How iBooks Author is a Game Changer Apple Didn’t Plan

Apple wants  iBooks Author to revolutionize textbooks publishing.   Let’s be disruptive and give iBook Author a different purpose.  Look at this video and read my plan.  Which goal is a more revolutionary?

iBooks Author can revolutionize education but not for textbook publishers.  iBooks Author looks so easy to use that kids could use it.  Apple got the purpose of iBooks Author back-asswards.  It’s not for creating textbooks for kids – it’s a program for kids to create textbooks.

Learn by teaching – that’s where it’s at.  Instead of requiring school kids to read textbooks, we should require school children to write their own textbooks.  And with some extra support this could be a totally new educational paradigm.

If we gave kids stock portfolios of photos, videos, illustrations, graphs and told them their assignment for the year in each subject was to create their own textbook, using their words and provided multimedia, would they learn more by doing instead of reading?  Teach them to take content from wherever as long as they rewrite it in their own words.  Teach them the same rules non-fiction writers follow to be professional, legal and ethical.   Homework is writing the textbook, not reading it.  The content is out there to find in libraries, books, magazines, on the net, or by interviews.  They just need to shape what they learn in a persuasive way, and develop their own lesson plans, activities and end of chapter questions.

Let’s say we have a class of 8th graders studying American History. Not only will they learn history, but writing, research,  grammar, punctuation, publishing, graphic design, rhetoric, lesson plans, and so on. Wouldn’t they learn more than just reading a text book on American history? Wouldn’t it be more fun?

There are problems.  We have to make sure students don’t just cut and paste from the Internet. And we have to teach them about intellectual property rights. The Internet is full of multimedia they could steal, but that’s not the message we want to teach. We should teach them the problems faced by editors and writers, like dealing with plagiarism, libel, fact checking, writing level, target audience, and more.  All they need is access to portfolios of legal stock multimedia.

Students studying literature could use Project Guttenberg to create their own anthologies and write introductions, study guides and annotations.  Wouldn’t math be more fun if you could write your own textbook that used real world examples you care about, like The Mathematics of Interplanetary Flight.  Imagine being in school and one of your assignments is to develop a textbook called Nine Decades of Popular American Music?  I always had a hard time remembering the rules of grammar – would I have done better if I had to write them into a textbook with my own favorite examples?

Try and imagine the world of 2025 where the high school graduation requirement is the authorship of 24 textbooks.  Imagine starting college having written 24 textbooks!

JWH – 1/21/12

3 thoughts on “How iBooks Author is a Game Changer Apple Didn’t Plan”

  1. Jim, that’s a brilliant idea!

    I was wondering, as I watched the video, why legitimate textbook publishers would need something like this. I would have thought they’d have professionals of their own.

    But I could see creationists creating professional looking “textbooks,” without any real biology in them (or some real biology, mixed with a whole bunch of lies). And the same way with every other crank and crackpot on the internet.

    Well, they do it already, I suppose. Besides, there’s a downside to everything. And I really like the upside, this idea you’ve proposed to have students write, not just read, textbooks. Great idea!

    1. I would think leading publishers of textbooks would use high-end tools and develop textbooks with more sophisticated layouts than Apple’s basic templates.

      I downloaded iBooks Author for my Mac at work and it’s extremely easy to use. My immediate impression was I’d like to develop a multimedia book on the Classics of Science Fiction. But I’d need to figure out how to get artwork and photographs licensed to use, and that’s daunting. I have about a dozen big picture book histories of science fiction, so it can be done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


A story a day keeps the boredom away: SF and Fantasy story reviews


Pluralism and Individuation in a World of Becoming

the sinister science

sf & critical theory join forces to destroy the present

Short Story Magic Tricks

breaking down why great fiction is great

Xeno Swarm

Multiple Estrangements in Philosophy and Science Fiction

fiction review

(mostly) short reviews of (mostly) short fiction

A Just Recompense

I'm Writing and I Can't Shut Up

Universes of the Mind

A celebration of stories that, while they may have been invented, are still true

Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Make Lists, Not War

The Meta-Lists Website

From Earth to the Stars

The Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog

SFF Reviews

Short Reviews of Short SFF

Featured Futures

classic science fiction and more

Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch

Witchcraft, Magick, Paganism & Metaphysical Matters

Pulp and old Magazines

Pulp and old Magazines

Matthew Wright

Science, writing, reason and stuff

My Colourful Life

Because Life is Colourful

The Astounding Analog Companion

The official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.

What's Nonfiction?

Where is your nonfiction section please.

A Commonplace for the Uncommon

Reading, Ruminating, Writing, & Other Neurological Disorders

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys (nicolawitters)

The Real SciBlog

Articles about riveting topics in science

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

The Subway Test

Joe Pitkin's stories, queries, and quibbles regarding the human, the inhuman, the humanesque.

SuchFriends Blog

'...and say my glory was I had such friends.' --- WB Yeats

Neither Kings nor Americans

Reading the American tradition from an anarchist perspective


Speculations on the Future: Science, Technology and Society

I can't believe it!

Problems of today, Ideas for tomorrow


Peter Webscott's travel and photography blog

The Wonderful World of Cinema

Where classic films are very much alive! It's Wonderful!

The Case for Global Film

Films from everywhere and every era

A Sky of Books and Movies

Books & movies, art and thoughts.

Emily Munro

Spinning Tales in the Big Apple


hold a mirror up to life.....are there layers you can see?

Being 2 different people.

Be yourself, but don't let them know.

Caroline Street Blog


%d bloggers like this: