Over the last few weeks a few of our staff have begun experimenting with the potential of digital publishing using ePub, both for students and teachers. We are excited about the possibilities, and we imagine digital publishing being used for:
- Students publishing their own fiction writing within the school community
- Students creating images and videos to embed into written documents (i.e., student developed ‘Khan Academy’)
- Teachers creating integrated digital resources to share promising practices (i.e., multimedia teaching materials)
- Teachers creating unit guides for students (combination of text, visuals, videos and links)
Why create ePubs? ePubs have a number of functions that PDFs or WORD documents don’t, including:
- easily resizing the font size for readability on the device
- clickable table of contents
- makes use of the embedded dictionary on the device
- the ability to highlight text and add notes
- text to speech so the text can be read to students
- embedded videos
- embedded links to external sites
- embedded links within the document
- kids get excited about seeing their content in an iBook!
We have been creating our ePub documents through Apple’s Pages – as it allows you to export documents as ePubs. These ePub documents can then be read on an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhones by simply navigating to a site and clicking on the files. This will download the file into the iBooks app.
As a way to share these materials, we have set up two websites as ‘book rooms’ – (unfortunately the web.me.com pages are no longer available). Since we run Apple servers for our school, it was easy for us to create simple wikis to host the ePubs. While they don’t look like much right now, these wikis allow us to easily upload Pubs and then share them, both within our school or beyond.
We have set up one wiki as a place for student-created content. This site is designed to be a place where students will share their writing within the school community. This site is currently blocked to the public – you have to have a Calgary Science School login to access the student book room. Also, right now only teachers have access to upload content – but that can be easily changed to allow students to upload content directly to the site.
The other site we have created (unfortunately the web.me.com pages are no longer available) is a place for us to share professional resources or student examples.
It works best by visiting the link on a device that can read ePubs (such as iPads, etc) since you will be able to download and view some of our sample documents. On this link you’ll see examples of student graphic novels, short stories with trailers, student-created textbooks and teacher materials.
We’re just in the early stages of experimentation and we share these documents with the hope exploring what’s possible. We hosted a discussion session about digital publishing – and we’ll share the outcomes of that session.
So what ideas do you see for using ePubs? Do you know better ways to create and share ePubs? What ways might you use these with students, teachers, parents or sharing with the community?