Check out The Wonder of Tech in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer
The future of education is tech and the future of textbooks is Inkling. Inking is the creator of university-level textbooks for the iPad. Last week, I interviewed Matt MacInnis, the CEO of Inkling about its textbooks.
According to Mr. MacInnis, Inkling takes a textbook, disassembles all of the component parts and builds it back up again for the iPad, making use of interactive features, including 3D images and videos, to enhance the reader’s experience. Inkling plans to have about 100 titles available by the end of this year and hundreds more next year as their rate of production increases.
This video from Inkling demonstrates the features of their books:
Inkling textbooks have edition, page and figure numbers that correspond to physical textbooks. So when a professor instructs you to “Open your books to page 263 and view figure 2-A,” you can follow his direction exactly.
Ultimately, Inkling would like to replace traditional textbooks which would eliminate coordination issues. “We don’t want to be constrained by the linear structure of the book, we’d rather be building things that are hierarchical and exploratory. Inkling is built to handle the future.”
Updates are free. Once you buy an Inkling book, Mr. MacInnis says, “it’s always up to date. It’s always the latest and the greatest, even if you bought it two years ago. Nobody has to worry about numbers because everyone is always in sync. I think the beauty of it is that it just magically keeps everybody in the world on the same page.”
Inkling books are generally less expensive than physical textbooks. To help further manage costs, Inkling offers the ability to purchase chapters individually, usually for $2.99 each. If a professor isn’t going to cover every chapter in the textbook, you don’t need to buy those chapters.
One downside to Inkling textbooks, as with all ebooks, is the inability to re-sell the books. Mr. MacInnis explains, “Students don’t get upset because they’re paying less for the content to begin with. People purchase the content that they need and their access to the content is perpetual but it’s not transferable.”
Inkling offers books in which professors have set up their own set of notes and highlights for the class so students can follow along. These books offer “both peer-to-peer collaboration among students and the interaction that the students get with the professor and with experts,” according to Mr. MacInnis.
“A number of our titles have the author or an authorized expert that lives in that book with the students. And they are designated by a special color so the student knows that they’re actually having a conversation with the Pulitzer Prize winning author of this history book. Or they’re having another conversation with a doctor at a separate med school about the anatomy textbook. You never would have imagined, even a year ago, having a conversation inside a textbook with an expert like that.”
If all of these amazing features of Inkling textbooks make you wish you were back in school again, check out Inkling’s version of The Professional Chef textbook for The Culinary Institute of America. Mr. MacInnis says, “It’s largely regarded as the Bible for American cuisine.”
Inkling released Pro Chef last week in the iTunes App Store for $49.99 or $2.99 a chapter and gave me a copy of the book to test.
Pro Chef is 1239 pages as a physical textbook and reviews on Amazon warn against trying to leave it open as a cookbook on the kitchen counter. No problem leaving it open on the iPad.
Pro Chef is more than a cookbook with recipes. It’s also an instruction manual that teaches cooking techniques. You learn about cuts of meat, methods of cooking and cooking terms in the book.
By using this book, it’s easy to see the value in having the Inkling book on the iPad. Keeping it on the kitchen counter isn’t an issue. Hauling the book around is easy as it resides on the iPad. Watching videos is extremely helpful in learning how to master a technique. Seeing feedback from others is also useful in understanding how best to prepare the recipes.
If you know someone with an iPad who likes to cook, Pro Chef would make a great holiday present. Buy the whole book or just a chapter or two, with a gentle hint that you want to sample the food!
The Inkling App is free in the iTunes App Store here: Inkling. You can purchase chapters or entire books from within the app. One chapter of each book is free.
Are you excited about the future of tech in education? Do Inkling books make you wish you were in college now? Let us know in the Comments section below!