University of Pretoria academic publishes the first interactive digital textbook from South Africa
The first digital interactive scientific textbook published from South Africa for the Apple computer platform was released internationally on 12 December 2014 in 51 countries. The book can be seen on Youtube. The textbook is the brainchild of Professor T.S. Pillay, Head of the Department of Chemical Pathology and the Clinical Pathology programme, University of Pretoria and National Health Laboratory Service and uses the recently developed Ibooks Author platform from the Apple computer corporation. The book is designed for trainee specialists, scientists and technologists in the field of chemical pathology. Ibooks Author allows the creation of highly interactive and dynamic textbooks. “In many ways, this is really a 4‐dimensional medium”, said Professor Pillay compared to the conventional 2‐dimensional textbook. One can embed dynamic material such as videos, animated presentations, 3‐D objects and photo galleries allowing a richer two‐way interaction of the student with the material via the touch screen interface. In addition, one can also embed review questions that the students can test themselves on as they work through a book. Students can also use the touch screen interface to highlight and annotate as they would using a conventional hardcopy textbook. These features allow a richer learning environment for subjects such as medicine, biochemistry and mathematics where interactivity and self‐directed learning of procedures and processes are often required. According to Professor Pillay, one of the most powerful features of the platform is the ability to update quickly– “one can update a book, for example,on an annual or more frequent basis and the updated version will be immediately available(pushed) to users devices via the internet or the local network”. This greatly simplifies the process of updating or producing a new edition of a textbook, compared to conventional publishing of a hardcopy textbook. This really is the future of publishing especially in resource and learning challenged environments.