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Last Thursday, Apple shook up the school textbook market when they announced that they were going to push into academic publishing for the iPad.  As of today, there are only about 10 textbooks available, but the $15 (or less) books that are there are quite impressive.  And, they have the publishers on board who collectively account for about 90% of the North American market.  Beyond the expected video, high-resolution images you can zoom into and 3-D models you can rotate, etc, it is possible to highlight text with your finger, take notes in the margins and have the system collate all your notes and highlights into study guides or flashcards to study from.  So, what if you don’t want to be locked into using one of the available textbooks?  That’s fine, Apple has also released a free application called iBooks Author that will let you create your own – and then give it to your students or distribute it through the Apple network.  As with anything in education, there are legitimate concerns, but assuming these can all be addressed, the days of the 20kg backpack might be numbered.

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