Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Digital Textbooks

Digital Textbooks
With the iBooks Author App and iTunes U App, schools have even more on offer to utilise existing textbook content or to create their own.

iBooks2 offers students and teachers an enhanced interactive experience with not just video but ability to insert Keynote presentations, Q&A, Youtube videos, etc. A much improved way of authoring an iBook with a more interactive book than the other alternatives via Pages or specific Apps. See our previous post on ways to create iBooks.

A few caveats for iBooks Author:
  • Requires Lion OS on your Mac
  • The published file is in a format you can only open in iBooks (not ePub)
  • Produces very large files.

In saying the above, having just created my first iBook using the App it is a very intuitive application, easy to use and publishes stunning interactive books in a very short time. It comes with lots of built in widgets to create activities, galleries etc. However, if you can't find the widget you need, for example, you need to embed a Youtube video or an interactive timeline, you can use Class Widgets to provide you with a widget that can be embedded in your iBook template.

See my simple example created via the iBooks Author, which you can download via your iPad and open in iBooks. (click on the image to download the file):

iTunesU
Not up to creating your own iBooks yet, but want quality educational material in a more interactive format for your students. A search of the catalog of the iTunes U App provides a a wealth of interactive books on a range of curriculum materials. You would need to consider the copyright of each resource but students would be able to download these resources for their personal non-commercial use.

For example the Open University has a very useful textbook "Introducing the environment: ecology and ecosystems" with activities embedded in the book.

Apple's recent announcement that it will provide textbooks via partnership with leading educational publishers via iTunes U will be another resource for students and teachers. However these books would require students to purchase them individually. Schools will need to balance the costs of this for their students.

Open content for Textbooks
With concerns around possible costs around using Apple delivered iBook textbooks it may be that a better option for schools is to create their own digital textbooks for their students using iBooks Author App.

Alternatively schools could look for open sources of material that they can access via their iPad. Organisations like CK-12 make available open content material that can be opened in iBooks as is (pdf format) or adapted as long as you give proper attribution to CK-12.

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