Last year, I had the opportunity to (finally) use Book Creator with our students, working with the Year 2 teachers to help their students plan and publish their first eBooks.
Students were learning about Australian Indigenous Dreamtime stories, and had the opportunity to create and illustrate their own – e.g. “How the Goanna got its’ tail”. Students started out by drafting and editing their story on paper, before typing out and illustrating their story in Book Creator. We asked students to hand draw their illustrations, which they photographed and imported into their books; however, some soon discovered that it was easier to use the pen tools to create their pictures.
Work Samples (2014) – ePub format
How the Goanna got its’ tail
Staying Safe Online – Book Creator in Year 1 (2015)
Moving into an integration role in 2015, I had the opportunity to experiment with the use of Book Creator with Grade 1 students, who were just learning how to write. Working with their classroom teachers, the Year 1 students learnt how to record their voices / short movies of themselves using the app, as they shared their learning from our ‘online safety’ activity.
Book Creator proved to be the perfect choice, as students found the tools easy to learn and use, and took great delight in creating their books. We taught them how to add their name and class to the title of their completed books, and showed them how to export their completed creations to their class Dropbox folder. We will need to keep practising this workflow; however, it should help save us an extraordinary amount of time later on!
What did we learn?
- Book Creator is a powerful, yet intuitive eBook creation app which can be easily integrated into Early Childhood learning activities.
- Older students would benefit from learning how to source and attribute Creative Commons / Public Domain images for their eBook projects; however, early childhood students love to draw their own images.
- Photographing and importing students’ work could potentially make Book Creator useful for digital portfolios or for keeping a record of a learning experience.
- The option to export books as a .mpeg movie is fantastic when students have recorded their voices in the book, but not so useful if the book is primarily text and images.
- We will need to keep refining and practising our eBook workflow, especially for saving to Dropbox. As with many iPad activities, saving and sharing students’ work can be time-consuming, although very worthwhile.
- I am hoping to create an Apple iBooks publisher account – I would dearly love for our students’ work to be published for a global audience, but this is something I will look at later in the year.
Last year, my Year 2 colleagues and I embarked on what turned out to be one of the most (over) ambitious #ipsict projects to date, creating Information Report videos about Australian animals using a mashup of HaikuDeck and Explain Everything. Now we’ve discovered Adobe Voice, I now know that there is a far simpler way to do this, but at the time this appeared to be a good idea!
Firstly, our students researched their animals, using a teacher-created scaffold to answer questions about where their animal lived, what it ate, what it looked like, and so on. Students then created a HaikuDeck presentation, choosing Public Domain/ Creative Commons images to match their questions. This part was relatively simple, although time consuming.
Using a shared class HaikuDeck account, students’ presentations synced across the iPads, so we made sure that students’ put their first name and class in the titles. We did try to ensure that students were allocated a numbered iPad for each lesson; however, the constant syncing of all the presentations was a nuisance. Until HaikuDeck brings out management tools for educators, this is something we are likely to have to put up with when using a class account.
After completing their HaikuDeck presentations, we taught our students to screenshot their slides, and import them into Explain Everything. Here, we worked out how to add and edit our voice narrations, and how to export our completed products to Dropbox. The beauty of Explain Everything is its ability to export screencasts / videos to cloud services for sharing beyond the app and the company’s website. That said, we barely scratched the surface of what EE can do in this activity, and I hope to experiment further later in the year – with a MUCH simpler activity!
What did we learn?
- We won’t run this style of mashup in Early Childhood again. It was far too complicated and time-consuming for our young students to complete within a reasonable amount of time. For this style of “information report” activity, Adobe Voice is a much more suitable app.
- That said, I believe HaikuDeck has enormous potential for use in education, perhaps from Year 3 up. Our Iona PS ICT Scope and Sequence requires us to start introducing students to slideshows in Year 3, and I think HaikuDeck has great potential in class.
- We barely scratched the surface of what Explain Everything can do. There are so many tools and options – you need to know (and teach) which options and tools students need to use to complete your activity, rather than do what we did, and try to work it out as we went along!
- Ultimately, your choice of iPad tools / apps comes down to your teaching and learning purpose, and what is best suited to the age and level of expertise of your students – an important lesson I learned the hard way.