Reduce Waste, Save Space, Increase Learning

Teachers and students can easily create their own iBooks.

April 13, 2015
Isaac Pineda
Technology coordinator

CATEGORIES Technology Integration, Tools, In the Classroom

Schools have closets and storerooms stacked floor to ceiling with textbooks. For decades, kids’ backs have bent and their backpacks burst from the weight of heavy books. Today, technology has the power to lighten the load and reduce the waste and expense of traditional textbooks. With ebooks, information is easily updated without the need for a new printing. Tablets can hold much more information than dozens of textbooks, and are much easier on students’ backs and school storage space. Best of all, though, teachers and students can create -- and share -- their own learning materials easily using content-creation tools like iBooks Author.

Let’s explore a few ways teachers and students can publish their own learning materials.

Teacher-created material for instruction
This alternative offers a great deal of personalization and relevance, along with very updated content. Traditional textbooks serve for a brief number of years, and typically the content is static. On the other hand, teachers creating this kind of multi-touch book offer updated content that taps into the latest technologies to enhance kids' learning. An example of this is Similarity, a powerful unit of study for high school Geometry in a multi-touch book, created by fellow teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator Anthony DiLaura.

Student-created material for instruction
This is what I consider a true digital age learning endeavor, where kids are the ones escalating through Bloom's Revised Taxonomy up to the point where all of their learning is evidenced in the creation of instructional units. Kids truly show their understanding when they are capable of explaining and teaching it to others. The process is a little more challenging but highly rewarding. An example of this is The Odyssey, a multi-touch book created by ninth-graders in Monterrey, Mexico, which reflects their understanding of the epic poem. A more detailed and descriptive process for having kids create ebooks can be found in this free iTunes U course for teachers.

Published collections of student work
This is one of the simplest ways to implement creating ebooks in the classroom. Teachers can create a simple workflow for students to follow to create digital media and place this media in a logical and ordered way in the ebook. Create ebooks as collections of student-written stories, poems, art, presentations, and much more. One of my favorite examples is from the second-graders at my school: They created, with their teacher's guidance, The Little Character Collection where they incorporated their own written stories, hand-drawn illustrations, and a voice-over.

But iBooks Author isn’t the only tool for creating multi-touch books. In fact, many content-creation apps empower students and teachers to create original content. The Lesson Flow, Flipping your Instruction: Students as Teachers, offers ideas for having students create educational lessons themselves by reflecting on what they've learned.

Photo: "Textbooks" by timuiuc. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.