Apple “reinvents textbooks” with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author

School's out for ever, but now we wish it wasn’t so we could go back and do it all again – with iPads

If only Apple had made textbooks when we were at school we’d have made straight A grades and graduated with a first from Oxbridge. With the introduction of Apple iBooks 2 – a iPad-based platform for selling education materials – learning might just have become cool again.

Assuming you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that interactivity is the crux of this new appraoch to learning – interactive glossaries, indexes and appendices are all present and correct – plus there’s the ability to make interactive section tests that are fun and can be marked by your iPad instantaneously (we just hope it doesn't scrawl condescending comments in the margin as it goes).

The new digital textbooks let students tap to make notes or highlight passages in different colours, something we’d like to see drift into more general applications, particularly if we could send URLs with highlighted passages and annotations. All those notes are automatically compiled into study cards for quick pre-test cramming.

A new textbook category in the iBookstore is the library for these hi-tech tomes, and you should be able to pick up a free sample when it goes live. (Who knows? You might even learn something.) As for filling the shelves, Apple’s thought that one through as well. Its method is iBooks Author, a Mac App for authoring interactive textbooks that provides a bevy of templates and widgets, WSIWYG editing and the ability to customise with Keynote, HTML 5 or Javascript. Oh, and it’s free.

Both iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are available today, free. We're sending off for some UCAS forms.

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