My first reaction to being in an eBook seminar was to say the least, lukewarm. To begin with, I was old school and cherished books, real books that had pages to turn. My brother gave me his old Kindle last year and it still sits in the box. My romantic notion of books seemed to override what eBooks had to offer. I thought of switching seminars, if it was possible, into another seminar that was more intriguing like wearable technology or virtual worlds. But, after more thought, (and how could I put a wrench in my professors ‘artfully engineered seminar schedule?). I decided to leave things as they were and trust I would be enlightened and, not only learn how eBooks are impacting education, but also how eBooks might be an emerging technology that could become part of my teaching practise.
My pleasant surprise came half way through the eBook seminar week when I stopped defending books and began to experience a new version of reading. Interactive eBooks range from learning all about wildlife in WWF Together to a voice- activated cookbook called Mind Watering-Cook & Look. Imagine being able to get your hands messy mixing dough and never have to touch the recipe book with gooey fingers! Or how about Bridging Book , an “engage” book that has both digital and printed versions that synchronize together for a new reading experience? It is no wonder why Greenfield, author of If Kids Are Our Future, Our Future is eBooks, predicts that the eBook revolution’s next wave will be led by kids. According to Digital Book World, “When it comes to e-reading, children truly are the future.” Knowing kids are engaging with eBooks more and more each year as technology continues to enhance their reading experience, should signal to educators that eBooks are an emerging technology that needs to be explored.
My week of exploring eBooks ended with the task of publishing my own eBook. I still had access to an iPad so I naturally chose iPad apps for story creating. I tried out two iPad apps for creating eBooks, My Little Star Story Creator and Little Story Creator. Both of these apps were very easy to use and had a clean look to them. I added voice overs and could choose colourful backgrounds to match my images on each page. My choice for content for making an eBook was a natural one. I was introducing my Creativity Square project to my art 9-12 class. In keeping with my class theme of “We Are All Creative Thinkers”, my art students last semester were asked “What is Creativity?” The whole class brainstormed ideas and each student was then required to create a composition depicting what creativity meant to them. The project had such amazing results, I wanted to reintroduce it to my new art students. When I knew I had to create an eBook, I immediately thought, what better way to introduce the project than with an eBook ? I took photos of the creativity squares with the iPad and easily uploaded them into the eBook. Everything about creating the eBook was simple; the only tough part was choosing which images to add ! The major glitch arrived when I realized I had no way of exporting the eBooks off my iPad to be viewed online as they were created. The only way I could share them was play the book on my iPad(which I did individually for my art class) or email them to myself in a PDF form, which I have included in this post.
I decided to research other ways to create eBooks on my laptop. I found a great website by Richard Byrne which reviewed the two tools I chose next to experiment with: Youblisher and simplebooklet . Youblisher turns any PDF file into an online magazine that even adds page turning affects. This was perfect for my eBook that I had just emailed to myself in PDF form. I created a simple book, but I saw great potential for using Youblisher for English and History courses with the creation of online magazines. This would be an excellent tool for demonstrating student learning at the end of a unit. Simplebooklet allows you to make a variety of web booklets. I created a simple flipbook that was straightforward and easy to use. The only visible drawback was the free version only allowed ten booklets and advertising was embedded throughout the book. Certainly, I would choose to purchase the tool if I were to use it regularly in my class( only ten dollars a year for a teacher account) . Simplebooklet also allows the user to upload a PDF file and have it customized into a web booklet that could be used for flyers, brochures and newsletters. In no time at all, my eBook on “What is Creativity?” was easily created using the basic uploading of images and adding text. The finished eBook can be shared by email, social media sites, websites and blogs.
My “lukewarm” beginning to the EBook seminar ended with a very enthusiastic response to using this emerging technology in my classroom. EBooks promote engagement to student learning which fits perfectly with my teaching philosophy that education is interest. Students who are engaged are interested and motivated to learn. My work with Inquiry-based learning and self-directed learning is successful due to student choice and freedom to demonstrate their learning in various ways. EBooks present one more tool to add to my emerging technology use that will increase engagement and provide a creative way for students to demonstrate their learning.
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. If Kids are Our Future, Our Future is Ebooks. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2013/01/31/if-kids-are-our-future-our-future-is-ebooks/
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. More than Half of US Kids Reading Ebooks, New Report shows. Retrieved from http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/more-than-half-u-s-kids-reading-ebooks-new-report-shows/
Byrne, R. Create Your Own Ebooks. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite/ebooks-and-audiobooks/create-your-own-ebooks