Sunday, October 31, 2010

I've started sampling some of the ePub eBooks available via iTunes U. One of the technically more interesting ones so far is "The Restless Universe" from The Open University. What caught my eye in this textbook was the implementation of a simple interactive Q&A which uses a hyperlink to show the answer, presumably after the learner has written down what they think the answer is, workbook style. Many would consider this to be essential for eTextbooks.

The following screen shot illustrates this feature:

I believe that this is easily implemented in the Pages application (part of Apple's iWork suite of applications c. $77 education price) and will attempt to test that in the coming days.

Here are three iTunes U sites that were ready with ePubs at launch:

Connexions - Open Textbooks
The Open University - OpenLearn Course Material
- Oxford -
Shakespeare's First Folio

What is currently supported:

For content providers:
˜ Uploading ePub files to a hosted iTunes U site
˜ Adding ePub via RSS to a feed-based iTunes U site

NOTE: The latter option is the most commonly used method in the University System of Georgia. Content is uploaded to the USG Podcasting Server which generates an RSS feed that can be used to populate a collection (aka course or channel) in iTunes U. This method enables faculty to disseminate content in other venues.

Here is an
examples page showing the various options for sharing an entire channel or a single episode (aka lecture, lesson or item).

For end-users:
˜ Downloading ePub files from iTunes U to an iTunes client on Mac and PC
˜ Syncing downloaded ePub files from iTunes to iBooks on an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad
˜ Downloading ePub files, over the air, from iTunes U to iBooks on an iPad

Coming soon:
˜ Downloading ePub files, over the air, from iTunes U to iBooks on an iPod touch or iPhone (this will come later with iOS 4.2)

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