Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Reasons to Try iBooks Author

Today's blogger is Lindsay Hudak, PBL and Technology Integration Specialist at Tri Creek School District.

Technology integration brings with it many new ideas that are explored by districts, individual teachers and/or students. One of many ideas that has been explored are electronic books, most commonly known as eBooks or ePubs. While there are a variety of uses in education for eBooks, most often we hear the term eBooks being tossed around as a replacement for traditional textbooks when they can really be much more! eBooks have the ability to be a transformative tool that both teachers and students can use in the classroom. One of my favorite eBook creation tools is iBooks Author. Here are 10 reasons why I think iBooks Author has the ability to transform the way teachers teach and students learn.

1. Easy to Use: 

iBooks author is one of the easiest platforms to use. If you are already a Mac user you will notice that the format of the program looks similar to that of Pages and Keynote. You don’t have to be a professor or a coder to develop an interactive textbook. iBooks author offers the use of ease through templates, drag and drop features for various sources such as video, text, music, and other media, widgets, and the ability to import keynote presentations. Which leads to reason # 2.

2. Interactive: 

Creating a book using iBooks Author allows for you and students to have an interactive experience. iBooks Author offers a variety of pre-loaded widgets that help you easily create interactive items for your book. Some of these widgets include:
    • A gallery of photos where readers can swipe through multiple photos
    • Graphics with callouts that can be zoomed in to see more detailed information
    • Popovers, which are overlays that open when taped or clicked 
    • Media sources such as video
    • Interactive multiple choice questions 
    • Keynote presentations that can be imported into your eBook

3. Customizable: 

Each book that you create is customizable. You can create a book that matches your classroom and curriculum needs. Better yet, your students could also help create that book for you. Having students create review videos or quizzes that they can put in the book helps reinforce the content for themselves and could be a resource for future students. Perhaps, you might even have students create resource books that can be used by other students for a variety of reasons. Examples might include: strategies to write an essay, interview skills, SAT prep, etc. 

4. Can be Differentiated

iBooks can be differentiated to fit the level of need of your students. While you can customize your book to fit the needs of your curriculum and class you can also do the same to fit the needs of your students. You might think of creating an eBook that has leveled texts, videos, assessment questions, etc. Your own students could play an active role in developing their own differentiated textbook. eBooks also host a variety of tools that can help assist students such as text to talk features or using the audio features. I’ve seen foreign language students develop textbooks that they would translate and voice over as an audio book as well as ELA students using a Spanish textbook to translate with an English voiceover. 

5. Reinforces 21st Century Skills: 

Student created eBooks can reinforce many of the 21st century skills we are already teaching students. eBooks allow students to take large amounts of research and resources and compile it into an easy to understand resource book to help them become an active learner. Doing so, reinforces their comprehension and understanding of the discipline they are studying. They can collaborate with each other or with teachers to create interactive eBooks for themselves or for others all while focusing on digital literacy. Imagine what a student could do in college if they know how to create an interactive resource book that organizes their notes, readings, presentations, etc. digitally. 

6. Provides Evidence of Learning: 

Creating an eBook with iBooks author can be a great way for students to gather what they have learned throughout the year in their classes. Imagine a digital version of a binder. Previous students might have collected artifacts and resources from classes to use for studying, future resources or hold onto for the duration of the class in traditional 3 ring binder. With eBooks, and specifically iBooks author, students can take with them a digital version of all the resources and artifacts they gathered from class to class. Remember that lesson on how to effectively write an essay? Now you have it in digital format accompanied with handouts, videos, presentations, and example writing. Need to give a speech but don’t remember what to do? Perhaps you had an English eBook that created interactive material that you can view to help you prepare for that next speech. 

7. Authentic Audiences: 

Creating eBooks and using iBooks Author gives students a chance to produce work for an authentic audience. Our district libraries currently offer many resources for students through an outside provider. How great would it be to start producing student made material for other students to look at. There are a variety of ways that iBooks Author can create an authentic audience for students. Students might publish their book and share it with others inside or even outside of the school. Giving students an authentic writing task helps motivate them to become stronger writers and avid learners. 

8. Accessible: 

Once you download an eBook created in iBooks Author you are not required to have an internet connection to continue to use it. Develop your book on a Mac, download it and continue to use it without an internet connection! eBooks can be a great way for students that don’t have the Internet or have to be out of class for an extended period of time to stay caught up with class in a digital world. 

9. Creates Empowerment: 

Anyone can be a writer. Many students are intimidated by the formal writing process or the 5 paragraph essay. eBooks allow for anyone to be a writer and makes writing fun. Teach and develop writing skills by adding a layer of empowerment and control into what students are creating. eBooks don’t always have to be used to create an interactive textbook. iBooks Author's easy to use templates offer you a variety of ways you can use their program. Perhaps you use iBooks author as a way to incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom.

10. FREE: 

Yes, you read it right, iBooks Author is FREE to use. Download it from the app store and try it out!


Have you used iBooks author in your classes before? If so please share how you have used it. If you haven’t used it how might you use it?

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