I wrote this article about iTunes U back in February 2010 when it was really more of a place that educational institutes were using to store and distribute course material securely – like PDFs – by leveraging the iTunes infrastructure.
Then, a few weeks back Apple announced that iTunes U was going a step further in to the authoring game by releasing iBooks Author Tool and iBooks2. The discussion immediately kicked off on Twitter as to whether iTunes U had just become an LMS. I couldn’t resist checking it out so I downloaded it and wrote a book called ‘How to get started with online learning‘. You can download it from the itunes Store to your ipad for free – go on, you know you want to!
Anyway, long story short, it was a lot of fun creating the book, mucking around with their template, and making it look professional. Well, as much as my limited design skills allowed! But that’s the point I guess, anyone can now write a book and put it in the iTunes store, for a price if they like. Then the question inevitably arises, is that a good thing? Or is it something we should be concerned about? Will it get harder to sort through the quantity to find the quality? Will the written word have no value if anyone write and we don’t know the potential bias in the author’s perspective? I saw Koreen Olbrish discussing this topic the day after the Apple announcement with fellow twitter friends which prompted this thought-provoking blog post from her: New tools, same old problems: curation and media literacy.
At this stage, I don’t think what Apple have created is an LMS. Despite being able to add assessment questions in to your book, anyone who uses an LMS knows it’s all about the reporting and that part is not as granular as I know our clients like it.
As for the argument about everyone becoming an author, I can only think that this exact cry went up at the dawn of the Internet, websites and blogging. People freely spouting opinion as fact, but with the added confirmation of being officially ‘published’ might be a scary thought. But then, going way back, isn’t that what history books are in a sense? Isn’t that why you can read one account of an event and it just doesn’t match up to another person’s,even though they might have been right next to each other? Our observations are clouded by the multitude of very unique experiences that we have collected throughout our lives and that alone makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be objective. At the end of the day it’s still up to us to moderate what we think is a quality read and it’s up to us to use the complex networks of online communities that we belong to, to support those who we respect, admire, trust and believe. Not to mention enjoy reading 🙂
Interested to hear your thoughts on the iBooks Author tool and what it means to writing as a an artform to you…