So far, Apple is not known to have entered into agreements with any textbook publishers (the claims of the McGraw-Hill CEO who was allegedly subsequently dropped from the iPad launch event notwithstanding). But the universities are using a third-party company called CourseSmart, which offers 10,000 e-textbooks and has announced an iPad app of its own.
The schools are already making plans for how the iPad can redefine the nature of the book and publishing as they know it. Abilene Christian’s campus newspaper, The Optimist, is creating an iPad app out of its website as a journalism teaching tool.
“We want the students to start thinking about, what’s the best way to present information on the iPad?” said Kenneth Pybus, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, who serves as adviser for The Optimist. “We’re challenging them to design features that would take full advantage of photos and texts and HTML5. There’s an academic component to that — forcing students to think differently about how information is distributed and presented to readers.”
I suspect a lot of other universities are going to be watching the way the programs at these ones go. Heavy textbooks are a universal annoyance, and finding a way to lighten the load while at the same time improving learning retention would be a very valuable innovation.