If you wish to create a multi-touch iOS app for the iPhone or iPad, then you will need to know how to use xCode (Apple development software) and the programming language Objective-C. While this is a bold endeavor, it is a massive time and learning commitment that most teachers can’t make.
The average teacher with a creative idea for an app that supports learning may never see it come to fruition due to lack of know-how or lack of resources to invest in its development. Enter iBooks Author.
iBooks Author is Apple’s standard for e-publishing. It is free in the Mac app store and is everything but ‘standard’ when it comes to delivering a polished interactive iBook. The WYSIWYG interface makes it easy to drag and drop text, images, media, and interactive elements on to it’s pages and export a multi-touch book with a push of a button.
While digital books may not be the app envisioned by the teacher, they offer an ‘app-like’ feel of interaction and hold great potential for creating a dynamic learning experience that fosters multiple styles of learning.
Last year I wrote an article about teachers beginning to author their own multi-touch ‘textbooks’ with iBooks Author. Last summer saw over 200 educators participate in the iBooks Author Hackathon where they learned to create multi-touch books for education. Projects ranging from audio-enhanced books on Mandarin to video-enhanced books on Algebra 1 were collaborated on and developed.
In some cases teachers created small interactive supplements for their course and in other cases districts sent and paid teachers to create full textbooks replacements for their curriculum.
While this may raise some concerns of intellectual property and content integrity, the simple fact remains, iBooks Author is paving the way for educators to ‘program’ an interactive app-like learning experience. The learning curve of iBooks Author is no where near that of learning xCode and Objective-C. In the end, a teacher with average computer skills and access to content can create a polished multi-touch iBook for their students.
This month marks the two-year anniversary of iBooks Author. It is high time that 1:1 iPad and MacBook districts start leveraging the power of open educational resources and iBooks Author to create their own multi-touch curriculum.
My hope is that in years to come, the amount choices for educational content in the iBookstore will be just as great as the amount of educational app choices in the app store.