The Apple Education event has come and gone, leaving us all with something to think about; is this the turning point, will our children’s education look vastly different to ours?

In Apple’s vision, the iPad is central and unshakable as the defining force in the future of education – it’s confident posturing that may have a dramatic effect on the way learning looks in only a couple of years. There’s a lot to be impressed by, and excited about, from yesterday’s announcement, but there are also some interesting caveats…

Read on to venture into what the future of education, and e-publishing, may look like with Apple at the helm!


For a good overview of Apple’s announcements, check out James Cull’s news post and have a look at iBooks Author and iTunes U in the App Store.

One of the best things to come out of the announcement is the launch of iBooks Author for the Mac; Apple have taken impressive strides towards making the creation of iBooks textbooks as easy and intuitive as possible. The decision to make the app freely available also grants it universal potential, individual teachers could find this to be fantastic way to engage students!

Apple’s vision for education is certainly inspiring, albeit in a way that’s also profoundly profitable for Apple. The checklist that highlights the utility of the iPad over conventional textbooks is nothing if not convincing.

Why would I lug around four heavy textbooks rather than the iPad? Why would I want to make flash cards when iBooks can make them for me? I can’t even pinch-to-zoom on this picture in my biology book, let alone watch videos of ants carrying things!

The approach towards pricing is also rather refreshing, they haven’t shied away from making a statement and aggravating people in the textbook publishing industry – although they have made efforts to work with them, to some extent…

Setting a maximum price of $15 for a book, in an industry that rather likes to charge $60+, is going to cause a stir further down the line – as margins get thinner, and Apple takes a healthy cut. For schools and learners however, the combination of a pricing limit, and the easy availability and use of iBooks Author, will hopefully create a true competitive market for iPad textbooks – where the very best textbooks win out!

The Biology textbook that Apple demoed, Life on Earth, could be the beginning of a revolution in learning resources!

Buy Shares

There’s a reason Apple is so successful, and it’s because the company is not simply innovative, but shrewd. Apple is a great business, and has decided to further expand into the sphere of education – a place they’ve always been welcomed with open arms.

Being in a unique position of power and influence, Apple has decided to use that position for furthering education (good), and they have decided to do this in a way that is extremely profitable for Apple (capitalism). They have seen to it that their free iBooks Author tool is limited in terms of its output, its EULA making it clear that to sell your work produced in iBooks Author you must go through iBooks 2. This is a trade-off that can be seen as a just or unjust act.

You can make your work freely available outside of the iBooks ecosystem, but if you’re making a profit, Apple wants its cut…

The Future

I’m a huge fan of the iPad as a device, and it goes without saying that Apple is too. Their vision for education is for an iPad in the hands of every student!

The vision is for a vast number of easily accessible textbooks on each iPad, an interactive learning experience with search and extensive features, intuitive highlighting and note-taking, easily available review notes and flash cards, and scope for teachers to create immersive resources. If Apple’s venture further into education and textbooks is a success, it will, without a doubt, have a dramatic influence on what learning looks like – marked by a significant impact on student engagement.

iEducation could be a near reality. Over the next two years the price of the iPad 2 will fall into a more easily acceptable range and the education initiatives instigated yesterday will have begun to settle – we could be on the precipice of an historic change in education.

As far as learning and engagement goes, I think this could be a powerful revolution in education, but it’s a little scary in terms of the control, and power, that Apple is heading for – what do you think?