updated 11:30 pm EST, Tue February 2, 2010
Study guides and test-prep content also considered
Several major textbook publishers have begun collaborating with software companies to bring educational content onto the iPad, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Companies working on schoolroom-focused projects include McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, Pearson Education, and Kaplan, among others.
Although educational textbooks have seen limited adoption on notebook computers, the companies are reportedly expecting students to find the content more attractive on devices that provide a higher level of portability.
Apple's initial marketing has focused on highlighting the iPad as a competitive alternative to current e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle. People familiar with the the Apple's thinking, however, claim the iPad design team held extensive talks regarding how the device could be used in the classroom, particularly as a new way to utilize textbooks.
Aside from the iPad's potential as an e-book reader, the device could also be used for interactive content such as study guides and test-prep material. Several of the publishers have been working with ScrollMotion, a software developer that has previously created apps for the iPhone and iPod touch. Many of the iPad-optimized textbooks include additional features such as search functions, dictionaries, and interactive quizzes.
"People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010," said Rik Kranenburg, president of McGraw-Hill's higher education unit. "Nobody knows what device will take off, or which 'killer app' will drive student adaptations. Today they aren't reading e-textbooks on their laptops. But ahead we see all kinds of new instruction materials."