Tuesday, May 1, 2012

eBooks in the Classroom Webinar (EXTRA CREDIT!)

Photo from flickr.com by Sean MacEntee
Lately, it seems that you see more eBooks, or electronic books for those of you who have never heard this piece of jargon before, than you see paperback books.  It almost seems quite possible that paperback books will become the thing of the past and eBooks will be the new form of book whether you are reading a book or magazine for pleasure or reading a textbook for class.  eBooks have become quite popular due to the fact that they are easy to use as well as easy to read.  They are books that are put on lightweight devices like Nooks, Kindles, etc. that you can carry around with you.  In just one eBook device you can hold several books.  This device would be extremely advantageous for college students because instead of carrying around several heavy books with them they could have several eBooks housed in one small and easy to use device.  I know what you are saying, if it is on an electronic device how could I highlight important passages?  Well, on these devices there are several tools you can use.  One of which is a highlighting device.  There is also a tool where you can add your own notes.  Something that is incredibly hard to do in the small margins of a paperback book.  Not only do you have all the content you need for several classes at the tips of your fingers, but all of the notes that accompany it together. 

Now, you may be asking yourself why would I take the time to blog about eBooks?  All they are is a book that you can read electronically.  Are they really of that importance?  What's so significant about them?  Well, just less than an hour ago I watched a webinar which is an audio of a lecture with screen captures to go with it.  This webinar was all about how anyone can make and eBook and publish it for the world to see.  In this webinar Anne Daughrity explained how she created and eBook about publishing eBooks.  How awesome is that.  What I thought was so awesome is that you can do this all on an iPad.  Isn't that amazing?  Just one little iPad can create and publish a book.  What a way to get your thoughts and views over something important to you out there for the world to see.  You don't even have to go through a publisher or anything.  It is all up to you.  Anyways, the point that Daughrity made with the video is that anyone at any age can make a book.  During this webinar she showed us how to accomplish this goal.  There are several apps that are available for you and your students to use when creating an eBook.  Two of these apps are Creative Book Builders and My Stories.  I found My Stories to be a great app because I would like to teach early elementary age children.  For more information about what this app has to offer visit this website.  It is important for teachers to know that if they are going to have their students create an eBook some apps are designed for older students while other like My Stories are more child friendly where even kindergartners can use them.  In fact Daughrity said that she was able to watch a kindergartner make an eBook and that the student didn't really need any help figuring out how to use the app.  This just goes to show that students are more aware of how things work more than we as adults give them credit for.  In these apps writing text isn't the only thing that you can do.  The creators of the eBooks can add photos and videos that they have made, attach links, create their own pictures or drawings, and add their own audio commentary.  This audio commentary would be very helpful for younger students because not all of these younger students have the capability of writing their story down into text for others to read. 

I think that these eBooks will have a great impact on learning and education.  As I stated before students are able to house all of their books on one easy to use device.  As I have noticed many times students don't have their books with them because they are heavy and don't want to bring them because they never know if they are going to use them or not in class.  Well, with these new eBook devices this shouldn't happen anymore.  The students will now always have their books on hand and more importantly the notes that I'm sure all college students will take with them.  You know what great students we are.  Extremely devoted to our studies.;)  Anyways, back to practical uses in the classroom.  By creating eBooks and publishing them the students will be empowered because what they created will be put out for the world to see.  Since these will be published the students will work harder because it will matter to them that other people will see these.  I know I worked really hard on my e-Portfolio because I knew perspective employers would be seeing it.  Other beneficial factors of publishing eBooks is that the students learn to collaborate with other students because more than likely these books will be made in groups in a classroom and through working in groups the students will be able to feed off of each other's ideas.  It has been seen that through the publication process the students' self-esteem goes up because they feel proud of what they have accomplished.  And why shouldn't they?  It's not everyday you can say you published your own book whether you can read it for free or not. 

When I am a teacher with my own class I hope to incorporate having my students make an eBook.  Instead of just writing a boring book report the students can create a miniature eBook of the book they read.  By the time I am a teacher all books may even be read on an eBook, so the students will make an eBook about an eBook.  How crazy is that?  Also, another thing that was mentioned in the webinar was that students with disabilities can make these eBooks as well.  If their literacy skills aren't very high they can use the audio tool to narrate their book instead of writing out the text.  Since I want to be a special education teacher this is a great resource to use.  The use of iPads for students with disabilities is a great resource for them to have.  For more information on iPads and special education visit this website to see how they can be use on a regular basis to foster learning.  I hope you enjoyed reading about how to make an eBook.  I know I have and can't wait to try it out!