Apple’s iBooks Textbooks and iTunes U Course Manager are apparently now available in India, according to several reports. iBooks Textbooks are now available in 51 countries, while the iTunes U Course Manager is available in 70 countries. iBooks Textbooks are multi-touch textbooks with interactive content, including animations, 3D diagrams, photo galleries, tap-to-play videos, and have around 25,000 education titles from independent publishers and teachers, including educational content from Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Hodder Education, and cover the complete US High School curriculum and the UK’s GCSE core curriculum. More details of what it can do, here.
The iTunes U Course Manager allows teachers to create and distribute courses for their classrooms and share them publicly, on the iTunes U app. There are over 750,000 materials in the iTunes U collections, according to Apple. The iTunes U app allows students can play video or audio lectures and take notes that are synchronized with the lecture. They can read books and view presentations, and see a list of all the assignments for the course and check them off as they’re completed. And when teachers send a message or create a new assignment, students receive a push notification with the new information.
Note that Apple hasn’t specifically announced the availability of both services in India (press release), and we couldn’t find a country listing for either service on its websites. We checked, and Apple does have tutorials for iTunes U course Manager on its India website, here. iTunes Course manager guidelines are available here.
The content is a means to an end for Apple. These are ways in which Apple is trying to gain a stronghold in the education market: in the same way that iTunes’s music store helped sell iPod’s, interactive educational content helps sell iPads. Governments, schools and parents spend a lot of money on education, and each deal there helps Apple sell more devices to them. In India, of course, it’s up for debate, the number of parents that can afford iPad’s for their kids, and whether schools or even the government will mandate devices this expensive. There are several International schools in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai that mandate parents buy iPads for their children and use iBooks instead of physical textbooks. With this move, it looks like Apple is trying to cash in on this rising trend.
It’s also worth noting that Google has been distributing free Chromebooks to Indian schools, but it hasn’t mentioned if it plans to distribute Nexus 7 tablets in the future. Meanwhile, the government is still pushing ahead with the Aakash tablet project, and you can read all the details of Aakash IV, India’s cheap-and-inexpensive tablet here.