Wednesday, April 18, 2012

MyNotes - Apple Briefing iBookAuthor / iTunesU Course Manager

Earlier today, I had the chance to attend an Apple briefing--excellent facilitation by Jill Vermillion--on iBook Author and iTunesU Course Manager. Wow, I can understand the excitement about creating, managing and sharing content using these tools! In spite of the stunning positives (easiest content development I've seen, and I've played with Sigil, LibreOffice, and Calibre), there are flies in the ointment, mainly the following:

1) ePub output is not available officially, which is a big oversight that Apple couldn't have been aware of, not unlike Garageband's early version being unable to export to MP3 directly instead of going through iTunes. Rusty Meyners (@rmeyners) pointed this out in tweets and caused me to ask the question directly of the facilitator.

2) These tools are designed primarily for individual content development.

3) In the Texas context, it appears that Project Share and Apple's iBook Author/iTunesU Course Manager are competing for developers and audience. The Apple folks were careful to include the Texas Education Agency and Education Service Centers, as well as compliment them in their work thus far in developing/sharing content via iTunesU. Since creating courses in Project Share (e.g. OnTrack) seems to be a goal of TEA's or the state legislature, will Apple be able to shift content development from PS to iTunesU/iBookAuthor? Care to venture any bets as to who will win that contest?

4) Number 3 aside, if Apple could come up with a Windows version of their software, then this would go a long ways to alleviate the issues. The problem is, I don't honestly think Apple will develop a Windows's just not the Apple way. That means that Apple once again has created a beautiful product that only a small percentage of the world will be able to take advantage of...but the difference from previous situations is the iPad.
Aside: I am particularly grateful to Jim Baldoni (NorthEast ISD) for articulating some of these concerns as fast as they popped into my head and doing it so eloquently! I also have to give a shout out to Chryssie and Leigh-Ann (I apologize if I've mis-spelled names) from one of NorthEast ISD's high schools. They not only sat in the front row, they showed off a "Triangles" course they'd been developing using iBook Author. Kudos to them for their fast work, as well as Jim's leadership.
You know, this was my first field test of my new iPad 3rd gen and it came through with flying colors, enabling me to snap pictures of slides (I was front row and center) and take notes, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by large school district Assistant Superintendent sitting to my left with a paper notepad. I think he gave up in disgust after awhile.

Here are my rough-hewn notes...

Any typos, errors are my fault alone (Miguel Guhlin).  Note that ddoubingg of letters is occurring aas a result of Evernote not handling large images and text being enteered via bluetooth  keyboard (IMHO)).

Facilitator: Jill Vermillion, Education Content, Apple, Inc.

Learning in a Post-PC World

In two years, mobile users will surpass desktop users...probably around 2013. (Source: IDC Press Release 9/12/11).

College and high school students feel that tablets (e.g. iPads) feel these are useful to have and all of this contributes to the growth of iPad in schools. For example, there have been 1.5 million iPads purchased in US educational institutions, including 1000 one to one deployments.  Over 20K apps have been developed in the education category. 

Apple asks, why iPad? Some of the features that make it really useful include thin and light, multi-touch, retina display, ultra-fast wireless, instant on, and all-day battery life, built-in accessibility  (sensory, attention, motor control, communication, voice over, assistive touch, 3rd party apps and devices that work well with iPad,, Braille add-on,, ProloquoToGo for autism spectrum). Accessibility has resulted in awards.

Some of the education apps  include  The Amphitheatre, AArt Authority, Cell and Cell Structure. There are also apps tthat allow students to be creative, such as Sketchbook Pro, Keynote, iPhoto for iOS...

"We're seeing the iPad completely change the way that certain subjects are taught. I am no longer pushing technology at teachers. They are demanding this technology in their classrooms." (Fraser Speirs,

FFeedback from educators...1)textbooks are still an important way that education is delivered in the classroom; 2) While there is great video content, web, etc. but how do you curate it around learning standards/objectives?

iBook Textbooks:
Use iBook 2 app to create "gorgeous, full screen bookiinteractive objects, diagrams, photos, video,, fast, fluid navigation, highlighting and note-taking searching and definitions, study cards."

Demo: How do we solve the great problems of life? Looking at an interactive ibook on biology.  .. .includes assessment. Jill is showing off interactive features, such as highlighting, ability to add digital post-it notes, and the ability to see nnotes/highlights aggregated iin one view [MG: I wonder how easy it is to export these to a 3rd party utility like Evernote, Diigo, etc.  Looks like the share button is up there...if you tap on it, you can email it, print can't share them with other students, though, which would be good for a group or creating a study guide per Jill]  YYou can also create flashcards, color coded notes can be used to differentiate between what shows up as a flashcard.  This feature integrates into iTunesU.

If you turn your book sideways, you can easily switch to text view, increase size of text, and all interactives are still interactive.

Collada (?) is the format for the interactive 3D stuff; various programs export the Colada format. "COLLADA is a royalty-free XML schema that enables digital asset exchange within the interactive 3D industry."

iBooks Author
On one end of the spectrum, there is a printed textbook. That txtbook is scanned to PDF and then put on the iPad. But this isn't very interactive. On the other end of the spectrum, there are beautiful, engaging books that were built as apps or enhanced ePubs. In those situations, you needed to have a programmer, development skills or be able to develop that skill.

With iBook Author, the goal is to empower anyone to develop a textbook. We hope that you, your district, organization will create content as a team.


[MG: Wow, this is really neat authoring tool. IIn the image above, you can see how  the  book chapters  are organized with all their resources bby the author  in folders. To start creating, the iiBoook author ccomes with a template 

You can easily  embed keynote, take advaantage of widdgets, 

Q: Can you export Epub format out of iBook Author?
A: Not right now, however, there is someone from ePub development on the Board (this is not exactly what Jill said, but as close a paraphrase I can remember and inaccurate...I inferred, even though it may not have been implied, that it's a future feature).

This is part 2 of my notes on Jill Vermillion's great preso on iBooks Author. Part 1 is image heavy and was causing weird stuff with text entry, would be neat if Evernote would allow image resizing on screen!

These notes will be updated through 11:30am on 04/18/2012.

iBook Author features a "Preview" button that allows you to send a proof of the iBook to your iPad so you can see what it would actually look like. There's also a PUBLISH button.

PUBLISH - A bit of confusion about this. You can share a book you've created and are just sharing it for free with colleagues, then you can just go to FILE menu and choose EXPORT to be greeted with several options:
iBooks - Create a version of your book that can be read using iBooks on your iPad. Books can only be sold through the iBookstore. Looks like there is ePub version too.

You can publish a book via the iBookStore for free (no charge), charge a fee, and you can setup two accounts to reflect your intent to sell book or make them available for free. If you have 

Question and Answer:
1) How big is an iBook file?
These are big files, including 600-700 page books. Apple is doing its best to compress without compromising the experience (trying to keep them under 2gigs).

2) Could you download a section of the iBook?
No, but Tom Burnett (Apple) suggests you write and publish your book in Chapters. 

3) Any tools to help track copyright, especially if you pull an image in from somewhere else?
No...this is something that is needed, great feedback. Jill provided a great response about copyright, how we should model this as educators, was a standard response you're probably already familiar with.

4) Show Styles Drawer...includes lots of different styles for footnotes, endnotes, headings, copyright notice and references templates included.

5) I have content on my do I best get it ready to share as an iBook?
One of the things you might do is assemble everything into a folder. 

6) Creating interactive content?
Go to Also be sure to create accessible content.

It is the world's largest online catalog of free education content. About 1000 content providers, and is available to K-12 school districts and state depts of education. Over 700 million downloads over the past 4 years that iTunesU has been available. This looks like a success but there are some missing pieces to the puzzle.

Not just a repository of content, but a way to connect and curate content to curriculum standards. The iTunesU--launched in January 2012--app was launched. You can create full courses with video, documents, apps, books, syllabus and assignments, instructor posts and updates, and there is iBook notes integration.

Course Manager is built in...

Note the creative commons copyright functionality. 

Outline of course manager:

Materials view that makes it easy to curate a course:

ePub, web-based content, PDFs, etc. ..Add materials:

Of course, make sure you have the right to distribute content that you are adding as materials to your course.

Question: Is there a size limit for content being added from your computer?
Answer: Depends on your institution.

You can do 3 things with sharing...1) Put it on web, wiki; 2) Share locally; 3) Take URL and make it public on iTunesU.

iTunesU is being used to flip the classroom at Duke University where Jill came from. This is a great way, per Jill, to achieve flipped classroom.

Q: Can you export Epub format out of iBook Author?
A: Not right now, however, there is someone from ePub development on the Board (this is not exactly what Jill said, but as close a paraphrase I can remember and inaccurate...I inferred, even though it may not have been implied, that it's a future feature).

Q: How many content managers can you have?
R: Two kinds of roles - administrator (gatekeeper...add users, give people access to course manager, and publish content publically) and contributor role.

Get started with iTunes U via

In the future of collaboration, you can designate an owner...the authoring piece is an individual approach, while more than one person can preview. 

Q: Can two people be simultaneously working on a course?
A: That's a good question. In my experience, in logging on with the same credential as someone else, you can be working on 2 different courses but not the same course. Other options include maybe using MS Word or Pages, then paste that in. Create offline then compile it in Course Manager, just like you would in iBook Author.

Q: Any ideas for courses you may create?
A: Jill suggested TEA develop content. Jim Baldoni pointed out partnering with Project Share to share content.

What about discipline specific courses?

Q:There's no way to access these courses through a Mac?
A: You can see the courses through iTunesU in a limited view. You can see outline, course materials, but it is a limited view.

Q: Can this be accessed on any iOS device, not just iPad?
A: Yes you can. With iCloud, those courses appear along with notes and readings. Students can access all their coursework on iPodTouch at home or iPad at school.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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