Analysts expect Apple to sell 48 million iPads this year, with new hardware and software driving the sales. iPad3 is right around the corner, and today Apple unveiled (watch here) a new initiative that will bring textbooks to the iPad/iPhone platform. Download the latest version of the iBooks app and you can now purchase textbooks (typically for about $14.99) that feature enhanced materials such as 3-D models, searchable text, photo galleries and flash cards for studying. (To see it all in action, download a section of E.O Wilson's Life on Earth textbook here.) And if you're a teacher, Apple will provide you software - iBooks Author -- that will let you make your own interactive textbooks. Of course, all of this presupposes that students (or cash-starved schools) can swing the price of an iPad ($499 at minimum) and that teachers want to oblige students to work within Apple's closed ecosystem.
Then came another piece of news. Apple has released a new iTunesU app that lets students access enhanced university courses ... for free. Once you download the app, you can select courses that combine audio/video lectures with supporting materials: books and articles (sometimes free, sometimes not), transcripts of lectures, exercises, slideshows, useful software and beyond. Some courses preloaded in the free app include:
American Revolution - Joanne Freeman, Yale
Colonial and Revolutionary America – Jack Rakove, Stanford
Core Concepts in Chemistry - Stephen L. Craig, Duke
iPad and iPhone App Development - Paul Hegarty, Stanford
These courses now appear in our collection of 400 Free Online Courses, which aggregates free courses available on iTunes, YouTube, and the web.