HANDS ON: This Is How Apple Envisions The Future Of Education

ipad textbooks cell graphic

Photo: Screenshot

Apple unveiled its new plan for textbooks on the iPad today. Now publishers have new tools to push their textbooks to Apple’s iBook store and include interactive video, graphics, and other goodies.We gave it a try.

Is it a massive reinvention of the reading experience on iPad? Not really. With all that embedded multimedia content, the textbooks feel a lot like the interactive magazines such as Wired that have been on the iPad since year one.

So from a technical standpoint, it’s nothing we haven’t seen on tablets before. The real change is the method in which textbooks will be distributed. Apple has a new self publishing app for the desktop that lets you design your own book and publish it in iBooks. Most textbooks will go for $14.99 at first.

We just tried a free sample of one of the new textbooks in the iBook store called “Life On Earth.” (It’s a biology textbook.) Keep reading to see what the experience is like.

Note: To get textbooks on your iPad, you need to make sure you download the latest version of iBooks that was released today.

Here's the new storefront for iBooks. Textbooks are promoted at the top today.

After downloading, the textbook appears in your iBooks bookshelf. Tap to open.

This textbook starts with a fancy intro video.

More from the intro video...

After the video, we get the table of contents. This is just a preview, so there are only two chapters here. Tap a chapter to get started.

The layout looks like your typical textbook. But the real change is in the left sidebar. That's where you'll find all the videos, interactive charts, figures, links, etc.

Here's a better look at the sidebar. As you can see, this textbook is packed with content. (That's probably why it's such a massive download.) Tap each one to launch. Let's take a look at a few of them...

This interactive graphic lets you swipe through different phases of a cell. The blue circlular photo in the middle changes as you swipe along.

This is a 3D model of a Nucleosome. (Whatever that is.) You can swipe and drag it around to get different views.

There are a bunch of embedded videos too. Most are short, about 30 seconds or so.

This graphic lets you touch different parts of the insect's body for more details. The three photos at the top change as you tap.

Here's a graphic that gives you a look inside a cell. When you tap one of the rectangles on the left you'll see more detail. Here, a rotating 3D model of a protein appeared.

There are also some basic graphics. This is a simple map of terrestrial biomes. Nothing fancy.

One huge benefit of an electronic textbook is the ability to search. Type in the term you're looking for and you'll get a list of results. Tap the result to go that section of the textbook.

You can also add your own notes to highlighted sections.

If you need a quick way to find what you've highlighted, just head to the notes section. This should make studying pretty easy.

The glossary is full of terms and definitions found in the textbook.

You can also search the glossary.

Need help studying? The glossary has built in flash cards. Tap those loopy arrows on the bottom right to see the answer.

Who needs a study buddy?

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