assignments.
Apple has a number of competitors also working to replace the textbook with their own, digital versions — Amazon, Boundless, Inkling, Coursera, and Chegg to name a few. However Apple’s brand goes a long way in the education world, and it has dominated this space both in terms of content and publisher partnerships.
iPad penetration is stronger in the U.S. than in other countries, and Apple has signed deals with school districts to equip their students with iPads. This international expansion will deepen its content and iPad presence abroad, assuming abroad is ready.