With Apple’s education-oriented special media event just two days a way, a number of outlets are fleshing out some details as to what Apple has in store. The short of it is that we can expect a significant announcement regarding digital textbooks, and indeed, it was noted in Steve Jobs’ biography that the textbook industry was one the Apple co-founder was deeply interested in revolutionizing.
To that end, Ars Technica claims that Apple’s announcement will center on a tool that will allow publishers to create digital textbooks with ease. Much how Apple provides software tools like FCP that enable creative professionals to create movies, Apple will announce a similar tool that will enable publishing giants like McGraw-Hill to create digital versions of textbooks.
“Such digital texts,” Ars writes, “would let students interact with information in visual ways, such as 3D models, graphs, and videos. They would also allow students to create links to additional texts, audio, and other supporting.”
Interestingly enough, sources told Ars that Jobs’ involvement with Apple’s textbook initiative was a lot deeper than people may realize.
Jobs worked on this project for several years, and our understanding is that the final outcome was slated to be announced in October 2011 in conjunction with the iPhone 4S. Those plans were postponed at the last minute, perhaps due to Jobs’ imminent death.
Also rumored to be on tap include announcements regarding iTunes U and new support for the ePUB 3 standard which lends itself to a wider swath of multimedia and interactive content – just perfect for the textbook of the future.