Will Apple Textbooks Advance Ministry-Related Education?

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Competition.  That’s the name of the game.  From sports to business, competition is what produces good results and great products.  Apple Inc. just introduced a new resource that may be of interest to many people.  A few years ago, Amazon released an e-book reader named Kindle.  Most of us have heard about the Kindle and may even own one.  Kindle allows the reader to access the Amazon bookstore from multiple devices (computer, smartphone, Kindle), purchase and then download books, articles, documents and various other reading materials to the Kindle reader or its corresponding app.

With the introduction of the Kindle, the e-reader market has flourished.  Many other e-readers have flooded into the market.  Each one has their own unique characteristics as well as many of the characteristics that seem to be the common denominator among them all, like highlighting text, note-taking and saving the notes to an accessible file.  Each of these provide a value for the consumer that increases the e-reader’s value.

Enter the Apple iBook and the new iBook Author apps.  The graphical interface is appealing and useful, easy to use and understand.  The user has the ability to shop for new books by author, popularity, subject, and just about any other kind of search.  The cost of the books are identical with Amazon.

Now, here is the value-added.  As is typical with Apple products, graphics and interactivity are standard operating procedures.  The books, if they have been created by the Apple iBooks Author, can be interactive with streaming video, picture resizing, quizzing, 3D objects inserted, and multimedia presentations.  As a textbook, think of what the author could teach the readers.  No longer does the student or reader have to imagine the depth of field on a molecule, now they can rotate it, moving it around the screen.

Okay, maybe you aren’t that interested in molecules.  What good are all of these additions?  How about this: perhaps you are reading a book about John Wesley and the author has taken footage of the parsonage, or at least the church, in Epworth.  So, you’re reading along and you start to imagine what that must have been like.  Located next to the text that you are reading is a lithograph of the parsonage at Epworth.  You say, “That’s no different than a regular book.”  However, the picture might have a little triangle in the middle of it that would be a “play” button to see a video about the fire and perhaps some modern footage of the current Epworth.  Think of the educational value of seeing and hearing about life in that day!  Perhaps you are studying a modern theologian or Bible translator and when you get to a tricky part of their writings, there, on the side of the screen, is an option to hear directly from the writer what she/he was meaning in that passage.

Apple has now introduced textbooks with their new release of the iBooks app (iBooks 2).  The number of available textbooks are limited; only a handful at this point.  However, with the release of their iBooks authoring software, this list will expand greatly.  It will not be long before the options for purchase or free distribution of personalized and personally written textbooks become viable and widespread.  As is common with nearly everything Apple does, this software appears easy and intuitive to use and will make publishing books something anyone can do.  Intellectual property and copyright is a different discussion but will need to be addressed at some point.  For now, though, think about the options and then go, be creative and enjoy your own writing as well as that of others.

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Dale Hale was an elder in the Wesleyan Holiness Association of Churches. He pastored nearly three years in Ponca City, OK., then spent the next seven plus years ministering in Council Bluffs, IA. He current serves as Director of Distributed Learning at Asbury Theological Seminary.

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