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IBooks 2 IBooks Author and Digital Textbooks

by Paul Nisbet

on Fri Jan 20, 2012

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Yesterday Apple launched iBooks 2, a new version of the iBooks app for iThingys; iBooks Author, a program for the Mac which is for writing and designing iBooks, and a range of interactive textbooks. The video about the interactive textbooks video a well worth a look - very promotional but also inspiring, and particularly relevant for those of us involved in supporting students with print disabilities.

Coincidentally, yesterday we ran a course for the first time on eBooks, Kindles and iPads. Preparing for it was an educational experience for Stuart, Sandra, Craig and I, and we learned a lot about the features and also limitations of Kindles, iPads and commercial eBooks.

A few observations, just from this one course:

 

  • Over half the teachers on the course owned a Kindle.
  • A teacher from a Primary unit for pupils with visual impairment has 6 Kindles and she says she's almost stopped using paper large print completely - she emails the materials to the Kindles and the pupils use large font sizes on the devices instead. It saves a lot of paper, printing and therefore money, and the pupils prefer the Kindles to most (not all) of the paper large print books (books with large colour diagrams might not be that good on the Kindle screen). It's also a lot quicker - printing out 800 pages of 36 pt text takes a long time, whereas emailing the file to the Kindles takes seconds. 
  • Another teacher on the course has a son who is dyslexic. He used to need coloured overlays to read books and was never a great reader, but he can see the Kindle screen display: she says he now spends hours reading books on the Kindle whereas before he never read for pleasure.   
  • Participants generally felt that the Kindle, iPad, iPod etc have a considerable 'cool' factor, which is of course a big issue. And because they are mainstream devices, you don't look that different if you use one to read books.
  • The eBook formats and readers are definitely becoming more accessible - bigger range of fonts, options to change colours and font sizes, better access with text-to-speech software.
  • Some public libraries (Edinburgh, Dundee and South Ayrshire, at least) are now offering eBooks on loan. You can borrow a book and read it on your computer, iPod, iPad, Android device etc.
  • The most exciting thing, for me, is the huge increase in the availability of books and materials - as well as Kindle, we have iBooks, WH Smith, Google Book store. Although the commercial eBook formats and readers may not give us everything we want in terms of accessibility (yet), they are getting there, and we are already seeing how the technology can give print disabled pupils access to learning materials in a way that is quicker, cheaper, easier and more independent than what we had before.
PS If you've not seen this fine example of a new page-turning technology, take a look - it's fun.
 

 

 

Tags: books for all, iPad, iBooks

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