McGraw Hill Education, one of Apple’s leading partners in its e-textbook initiative announced in January, thinks that the new iPad unveiled on March 7 will lead to a revolution in education materials, but perhaps not for the obvious reasons.
Sure, McGraw Hill Education vice president of new ventures Vineet Madan is impressed with the new iPad’s high-resolution retina display and its improved processing power, but he thinks that the discounted iPad 2 will allow more schools to begin considering deploying iPads for their students.
“I’ve long thought that the tipping-point price for a tablet is between $200 and $300,” Madan told TPM. “Now that the entry-level iPad 2 has dropped by $100, and it’s now $399 for a 16 gigabyte version, we’ll see much more uptake.”
McGraw Hill already has a line of five K-12 textbooks for the iPad 2 through iBooks 2 and over 50 iPad textbooks for higher education and the professional market through an app from partner firm Inkling, into which McGraw Hill Education has heavily invested.
All of McGraw Hill’s iPad textbooks come alive thanks to Inkling’s interactive features such as built-in videos, audio, flash cards and 3D models. (Rival publisher Pearson also offers four books with similar interactivity for the device.)
“The iPad 2 still a phenomenally powerful device,” Madan said. “Our content performs incredibly well on that device. At the same time, we can build better things for new iPad.”
Madan pointed to the new iPad’s 2048 x 1536 pixel display, 4G LTE high-speed network support and sustained 10-hour battery life as examples of how the new device could lead to an improved experience for both textbook creators and readers.
“Think about LTE,” Madan said, “You could be anywhere and can immediately pull up all sorts of high-res, data-rich content. You can stream it instantaneously and you don’t have pulling down gigs and gigs of content and storing it on the app locally.”
“And battery life is another huge factor that many people don’t think about, including those behind some of the Android tablets,” Madan continued, taking a dig at the iPad’s competitors running Google’s alternative operating system. ?When you’re thinking about learning, you don’t have to worry about charging device in between every class.”
As for what specific new texbooks that McGraw Hill would be pursuing for the new iPad, Madan declined to say. However, he did provide a hint for where the company sees it’s next frontier.
“Extraordinarily high resolutions really unlock the potential of ‘pinch to zoom’ functionality,” Madan explained. “You can already see this to a large extent in iBooks and on Inkling’s books, but the future will enable completely mind-blowing experiences for students. Imagine zooming in again and again on a cell structure in biology, for example, and seeing every level with the same crispness and clarity.”
McGraw Hill Education also offers a lecture recording app called Tegrity, formerly a stand-alone company that McGraw Hill Education acquired in October 2010. The app allows students to record audio and video of their college lectures and search through them later on for specific material, as well as annotate and bookmark selected points. It also offers teachers the ability to record their writing or instructional demos to the class for later playback. Madan said that the new iPad’s improved built-in “iSight” camera would improve this app as well.
“There’s never been a better time to be a student, whether that’s K through 12 or in higher education,” Madan said, “The access to learning materials, the access to content through the web, the access to resources is not something many of us could have even considered five years ago, and I say this as a father of three young children.”
Correction: This article originally misquoted Mr. Madan as saying “uptick” instead of the correct word “uptake.” This article also originally left out mention of McGraw Hill Education’s 50 plus iPad titles through the Inkling app. The article has since been corrected in copy. We regret the errors.