So as expected, Apple announced their new textbooks for the iPad. Looking over the specs and what is possible to create with the iPad, it doesn't look like they've offered a complete set of features for their book, but buried in their authoring features is the ability to embed HTML widgets into pages. There are some things I'd like to see improved about their digital textbook, but most schools will find the fact that they can subscribe to multiple textbook publishing companies through the same system pretty attractive.
Some flaws I spotted:
I don't disagree with digital textbooks per say. For schools that can afford this option, they do have a lot of benefits. I just think we should continue to ask ourselves, how can we improve the textbook? It's been fundamentally the same for so long, and I don't see a huge benefit in spending extra money for the reading device for a textbook (aside from reduced weight in students' backpacks) if we can't also fix some of the pedagogical problems in traditional textbooks.
Update: An important observation for Canadian markets - the Apple digital textbooks are not yet licensed for use in Canada, and the software to manage distribution locally of the textbooks is not yet available here.
David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.