iBooks Author is a versatile yet powerful tool. Sometimes, though, people merely see it used in a certain way or in a particular subject, which can make it difficult to think of different applications of it. The purpose of this article is to break down the walls that separate our various contents and allow everyone a look into each other's rooms.
Very quickly, you will discover there is no "right way" for a multi-touch book to look, and no certain amount of interaction to be embedded on each page; each book will vary according to instructional purpose and content.
In English I use iBooks Author to create iBooks that will make difficult novels more accessible. I try to anticipate student questions by providing resources that help illustrate the points or that help visualize concepts or objects that the students may be unfamiliar with. I incorporate vocabulary, study-guide questions, reviews, video clips, 3D objects, and a multitude of widgets: in short, I use technology to solve a problem. With iBooks I augment texts in a way that facilitates better engagement and analysis.
I chose to create iBooks for my Health classes because traditionally the department uses a xeroxed 90 page packet of resources that have become out of date, irrelevant or were just plain boring. By creating small iBooks that cover anywhere from 1 lesson to 2 weeks worth of lessons I am able to compile up to date, interactive resources and old the book with live links that allow students interested in a topic to research it more fully. I am able to refer to the school YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) figures which means that all statistics specifically refer to our own community. This allows us to compare our behaviors to those of other teens in Illinois and across the country. This creates great discussion on the topics of perception, health disparities and advocacy for those less healthy than ourselves. Each book contains a final page of resources - these will show students who in the building is the best person to speak to regarding the topic, there will be links to local community service providers, plus Twitter accounts worth following (tweeting on that specific subject), TED talks, recent news articles etc. Finally, I have the iBooks in mind when I create student assignments. Examples of great work, including artwork, writing, online poll results and podcasts are added to the iBook, so that next semester students get to see an example of the quality of response that I am looking for. This raises the standard of assignments as students see an example of the best I have seen, and this becomes the standard that future students look to better.
As an EdTech Coach at Korea International School, I wrote an iBook for our parents to offer tips about raising children with mobile devices. Many parents enjoyed reading the book in an engaging format and it also introduced the idea of digital textbooks. As an administrator at Saipan International School, I am using an iBook to communicate our vision and strategic plan to the community.
iBooks Author is a very valuable tool in an American Government class. Almost any content that is available on a .gov website can be freely reused to create your own iBook. iBooks Author allows the teacher to curate the content from relevant government websites, combine that with materials the teacher has created, and publish it all in an attractive format that engages students.
When using iBooks Author to create a book that involves math content, the exploration widgets add the interactive pieces that students need to see and understand the mathematics. Being able to use geogebra widgets truly enhances the learning. Also, being able to add images and then use the popover widgets to hide information about the parts and pieces, allows students to think before seeing the answers. Having updated images, and using those from our own school, shows students where math is all around them. Being able to add definitions, images, explorations and review questions, tailored to the students' interests and needs is a huge advantage for all subject areas when using iBooks Author.
Digital Literacy Coach, UWCSEA
The multi-media approach to creating a book with iBooks Author really engages our young writers. In Grade 3, students have created non-fiction books with 3D content, quality images and interactive images. They are proud to make a 'real book'. It makes them truly feel like authors. Primary age students enjoy learning through multi-media content, so it makes sense for them to want to create and publish books in the same way.
I use iBooks Author to have students write and publish books. I have found that students write better stuff when they have the opportunity for a global audience. I've done this with special education students and general education students from kindergarten to 12th grade. I've used iBooks Author to help students demonstrate their learning from class, enhance the learning in class and extend the learning to a global audience.
I think examples and templates are key when sharing a teaching approach or new tool. One way to do this would be to provide a model or template for teachers to use that could be easily modified with a checklist of resources to be added to it (e.g. a slideshow, a scrolling piece of info, a movie, an assessment). When you scaffold and model a tool and provide best practices and ideas for using it in the classroom, teachers can really run with these ideas provided they have the time to create and explore.
In an ELA classroom, iBooks Author helps address student needs with a piece of text and allows for more differentiated instruction. The ability to enhance text with supporting audio, offer guiding questions through widgets, and create community and collaboration within the textbook means that there can be something for everybody. For the struggling reader, assistance with vocabulary and basic comprehension can help them tackle a piece of literature that might otherwise prove daunting. For other students, critical and historical frameworks can add richness to their understand and spur more critical thinking. For those at higher levels of achievement, interactivity can mean intertextuality as they are challenged to draw more significant connections and consider larger frameworks. One well-crafted digital text in iBooks Author can present in all of these modalities to all of these learners.
iBooks Author has become the tool I use to package and deliver media-rich interactive content to my high school math students. Reading an academic math text requires quite a lot of our students. By no means do I wish to replace the scholarly text with video after video. However, adding interactive content allows such text to be written in a manner that allows the reader to learn through inquiry. Math text written in iBooks Author allow for students to interact with objects, discovering concepts and relationships, seeing patterns, and making conjectures on their own. In addition, teacher created iBooks give the teacher greater control over the content, allowing updated versions to be published in real time.