I was thrilled last school year when our First Graders created their own Read Along Audiobook for the iPad. My regret was that while it was created TO BE READ on the iPad, it was not CREATED on the iPad. I used a wordprocessor, then converted it with an online converter to then be able to import the ePub file to my iPad. Not a “fluent” solution.
A few days ago, I ran across Dan Amos on Twitter, announcing his
soon to be released app called Book Creator (Released on September 15, 2011). When I contacted him to find out the possible educational uses of the app, he was so kind to extend a promo code for me to give a test run.
The app is super intuitive! I was working on a book for my 7 year old niece (who lives in Brazil) in no time. It took me about 30 minutes to put together a book for her, publish in iBooks and email the ePub file to my brother…to open it up on his iPad…. for my niece to read it.
The book cover and project file in the Book Creator app (image above)
The interface is uncluttered and simple. The most important buttons in the upper right toolbar are for images, text, formatting and exporting.
I easily imported images, that were in my iPad Photo Album. Images that were not originally on the device, were saved quickly from Facebook, a website or an email attachment.
The text was a snap to insert and to format. My niece has taught herself how to read in Spanish (her parents speak Spanish to her), while the official language at her school is Portuguese. She is also starting to learn German. The color coded boxes contain the text in Spanish and German for her.
I used Wikipedia to save the images of the map and flag into my photo album. I received rave reviews from my niece about the book. She absolutely loved it. We are currently writing a book together about her newest favorite music group :ABBA
This week another opportunity presented itself to test and use the app with students at school. Our school is hosting two children from Germany this school year. The sister is in first grade, the brother in 2nd grade. Both arrived a few weeks ago, without being able to speak one word of English. Their teachers, classmates, as well the rest of the school is quite curious and very eager to communicate with them.
The two siblings, six and seven years old, had never seen or touched an iPad before. They were immediately interested and eager to create a book. They came up with the title “Our School in Florida”. We talked about what kind of images they wanted in their book, then walked around to shoot them with the iPad. I showed them how to tap the image icon to insert their images onto a page and then resize them.
They dictated, in German, their comments for each image to me. I added a second textbox with the English translation for them.
Once completed, the book was sent to iBooks, ready to be synced with our classroom set of iPads and for the rest of their teachers and classmates to read. Both children were very excited and proud of their work. I was also able to see how many words in English they had already learned as they were describing the images to me and “helped” with the translation.
Book Creator is an app that “finally” allows to anyone to create a book by staying completely within the iPad environment. It is an app that takes the concept of transformative teaching and learning to heart. I can envision many more uses for teachers and students.
- Students creating their own textbooks, collaborating as each student contributes a chapter/topic/theme. The iBook shelf hosts and organized the library of all self-created books.
- Students publish an essay or poetry anthology of their work.
- The Official Scribe could pull information together from curriculum reviewer and researcher (from the roles outlined by the Digital Learning Farm) at the end of a chapter or unit to create an iBook and share with the rest of the class.
- Older students can create books with topics of interest for the younger students.
- Connect with the Art teacher to have students create the accompanying illustrations for any book (First graders are going to be creating a book about the life cycle of the butterfly. They will illustrate the illustration during Art)
Features I would like to see the app develop:
- Allowing copy/paste feature for text
- Other language support (When I showed the app to our Hebrew teachers, they were excited and immediately wanted to know if the Hebrew alphabet was supported, including the right to left writing)
- Ability to record audio into the book (Dan Amos already let me know that this feature is in the works for the next upgrade)
- Ability to record or embed video into the book.
- Collaboration possible between several (classroom set) of iPads. Ability to export and then insert pages created on another iPad, so students can create their own chapters or part of a larger book.
- Ability to export book to an online space to then get an embed code, so book can be embedded on a classroom blog. Parents who do not have an eBook reader are able to view the book as well. Similar to Mixbook.
The app gets two thumbs up from me. I also placed Book Creator on the highest level of my iPad’s Bloom’s Taxonomy. It opens up the possibility of amplifying writing, reading and sharing and “leaving a legacy” wth meaningful work. The app is a great example of increased fluency on the iPad.
I already have talked with several teachers on different grade levels to collaborate in getting the iPads with the app in students’ hands and see what they will create. Stay tuned…
Take a look at the video from the developer to learn more about its features.