The future of textbooks

IT feels as if every time I write about a major innovation in the way we consume content, I am writing about something new that Apple has done.

From my previous columns you will know how often Apple changes the way we interact with content and media.

Last week Apple had some great news for every educator and student around the world.

Textbooks at a maximum price of about $15 (that is about R120). Yes, it includes many textbooks that are selling for about ten times the price.

The process will take some time, but if educators prescribe books from some of the larger international publishers, the textbooks will be quite a bit cheaper.

These textbooks are then downloaded to the iPad for consumption by the learner.

It may take a while for all textbooks to move from a printed format to an electronic format, but the change is coming. The cost reduction will justify the cost of purchasing the iPad in the first place.

After changes are made to the master copy of the textbook, students will be able to get an updated version of the textbook in just a few clicks.

I downloaded one or two of these books and I love the fact that video and audio files are embedded into the book. You are really drawn into the learning experience.

Apple also announced a very easy interactive textbook authoring tool that is available on Apple computers. This will give each content creator the ability to truly make their books or even class notes interactive and engaging.

If you own an iPad you should rush over to iTunes and take a look at some of the free books that are available.

Photo Editing can be Free

THESE days we are taking more photos. We are also editing these images in ways we never could have thought of before.

We used to take what we had when we handed our little roll of film in for processing at a photo-lab. We were stuck with what we had.

Nowadays we are enhancing and cropping images and in general each photo becomes a piece of art.

But if you are new to the editing game, it could be very expensive to buy professional photo editing or graphic design software.

To help you get started, I would like to recommend free photo editing software programmes that you can download and use today.

Please note that there are many online programmes available, but following are the ones you can use without having to connect to the Internet every time. I will give the name of the programme and the address it can be downloaded.

Picasa www.picasa.google.com; PhotosScape – www.photoscape.org/; Paint.net www.getpaint.net and for those who really want a powerful free application that can do much of what most of the expensive photo editing packages can do, Gimp www.gimp.org.

Each of these programmes have different features and different levels of difficulty. Play around with them and see which will work for you.

Remember, these programmes are free so you can share them with friends and use them to improve not only your personal photos, but also to prepare images for presentations at school, at university or even at work.

Connectivity set to improve in 2012

I CANNOT believe that this is the seventh year that I am writing the ClickKliek column.

It feels like only yesterday that I wrote the first one.

This year promises to be full of exciting advances in the technology space.

And according to some also the end of the world.

Connectivity will become more affordable in 2012 as South Africa is getting more undersea internet cables connecting our country to the rest of the world.

A while back prices dropped very quickly when a relatively small cable known as Seacom connected us to the rest of the world. Prices went down over night.

Since then other cables did go live, but due to financial reasons of large providers the prices were still kept high.

Some industry experts say that prices will not come down by more than about 10% to 20%, but I do believe that by the end of the year there will be significant price cuts.

The two main cables going active this year is the WACS and ACE submarine cables.

Important to also note is that these cables will provide the country with more international connectivity than we’ll know what to do with.

I am, however, worried that the internal infrastructure for both ADSL and 3G will not be able to handle this increased flow of data.

As the prices drop the demand will increase and this will put loads of pressure on the infrastructure of the current providers. With the increased supply and demand the infrastructure will need to be improved urgently.

Let us hope that 2012 will not only be a year that we all are able to connect with the world at an affordable rate, but also a year that the quality of infrastructure that provide the data to us also improves.