A classroom in your eBook?

Students on 50 campuses will use iPad-based Inkling eBooks this fall.

Besides notes, highlights, and web links, an eBook company has introduced interactive and social media aspects to its tablet-based tomes, becoming the latest to blend textbooks with classroom-like chats.

Inkling, a San Francisco-based company that grabbed attention in K-12 schools and colleges last year when it began converting textbooks into Apple iPad applications, announced this month that its newest iteration would include a study group feature that lets students and professors interact within the eBook.

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If a student has questions about a class reading, for instance, she can connect with anyone else who uses the eBook converted to iPad format, or with friends on Facebook.

And for college students who want feedback from an expert on the subject at hand, the new Inkling books have expert notes included in almost every title the company provides.

The expert’s input is highlighted in different colors, making it easy to identify the supplemental tidbits among the black-and-white pages.

Matt MacInnis, Inkling’s founder and CEO, said in an Aug. 25 blog post that the eBooks’ newest social features will give instant access to the “collective wisdom” of every student, expert, and faculty member who has used the Inkling book.

“Inkling 2.0 scratches another itch we’ve felt about textbooks: they’re isolating,” MacInnis wrote. “While it’s certainly useful to focus on your studies, it’s also important to talk to people about what you’re learning. … Ask a question inside the textbook, get an answer. Have a conversation with your professor, or a professor at another school.”

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