Apple has revealed ambitious plans to revolutionise the education sector by confirming it is to sell digital textbooks. The idea of technology playing a more prominent role in education has been mooted for the past few years, with former Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs expressing his desire to see technology revolutionise classroom teaching.
Until now, Apple has struggled to make the sort of impact in classrooms it has seen in the more traditional consumer market, where its iPad and iPhone devices have made big waves. But with the launch of a new version of its iBooks digital book software, the technology giant has said that it said that it will support textbooks featuring quizzes, note-taking and study cards, in addition to a range of other learning-focused features.
In the short-term, the new technology will be restricted to a small number of high-school titles from McGraw-Hill Cos, Pearson PLC and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, with textbooks priced at a maximum price of $14.99. Ultimately, Apple said that it hopes to launch digital textbooks for virtually every subject and grade level.
Contemporary textbooks aren't adequate teaching tools, according to executives at Apple, who observed that cutting-edge technology was well ahead of the education system. If the US is to stay ahead of its international rivals, Apple said that textbooks need to be portable and straightforward to update.
Although a mere six per cent of education-textbook sales will be digital in 2012, textbook distributor MBS Direct Digital said that it expects to see that number rise to more than 50 per cent over the next eight years.
Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice-President of World-Wide Marketing, explained at a media event held at New York's Guggenheim Museum that institutions are currently using 1.5 million iPads. "Education is deep in our DNA," Mr Schiller told the reporters in attendance, before explaining that education institutions already have access to more than 20,000 education apps.
Added to this, the California-based firm said that it has updated iTunes U, the service for distributing college lectures via podcast. As a result of the updates, the service will be made available to kindergarten through high school.