With multimedia, animation, and search, iBooks is a compelling teaching tool, but be careful, iBooks may also be locking your students out of your teaching resources.
If you created an iBook today how many of your students could view it?
Unless your school is fortunate enough to have one iPad per student it’s unlikely that you will even know.
Many schools looking at BYOD for ICT provision will have a mix of operating systems and software. If the spread of BYOD hardware mirrors the UK’s mobile operating system market share, the spread of devices your students are using will look like this:
As this chart demonstrates, those using iBooks are locking out more than 70% of their students from accessing educational content.
[pullquote]…those using iBooks are locking out more than 70% of their students from accessing educational content.[/pullquote]
The chart above only shows mobile operating systems and doesn’t include desktops of which Microsoft Windows holds 91% of the UK market.
The education mobile device market, where iPad is dominant, does not accurately reflect the consumer market, and this is a dangerous situation to have.
In the consumer market we have Android with a 58% market share which is only increasing. So while in education the emphasis is put on the iPad, the experience students are having at home is very different and this greatly affects the type of educational content students are able to access.
When Should iBooks be Used?
iBooks should only be used if the following is true:
- A majority of your audience has regular access to an iPad
- You can be sure that any future audiences will have access to an iPad
It’s also important to look futher ahead. How long will this resource be used for? If I need it in three years time will I still have an iPad to access it? Make sure you’re not creating your teaching resources in a format that won’t be accessible in a few years time.
When creating digital content always ask yourself, “can my audience access this information”?
iBooks is a silo into which you put your data. Make sure you are confident that iPad is the way you will be accessing your information for the foreseeable future.
As I’m putting forward the argument against the use of iBooks in education it’s only right that I offer an alternative.
What current system do we have that allows us to freely create interlinked, searchable content and includes the ability to add multimedia and make it available across the widest number of devices possible? Hmmm.
How about HTML? Web pages.
We’ve had this system in place for the best part of twenty years. iBooks solves a problem that doesn’t exist.
It’s undoubtably true that iBooks allows teachers to create compelling educational content, but it’s at the cost of student accessibility. iBooks are simply a way for marketers to package and monetise content, and for those working in education this only restricts access to resources. iBooks are a voluntary system of DRM locking students into a single premium device.
[pullquote]iBooks are a voluntary system of DRM locking students into a single premium device.[/pullquote]
I should make clear, this isn’t a rant against using an iPad to view digital content, quite the opposite, it’s meant as a guide when creating digital learning materials. While the concept of digital books is compelling the iBooks implementation is by design exclusionary, costly, and will long-term stifle creativity.
By using iBooks you’re effectively locking away your knowledge from a growing majority of students.
When creating digital content for your students look to use open, cross platform systems and file formats such as HTML, industry standard video and document formats to make sure that as many students can access your content as possible.