26 Oct 2012

Another innovation milestone: The Open University launches iBooks textbooks for iPad

The Open University has launched a collection of new iBooks textbooks for iPad, available through the iBookstore. As Apple releases the new category of educational product outside the US, The Open University adds iBooks textbooks to its range of innovative media. iBooks textbooks give the OU the opportunity to bring strong learning interactions into the electronic book format, with serious questions and a high level of student interaction ‘in text’.

Peter Scott, Director of KMi, said, "Because The Open University designs pedagogy to fit the student’s needs of any channel, the innovative iBooks textbooks for iPad offer an exciting new channel. The OU aims to be there, ahead of the pack."

These new format text resources, created with iBooks Author are also now embedded with the OU's highly successful free courses in iTunes U. With over 58 Million international downloads of its materials since the channel launch, and 2 Million iTunes U course subscriptions, the iBooks textbooks compliments its free iTunes U courses.

The iTunes U ‘course’ narratives provide an extra pedagogical context for these texts, with additional resources (not always the OU's), extra tests, and ideas of how the texts could be used in different ways in different learning contexts.

For example, the OU's popular iTunes U ‘Volcanoes’ course now refers to the new iBooks textbook ‘Changing face of the Earth’. This uses the graphical plotting of complex data and considering what the plot data means right inside the book itself, with video and questioning resources to help learners.

The Open University is already ‘open at scale’ in electronic books with over 450 free “ePub” book resources available via The Open University on iTunes U. The release of new format iBooks textbook resources can now enrich that mix, and allow the OU to further innovate with a rich feature set and innovative learning interactivity.

The Open University's Changing face of the Earth textbook is now available on the iBookstore on iPad or at

Editors Notes:

The Open University’s iBooks textbooks are available on the iBookstore on iPad or at

Apple, iBooks and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store and iBookstore are service marks of Apple Inc.

About The Open University

1.The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has more than 263,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.

2.The OU came top for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey this year, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2011/12 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

3.In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

4.Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 23 million visits. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

5.Innovation at the UK Open University is lead by research excellence. For example, KMi - The Knowledge Media Institute is an interdisciplinary innovations research centre founded at The Open University in 1995. It is widely acknowledged to be at the leading edge of research and development, particularly in semantic web technologies, multimedia and information systems, knowledge modelling and management, new media for learning and sense making. KMi is part of the OU’s Centre for Research in Computing, ranked as one of the top 20 research centres in the UK RAE 2008. The style, impact and content of KMi can be seen at

6.Download statistics are available here:

7.The Open University publisher page is available here:

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