SOURCE: Connect School of Languages

Connect School of Languages is an innovative English as a Second Language School.

January 07, 2015 08:30 ET

Connect School of Languages Re-Invents the Textbook

Canadian Writers Recognized for Bringing Steve Jobs' Vision to Life

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - January 07, 2015) - Steve Jobs had a vision of an interactive, updatable, multi-media textbook when he launched Apple's iBooks back in 2012. As Apple touts, "Today's students have grown up immersed in technology. They need a textbook made for the way they learn." No one could have guessed that two Canadian authors would make that vision a reality. And now those two writers are going to the Big Apple to take on big-time publishers such as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Sesame Street as Finalists for a 2015 Digital Book Award.

James Rice and Jamie Matechuk have been working seemingly non-stop for the past two years to create the Study It textbook series. Their Toronto language school, Connect School of Languages, has been an incubator of ideas with the iPad. 

"We feel incredibly honoured to be recognized internationally for the Study It textbook series. The ability to use technology to engage and motivate students while opening the door for greater collaboration with teachers is incredibly exciting for us," said Rice. "We are entering a new frontier of publishing that is going to be challenging yet rewarding." 

Jobs' vision was to push into the education market and think differently. Textbooks are incredibly expensive and costly to print and re-print. Schools and school boards are spending millions of dollars on paper textbooks that can't be updated without great cost. Apple's idea of having an updatable textbook that could be changed and modified rocked the publishing world in 2012. 

"We knew we were on the right path when we invited a rep from Apple Education to see our school and give us some feedback," said Matechuk. "He was overwhelmed. He told us that we were light years ahead of what was happening out there."

Despite the difficulties of both creating and implementing the books, Rice gets great motivation from the students themselves. "They are the ones who tell us to keep going. Even when we make mistakes or we face some challenges, the students are forgiving because they understand what we are trying to do."

The Study It textbooks a customized set of interactive English Language multi-touch books. Our books are available for download on iTunes. Connect has published over 50 different digital textbooks available for students and teachers. There are eight levels of grammar, eight levels of conversation, a listening series and a Business English series. 

The digital textbooks are a fraction of the cost of a paper textbook. "Paper textbooks range in price from $30 to $50 per book and they don't include video and audio files. Schools have to pay extra for these," says Rice. "Our books cost between $9.99 and $16.99 and include audio and video files plus updates are free."

Another challenge for the school was bringing teachers up to speed. "We went looking for teachers who had an open mind to teaching with something new," says Matechuk. "Making them a part both the creative and implementation process was critical to our success. We encouraged feedback and asked for their help because this has never been done before."

Rice and Matechuk will be attending the Gala Awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in New York on January 14, 2015. 

About the Digital Book Awards

The Digital Book Awards recognizes innovation, creativity and excellence in all aspects of digital book publishing. Each year, award winners and finalists in over a dozen categories demonstrate fresh thinking, inspired design, and bold technology integration, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in this constantly evolving publishing arena.

Founded in 2010, the program encompasses all forms of digital publishing that are available to consumers as ebooks, enhanced ebooks and apps, to showcase and reward the work of authors, developers and publishers.

Each book is judged based on a 13 point quality assurance test. The judging panel includes leading digital publishing design and production experts. Here is a list of the 2015 judges: 

Past winners and nominees of the Digital Book Awards have included: "The Making of Star Wars" by Ballentine, "Decoded" by Jay Z, "Breaking Bad" by Sony Pictures, "Cracking the GRE" by Princeton Review, "The Complete IELTS Student's Book" by Cambridge Press and "Disney Animated" by Disney.  

Some of the keynote speakers at the Conference will include authors Ken Auletta and Walter Isaacson; industry leaders HarperCollins CEO and President Brian Murray, Forbes Media CEO and President Mike Perlis; and digital innovators Hillary Mason and Seth Godin. 

For more information about Connect's innovative ESL textbook series please visit:

For more information about Toronto's Connect School of Languages and how they are using the iPad in the classroom with the Study It series please visit:

If you would like a FREE copy to review, please contact us at

Follow us on Twitter to find out if we win the 2015 Digital Book Award: @studyit_books 

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Contact Information

  • Media Contact

    James Rice
    20 Camden St. First Floor
    Toronto, ON
    M5V 1V1
    tel: 416-850-8602
    fax: 416-850-8601