iBook 2: How Does this Affect The Music Teacher?

“There is no reason today to assume that our kids have to use the same tools they did back in 1950 – Infact to do so is to prepare them for a world that has already past”

This was a quote taken from some of the marketing video streamed last week, in Apple’s latest presentation in a bid to help teachers face the challenges of education today. In the launch Apple’s senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller talked about how they can help in the area of student engagement in the classroom and he ran a short video stating some of the challenges that teachers face in the classroom. Here are some of the teacher quotes from the video shown:

“ Education is in the Dark Ages- No fundamental changes have occurred in 150 years”

“ It’s very difficult to be a teacher and to be a student when resources are not available; when class sizes are 40+ and buildings are in disrepair”

“ Students have difficulty with reading writing and arithmetic at the high school level”

“ There have been studies of classroom walk -through throughout the country and (generally) there are very low levels of student engagement and kids are just bored!”

“You can’t expect them to go from a world at home where they’ve got a laptop or a smartphone in their pocket, or a computer on their desk and come into school and have all that disappear”

“Unfortunately not all classrooms have all the technology or even textbooks they need to succeed”

“Teachers get very discouraged when their students don’t succeed and graduate knowing that their teachers have failed them or the system has failed them”

“The ability to engage a student is the key to being a good teacher”

“Using outdated materials such as textbooks make the job (of teaching) much more difficult”

“Textbooks are usually very expensive- they’re usually $50-$100 each, so they’re adopted for 4-5 years and then you’re usually stuck with them”

“Textbooks are usually heavy and if you have three or four of them in a backpack, they’re a lot of weight- so some students will quit bringing them to school”

Apple’s answer to the challenge of promoting more student engagement in the classroom is a new iPad application called iBooks 2 . I’ve put this short guide together to explain it in a “nutshell” and to look at some thoughts about it’s use – especially in the music classroom.

What is iBook 2?
As Apple’s senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller explained in Thursday’s launch, textbooks are outdated – They are often old, dogeared, expensive to buy, students don’t feel they can highlight them, they are heavy and these days the information inside often dates before the book has been released from the publishing house. Since The iPad has fast become every teenager’s number one wish list item, using an iPad to encourage reading text books in the classroom is the future of learning.

All any iPad user needs to do is download iBook 2, which is a free application to their iPad. This application enables any user to browse though textbooks of different categories and add them to their bookshelf. In the classroom, a teacher would suggest a textbook for each student to use and each student would download the book for a cost of around $15, which is a very competitive price compared to any traditional text book publisher.

Thursday’s onstage presentation of iBooks 2 outlined some exciting features which included:

  • An opening page movie- to get the reader excited and motivated for their learning ahead
  • Interactive Images- you can easily enlarge the images shown in the book and you can even interact with the images, by writing labels, playing simple games and categorising them in the right order
  • Unlike traditional textbooks there is no crease in the centre- so this makes for an easier read
  • Each student can easily highlight relevant notes in the textbook and write a comment about the notes- then this information is displayed together on a separate page for easy study later on
  • Relevant notes can be automatically made into learning flashcards
  • Navigating new unknown words is easy- simple press the word in question and you’ll go to the glossary section at the end of the book.
  • The textbook can incorporate an end of chapter revision quiz- where students are actively revising the content of the book as they progress through it

Take a look at this short YouTube Video put out by Apple which brilliantly outlines it’s use and need:

How Could it Be Used in the Music Classroom?
This seems like a great new system to encourage learning and technology with junior – upper high school students. What do you think? What would you be looking for in a Music textbook for this age group? Would your students afford an iPad each to use? Could you imagine using an interactive textbook with your classes? Let us know what you’re thinking on this “hot’ topic  as any new advancements in technology are always great reasons to network with the wider teaching community.

Other Helpful Articles:

Live Streaming of the Apple Announcement

iBooks 2: A Guide to The Free Textbook App

Wikipedia entry on iBook2

Ibooks 2 demo video


  • By Bee Reply

    I think the idea is fantastic and has huge potential. However there is a big downside for authors using iBookAuthor to write their textbooks. The EULA basically states that Apple will own the output an author produces using the software. See http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-license-agreement/4360?tag=nl.e539 for more info.

    • By janice Reply

      Hi Bee,

      I’ve read and re-read that EULA, and the way I read it is that Apple restricts the way you can sell the version of the ebook created with their software. There is nothing in there to suggest that you can’t have multiple versions of your ebook in different software that you sell on your own. It is all designed of course to make sure that Apple remains the sole vendor, and that they always get their % of the sale.

  • By Geoff B Reply

    I think this is a fantastic idea and has to be the way forward in one way or another.

    However, as I am a teacher I am indeed interested in how one would discourage students from using other apps and wasting time on their iPads in class. With students in any public school this would absolutely be an issue unless it is somehow “locked” so they could only use the iBooks app. I have supervised students of all ages in computer labs and this is always a major problem.

    • By janice Reply

      Hi Geoff,

      Absolutely – I think every teacher has this exact concern. My immediate thought when seeing those fancy videos that pop up on the demo books is ‘how annoying for the poor teachers’ to have sounds coming out of 30 iPads in the room! I think rule #1 for me would be that the mute button is on at all times! It will be interesting to see how it all moves forward.

  • By Jennifer Reply

    I would look for a textbook where students could click on the title of the piece they are playing(e.g. William Tell Overture), and instantly learn about Rossini, Italy, the opera William Tell, the time period in music history, and possibly see/hear a video of a professional group playing the excerpt the student just played.

    I would also want the student to touch the note on the staff they have trouble with, and immediately see the fingering. I would expect a tuner and metronome built in, easily accessible from any screen, including while working in the textbook.

    My students would not be able to afford an iPad (I teach in one of the poorest counties in Texas), but our district is very interested in integrating technology into the music classroom, specifically.

    I also teach a Music Appreciation class to 6th-8th grade students. Today I taught a lesson on the Brass family of instruments using our Jazz Band students as live demonstrators. I would want a textbook for this Music Appreciation class that had a link to a professional horn player teaching the basic concepts of how to play the horn and some history about it. Of course they would play an excerpt, as well.

    Educational music games are vital to keeping kids interested. This would be something else I would look for.

    • By janice Reply

      Thank you for this feedback Jennifer- these are all terrific uses for the new iPad textbook computer technology. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  • By Kirsten Reply

    I teach at a private school, and it looks like we are going forward with ipads for all the students next year.

    Right now, as I hunt around, there really is not very much that is substantive for the music classroom! It’s a little disappointing, considering how much great stuff there is for other subjects.

    I would LOVE to see an interactive music theory textbook of some kind, or something similar to the Practice Musica or Auralia programs (theory and ear training lessons with testing and quizzing). If something like that gets developed I would snap it up in an instant.

    • By janice Reply

      Totally agree Kirsten- this would be a great use of the new iPad Textbooks. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • By Melissa Reply

    My school is adding IPADS for all students next year and most teachers have already begun to implement a lot of really great technology usage in their classrooms. However, I personally am not very technologically advanced in the classroom and have been teaching music the “old fashioned way” for about 25 years. It is time for me to step it up, but I need some direction and some help. I definitely need something interactive for teaching theory, ear training, rhythm, pitch, etc…

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