Digital Textbooks

Shakespeare in Bits

Published: 4 February 2013

The rise of the tablet PC and the availability of content distribution channels such as the iBooks Store and the Amazon Store heralds a period were the digital textbook will become commonplace in schools and homes across the globe. This article examines and reviews the set of english literature applications that have been produced by Mind Connex Learning Ltd. The series covers the following titles: Romeo and Juiet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar and Hamlet.


Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo and Juliet iPad Edition

Extract from the iTunes Store: 'Fall in love with Shakespeare’s timeless story of love, vengeance and tragedy - Romeo & Juliet - in full multi-media magnificence from the comfort of your iPad. Featuring the voice talents of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, along with nearly three hours of engaging animation and unabridged text, Shakespeare In Bits Romeo & Juliet promises to engage the mind and render the hearts of all who view, read and listen to it.'




Shakespeare in Bits: Macbeth iPad edition

Extract from the iTunes Store: 'Read, watch and listen as Shakespeare In Bits brings to life the tragic tale of the murderous Macbeth in one complete multi-media experience on iPad.

With two and a half hours of unabridged text, fully animated re-enactment and complete professional audio soundtrack, featuring the voices of Stephen Dillane and Fiona Shaw, Shakespeare in Bits Macbeth is the only study guide you will need to learn, teach and appreciate one of the finest works of the famous Bard.'



Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream iPad edition

Extract from the iTunes Store: 'Enjoy this magical romp through one of the Shakespeare’s funniest plays as he blends several comedic styles. A royal wedding in Athens sends four young lovers and a motley crew of amateur actors into a fairy-filled woodland where they fall under impish manipulation. Could this be real or is it a dream after all?

This Shakespeare In Bits presentation delivers up to three hours of beautifully animated film, along with professional recordings by Warren Mitchell, Michael Maloney and Sarah Woodward, and features the complete unabridged play text.'


Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar iPad School Edition

Extract from the publisher's website: 'Travel back in time to ancient Rome and join the intrigue as a group of disgruntled citizens plot a conspiracy against their illustrious dictator. Shakespeare In Bits: Julius Caesar puts you right at the bloody heart of this tale of loyalty, ambition, power, and betrayal that marked the end of the great republic. This engaging multimedia study guide will help you get to grips with Shakespeare's foremost political thriller.' [1]



Shakespeare in Bits: Hamlet iPad Edition

Extract from the iTunes Store: 'Immerse yourself in one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and influential tragedies as Shakespeare In Bits brings you on a journey of deception, revenge, treachery, indecision and moral decay through the fabled and tragic character of Hamlet. Shakespeare In Bits: Hamlet is the only study guide you will need to teach, understand and appreciate one of the most celebrated works of the famous Bard.'




Mind Connex Learning Ltd has interestingly decided to author these support materials as an iPad application rather than as an iBook. This has given the publisher greater freedom to link the animated sections of the play with supportive text. [1] The end result is a series of engaging support materials for teachers and students. The main elements of each app are shown below:


Each app has a set of biographies for all the major characters within the play. Students can also access an interactive pictogram which represents the key relationships between the major players in the cast.
The app enables students to access any scene within the play. Please note that you cannot bookmark your place within each play.
Students can view and listen to the animated version of the play whilst following the highlighted script which runs alongside the animation. The ability to access video footage would have been a bonus. The script contains a number of interactive elements which enables students to access information about the language and the major themes of the play. Students can also access notes and a synopsis for each element of the play.
Each app has an analysis section which enables students to access information relating to the following elements for each of the plays: plot summary, themes, imagery, language and quotes. The analysis section also contains a brief biography of William Shakespeare.
Students can write and edit their own notes against any section of the play. These notes are automatically compiled and ordered by the app and students can jump to the section of the play that relates to each note. Please note that students and teachers cannot highlight text and add notes against these highlighted sections.


The application works well over AppleTV and teachers can increase the size of the animated sections to full screen when presenting over an interactive whiteboard, projector or an LCD screen. The 'Shakespeare in Bits' series can be used on a traditional desktop device, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Schools can take advantage of Apple's volume purchasing programme to purchase these set of applications. The programme enables schools to purchase iOS apps in volume and distribute them to students and teachers.

The Shakespeare in Bits series gives us an insight into the growing complexity of education publishing. The apps that have been highlighted in this article demonstrate the potential for different businesses that operate in industries as far afield as film, theatre, animation and software to come together to produce inspiring and educationally rich content for students, teachers and schools across the globe. The future of education publishing looks bright.



  1. Shakespeare in Bits product tour:
Aurasma Blippar Junaio ARMedia Player Kudan Gaia Technologies