Are Apple’s iTunes U and Coursera the future of higher education?
Both the Atlantic and NY Times ran stories this week focusing on Coursera, an initiative involving several high-profile universities that are putting a range of classes online for anyone who wants to take them. The initiative is part of trend in higher education to make learning available to anyone who has the personal or professional interest in taking a college or university class regardless of financial or geographical challenges.
While Coursera is getting a lot of media attention and is racking up hundreds of thousands of students around the globe, the idea of free college learning is hardly new. Apple introduced the concept of watching or listening to college lectures when it first rolled out iTunes U in 2007. More recently, Apple revamped iTunes U to offer a much more immersive experience that includes assigned readings, activities and projects, and even note-taking in addition to recorded lectures.
Apple is offering free webcasts on using iPads, iBooks Author, and iTunes in education
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.
Apple releases its first update to its Apple Configurator iOS management app
Apple has released the first update for its free iOS Apple Configurator tool. Configurator, which we’ve covered in-depth since its release last month, allows organizations to mass configure and deploy iPads. The software works best as a stand-alone management solution for iOS devices that are shared among multiple users but it can also be part of a wider mobile management strategy.
The update includes a handful of bug fixes as well as a couple or major changes to the ways that Configurator works with app and ebook purchases.
Apple's e-textbooks and iPad in education initiative leaves colleges largely out of the picture - for good reasons
Apple’s e-textbook initiative, which the company launched in January along with iBooks Author and a revamped iTunes U service is aimed at K-12 schools rather than higher education. Higher education has a different set of needs when it comes to textbooks, study, and reference materials. There are also big differences in device/platform selection between K-12 and the college market.
In fact, these differences are probably a big part of why Apple decided to focus the majority of its e-textbook (and, by extension its iPad in education) effort on the K-12 market. It’s a market that yields Apple more growth opportunities now and down the road.
Following the release of iTunes U for iOS last week, Apple has introduced a new support section to its website that is aimed at students and teachers who are interested in adopting the new app. The support notes cover things like creating new iTunes U courses, creating course podcasts, and marketing your institution’s content.
If you missed this morning’s Education Event at the Guggenheim in New York City and our live blog coverage wasn’t good enough for you, Apple has posted up the full footage of the event over on their site. You can stream it here or download through iTunes here.
It was a fantastic event, but man, do I wish Steve could have been there.
Today’s Education Event at the Guggenheim in New York City was by all reports supposed to be “demure,” but that didn’t stop Apple from making a big splash. In fact, today’s event may have marked the most concerted attempt by Apple to revolutionize the classroom since the original Apple IIe.
Among today’s announcements? A new version of iBooks that makes textbooks on an iPad fully interactive, along with free authoring tools so easy-to-use and revolutionary that literally any author can create a beautifully formatted interactive e-book. Coupled with iTunes U — perhaps the most comprehensive classroom learning software ever — and a pledge to keep the price of all textbooks at $14.99, Apple’s goals are clear: they want to get an iPad in the hands of every student in the country.
There’s only one problem, right now: the lack of a budget iPad. It’s a problem Apple can (and should) fix.
For a “small, demure event,” Apple announced a shocking amount of new stuff at today’s Education Event: a new version of iBooks with e-textbook support, iTunes U’s new virtual classroom app, iBook Author (which should revolutionize home publishing) and even several incredible, interactive textbooks. We’re wondering, though, of all this stuff, which of today’s announcements do you find most revolutionary, most exciting?
Tick off your answer in the poll above, then join us in the comments, where we’ll be discussing what Apple’s announcements mean for the future of iOS and the e-book industry.