Is Apple Set to Revolutionize the Textbook Industry? CNBC

Is Apple Set to Revolutionize the Textbook Industry?

The textbook industry has been waiting for its big digital revolution but so far, it’s been slow going. Apple may be aiming to change that with an announcement that the company has planned for Thursday in New York City. It’s amazing to think that in this digital age, students still start the school year with 10 year-old textbooks with “I love Mike” doodled in the inside cover. Why has the technology been so slow to catch up and how can this finally be changed? The word is that Apple is planning to sell textbooks through its iBooks store directly from textbook publishers such as McGraw-Hill . Apple could also be aiming to integrate those book sales with course material currently offered on iTunes U, Apple’s education portal which allows schools and universities to distribute lesson plans, lab films, and audiobooks through Apple’s free software. In Steve Jobs’ recently-published biography, author Walter Isaacson writes that the textbook industry was one Jobs desperately wanted to change. He had visions of the textbook as a live, document that would include videos, live Web-based text, and other interactive elements. If Apple has achieved this, it could change not only the way textbooks are created, but consumer-aimed literature as well. Digitizing educational material is not a new concept to the publishing industry. They’ve been at it for years with very little success.
Students don’t seem to like the Kindle or other eReaders for te[tbooks because there are so many limitations where students need flexibility: annotation, note taking, highlighting, quick cross referencing, etc. There are apps that allow you to organize your educational life but they don’t integrate with current electronic coursework. And Ama]on does save bookmarks and highlights of your eBooks in the cloud but they are not easy to find, share, and interact with and they don’t integrate with other course material.
If Apple aims to sell truly interactive textbooks through iBooks, it could mean a big boost for the iBooks store, which does not sell anywhere near the volume of digital books that Amazon does through the Kindle store. This could equate to big bucks when you consider how expensive textbooks are in comparison to pop novels. Not to mention that Apple takes a 30 percent cut of every book that is sold through the iBooks store, an industry standard.
Does this mean that all students will get iPads in order to take advantage of Apple’s education plan? Probably not very realistic, although don’t rule it out forever. iPad distribution programs in public schools are being tested in every state in the country. For now, Apple could launch a new textbook and publishing initiative which allows students to access books and other supplementary course material through its free iTunes software, as well as through iPad and other iOS devices for those who have them.
There has also been talk of Apple making a self-publishing tool for interactive textbooks ² like an iMovie for books. I’m less convinced on this one. Why would Apple make an announcement that would compete with publishing companies in New York City, the heart of the publishing industry? My guess is that book publishers are on board with this one and crossing their fingers that it is the digital revolution that they have been waiting for. After all, digital textbooks could mean yearly subscription revenues. Those old “I love Mike” textbooks only make them money about once a decade.

How Great Companies Think Differently – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – HBR

How Great Companies Think Differently 11-2011 (FULL TEXT-PDF)

Corporate leaders have long subscribed to the belief that the sole purpose of business is to make money. That narrow view, deeply embedded in the American capitalist system, molds the actions of most corporations, constraining them to focus on maximizing short-term profits and returns to shareholders at the expense of worker safety and health, the environment, and society in general. In this article, HBS professor Kanter argues that a very different logic informs the practices of most high- performing and sustainable companies: An institutional logic. These companies believe that they are more than money-making machines; they are a vehicle for advancing societal goals. They deliver more than just financial returns; they also build enduring institutions. At great companies, institutional logic takes its place alongside economic logic in research, analysis, and managerial decision making. Six facets of institutional logic-a common purpose, a long-term focus, emotional engagement, partnering with the public, innovation, and self-organization-radically alter leadership and corporate behavior and form the building blocks of a more sustainable competitive advantage…

 

Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall – Bloomberg

Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall – Bloomberg.

Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks.

Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind-power plants led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal.

“The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable,” United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. “You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.”

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW – GUIDE TO MANAGING STRESS

Guide to Managing Stress HBR 6-2011 (FULL TEXT)

(Sample) Stress. We all experience some level of it most days. We know that a certain amount of stress can make us more productive. Unfortunately, most of us are more familiar with the debilitating aspects of too much stress: headaches, irritability, lack of patience with colleagues and family, loss of focus and productivity, too much junk food, weight gain or loss, nails bitten to the quick. We all know what we’re supposed to do to reduce stress: Get more sleep. Exercise regularly. Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. Set priorities. Work more efficiently. Plan ahead. And yet we’re more stressed out than ever, and our personal energy is tanking. Can we find new ways to boost our energy, and become more productive?

You’ll learn how to:

● Harness stress so that it spurs your productivity

● Renew yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and

spiritually

● Juggle it all by proposing a flexible work schedule that

will benefit you—and your company

● Manage your online time—or step away from it

● Leave a bad day at the office at the office

● Calm your frayed nerves by venting, meditating, and/or

giving yourself a time out

● Vacation without your laptop—and without guilt

● Stretch at your desk to ease the physical tension of

spending too much time at your computer

● Help your people manage stress by giving them jobs with

purpose, eradicating meaningless tasks, and injecting fun

into the workplace

● Boost productivity by providing places to nap

The U.S. Needs a National Renewable Energy Standard | Sustainable Cities Collective

The U.S. Needs a National Renewable Energy Standard | Sustainable Cities Collective.

At The Atlantic Magazine‘s Green Intelligence forum, which has become an annual event in Washington, D.C., Carol Browner, who was very recently climate change “czarina” at the White House and once head of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.); Jim Connaughton, Constellation Energy, and former head of the Council for Environmental Quality under President George W. Bush; David Hawkins, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Dave McCurdy, American Gas Association, all emphasized the need for a national renewable energy standard given no big climate change and energy legislation will be coming out of Congress in the next 18 months to 2 years. A new national standard, many said, could also help achieve many of the goals of the failed 2010 climate change and energy legislation. As Senator Amy Klobuchar noted in an earlier speech that day, Minnesota’s “aggressive” renewable energy standard (25 percent renewable energy by 2025) had led to skyrocketing growth in wind, solar, and biofuels in her state.

No Big Climate Change Legislation Coming Soon

Asked by Ed Luce, The Financial Times, how the debate in Washington could get steered back to climate change, the panelists punted a bit. Browner said “we could pass legislation, but not large legislation anytime soon.” She said there’s a set of tools available to the administration, including new rules and standards, which are now being used to ensure cars hit 54 mpg by 2015. Browner noted that 65 percent of total emissions in the U.S. can be dealt with through existing laws, regulations, and administrative tools.

For Connaughton, who is said to be Mitt Romney’s choice as the head of the E.P.A., there are already “six different types of regulatory programs” in the U.S., including the mandatory cap and trade program approved in California. Also, at the Federal level, the House and the most recent administrations, through their many attempts to pass major climate change legislation, have already laid an important “foundation.” This solid base has led to “10 billion tons in carbon reductions.” He said the foundation is now in place for moving many smaller pieces of legislation, like a national renewable energy standard, that would help with the climate.

NRDC’s David Hawkins thought the big climate change legislative failure in 2010 was due to the economy, the slogan that got associated with climate change – it’s “a jobs-killing energy tax,” and the growing belief that “this is not a problem that needs to be addressed.” He thinks these issues are just a “dam and not a permanent fixture in the U.S. political economy,” meaning all these obstacles can be overcome.

According to Dave McCurdy, American Gas Association, which has been promoting fuel efficiency, there are “more opportunities on efficiency,” including fuel economy standards. He wants smarter incentives that can push firms to work with state governments and environmental groups, and said there needs to be a stronger emphasis on state action.

What Does Solyndra’s Failure Mean?

Will the failure of Solyndra, a major U.S. solar panel producer, which received nearly half a billion in recovery funds, do permanent damage to the case for investing in clean energy in the U.S.?, asked Luce. Browner said the U.S. has been making investments in energy and technology for more than 100 years, including long-term investments in the oil industry and nuclear power. “If we want a different future, we need to use the appropriate incentives.” She added that 100 years of pro-oil tax policies “have been enough.” Incentives, in the form of a national renewable energy standard, could lead to “huge investments” in cleaner energy. Connaughton basically argued that Solyndra was an “unfortunate, sad lesson” but it doesn’t change the overall program of government investment in clean energy.

For Hawkins, the government played its role. “Governments don’t give loan guarantees to companies that have no risk. If there was less risk, the private sector would do it.” He said Solyndra, which set its business model on rising prices for solar panels, was the “victim of progress in the solar industry.” Prices came down dramatically, which is good for the solar industry and consumers, but “bad for them.” McCurdy thought it was the “dynamic of the stimulus funds,” which had to “push lots of money out the door fast.” The result: some projects “fail, spectacularly.”

What Can Happen in the Near Term?

Connaughton says Congress was already questioning the value of big investments in clean energy before Solyndra failed. He wants mandates that are “performance-based,” meaning incentives that can enable the market’s competitive forces to do their stuff.

“Waxman-Markey (the 2010 comprehensive climate change and energy legislation) got too big, there were too many add-ons.” Interestingly, he added that cap and trade was ”originally a Republican idea,” but in this instance got swamped by excessive add-ons so the legislation lost its shape. He sees “phased-in standards” organized by sector as the way to go, then a process of “national simplication” to align the sector standards into a bigger picture.

He used a range of examples to show how “market structures have had impact on energy efficiency.” Browner seemed to agree in part, but added that what’s really key is ”incentives, investments, and creating demand so the private sector can make the changes needed. “

Hawkins reminded everyone that some Republicans are set on limiting the powers of the E.P.A. to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. “We can’t dismantle these tools that exist” while hoping to make progress through standards and other approaches.

Interestingly, none of the panelists mentioned two of the most important recent stories that should figure in this conversation. The world’s population recently hit 7 billion, which means a complete “rethink of climate approaches” is needed, saysNational Geographic. According to its Newswatch site, climate change, population, and food production are all deeply linked: “Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, famous for his book The Population Bomb, said people will have trouble feeding themselves as climate change worsens. But it’s a catch-22, he said, because we need to expand agriculture, but as it’s practiced today, it is also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.”

Also, according to The Guardian, World Energy Outlook 2011, a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, was very negative on the prospects of global energy system making the necessary changes to effectively combat climate change. The report said that ”the world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be ‘lost for ever.’”

Image credit: Biomass power plant, Cadillac, Michigan / We Are Michigan