Is Apple Introducing Something New, or Just Glamming Up the Same Old Ideas?

So today Apple announced some new apps that will basically make it easier and cheaper (assuming you secure a loan to buy an iPad in the first place) to create, publish, and purchase eTextbooks. Or iTextbooks? I confess I haven’t tried the tools or watched the keynote yet – just read a few reports on it.

It also seems like there is now an Apple version of an LMS app of some kind for iTunesU.

I am sure all of this looks pretty cool and works great… but is this really change or just turning the same old model education model into a sexy Hollywood version of itself?

A walled garden is still a walled garden even if it is designed by Apple. Passively reading a textbook is still passively reading a textbook even if you add in some cool swipe motions and 3-D video.

The question still remains – do we really need textbooks and LMS’s for education? Whether you like active learning, social learning, open learning, de-schooling, or any other buzzword from the fringes of education, we all realize that sitting and staring at something for hours at a time with only the occasional move/swipe of the hand is not the best way to learn something.

Sure you can add more interaction and 3-D graphics to textbooks, but we already have a tool for that in the technology world. It’s called a game. What will be the line between interactive iTextbooks and games? At some point we might just need to get over the stigma that some educators have about games and just eliminate the “textbook” category all together. Or maybe that is the path Apple has started us on.

I guess we’ll see once people dig in and start using these apps. I’m sure it will be fun… But will it be Transformers 3 or The Matrix?

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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