Book Creator has been shortlisted for Best Educational App in the BETT Awards 2015. The Book Creator team will be attending BETT this year. Get in touch with us @BookCreatorApp if you’re there and you’d like to say hello!
By Red Jumper
These days there are countless educational apps available for a range of devices in the classroom. Pick any subject on the curriculum and you should be able to find a tailor-made app that will help students learn about anything from algebra, to spelling, to Portuguese!
But teachers we speak to are often looking for something that is more flexible and open-ended. An app that allows the students to be creative and can fit into any curriculum area. That’s where we think Book Creator comes into its own.
With Book Creator you can make your own ebooks using a range of media – text, images, drawing – and you can even add your own sound or video. You’re limited only by the creativity of the teacher and the students, and we’ve seen examples all over the world of just how creative you can be!
Book Creator for Windows
The Red Jumper team are working hard at making the Book Creator app available for Windows, and hope to release this in the summer.
The Windows version will work on Surface tablets and PCs running Windows 8.1. In fact, we’re really excited that this is the first version of Book Creator that will work on desktops and laptops rather than just tablets!
The app will include all the features that teachers love about Book Creator – text editing and styling, and the ability to add images, audio, videos and drawing. Look out too for integration with Microsoft OneDrive for an easy way to backup and share your books to the cloud.
We’re also developing a web-based reader so teachers will be able to share ebooks with anyone, anywhere, regardless of whether they have their own device for reading ebooks.
Find out more about future developments at bookcreator.com.
And, without further ado, here are our top 5 reasons for creating ebooks in the classroom.
1. Students can collaborate
Some of the best learning experiences come when kids learn from each other. So how about this example from Avenues School in New York, who used Twitter and Skype to connect with schools around the world to collaborate on a global ebook! They have gone on to publish a series of global books, with more in the pipeline.
How it works:
Schools from around the world each work on their own ebook in Book Creator. They focus on the subject (for example a description of their school) and can represent this in any way they wish. Some classes choose to record a short video and embed it in the book, others take photos, or record a short audio message.
When done, they email the ebook back to the Avenues school in New York, and the individual pages are combined into one book. The finished ebook can then be shared with all participants by saving it to OneDrive and sharing the link.
This cross-cultural collaboration provides an authentic learning experience for students which really broadens their horizons.
2. Students get an audience for their work
We often hear that pupils are much, much more motivated when they know that the work they produce will be read by a wider audience than just their teacher.
When creating for teachers, kids will do ‘just enough’. When writing for someone else, they will do more than enough. And what’s more, you’ll find that getting kids to edit their work, which is usually a painful process, becomes easier when they can visualise the audience that they are writing for.
Here’s an example – get kids to write an instruction book to explain to younger students how to tie their shoelaces! The students can be as creative as they like – how many of them will work out that a video is much better then a written description of the steps?
3. A better way to document and record learning
There are many ways to track and record a pupil’s development, but ebooks can work as a perfect platform for creating learning journals that can be easily stored and shared with parents.
Here’s how it works, in the example of physical education:
· Record a short video of a student performing an activity (e.g. doing a triple jump).
· Get the student to create an ebook, and add his/her reflection on how they thought they performed the activity.
· The student then shares the ebook with their teacher for appraisal, and the teacher gives their own feedback on how the student could improve next time (even better if the teacher records audio feedback rather than having to type).
The beauty of using ebooks in this manner for digital portfolios is that they are interactive between the teacher and student, can be iterative, and easily saved and shared when finished.
It’s not just a collection of pages of work in a file to take home at the end of the year.
4. Opportunities to ‘App Smash’
App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps in a chain to create a finished product. Because Book Creator can be used to import and organise all types of formats – text, images, video – it is often used as the last step in an ‘app smash’.
So, for example, let’s say a teacher has created a series of screencasts using the Windows app Explain Everything. These screencasts can be exported as video files and imported into Book Creator with ease, to create a book that could span a whole curriculum subject or topic area.
Or if you want to flip it the other way and get students to do the app smashing, you could get them to do some ‘field research’ around the school, taking photos with their Windows Surface tablets, and then editing them with an app like Adobe Photoshop Express before importing them into Book Creator for their research ebooks.
5. Students of all abilities can create ebooks
Book Creator is such a simple app to use that it’s breaking boundaries in special education.
Mathieu Marunczyn, a teacher in Melbourne, Australia, said this:
Working in a school with special needs students has numerous challenges, and much like any school, essential literacy and numeracy skills are an important part of the curriculum. What Book Creator has enabled my students and colleagues at Jackson School to do goes beyond anything that was previously possible.
There are many way in which creating ebooks can empower students with special needs, but here are two examples.
In the first example, students who were always shy about reading in front of their peers read and recorded their voice to their ebook with absolute confidence. However, the really inspiring moment came when a student who has a diagnosed speech impediment read three full sentences without missing a beat.
In another example, a class of autistic students created a ‘social skills’ book together to help identify appropriate behaviour in school. They were really motivated by the fact their books would be ‘published’ and were thrilled when they realised they could record their own voice instead of type into the book.
So, that’s five good reasons to start creating ebooks in your classroom. If you’ve got more, why not share them in the comments below?