Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cool Tool 4: Book Creator

As promised in my "Cool Tool 3: Explain Everything" post, I have finally finished creating an eBook using Book Creator. After our week 3 videos on eBooks, I was very intrigued and wanted to find out more about having students create eBooks in the classroom. I had a chance to connect with Jon Smith via email and asked him a few questions. One of my questions was if he recommended using iBooks Author over Book Creator or vice versa. His response was:

"I like book creator because it is so simple to use. I also like it because you could make a very good book only using the iPad. Anything that can be put into the camera roll can be added to book creator. I'm a huge fan of app smashing. 
iBooks Author is a little harder to use (slightly). It also offers up a more robust experience. However, book creator can make some really good books and it's much easier for young kids to use. I work with a KDG teacher and her kids have gotten to a pint where they will make their own books without help from the teacher."

With that, I decided to try out Book Creator, but was wondering, "What is app smashing?" So I checked it out and decided that I do that all the time and it would make sense that students would do that, too, when creating projects to help them make the best book possible. One example I was already thinking of was from the main video when Explain Everything was discussed to incorporate videos showing students thinking. Therefore, I included my Explain Everything creation on the water cycle in the eBook I created.

Anyways, back to Book Creator! I decided to download the $4.99 version of the app instead of the free version because I know this is something that I want to use with my students. I decided to create a book about water and the water cycle so that I could incorporate my Explain Everything video, as mentioned above.

The Book Creator app can create landscape, portrait, and square eBooks. With the app you can include text, photos, sound, and videos. The app has functions to change the font, font color, font size, background color, picture size, and video size. You can also make the background color on the left and right side of the book different. The app has a feature that you can turn on guides and snap items to the guides which makes aligning items on a page very easy, however, this function can be turned off if you do not want the app to automatically align items for you. Another feature that is noteworthy is the pen tool. The pen allows you to draw and annotate your book. The app also has comic book templates you can use when creating eBooks. Finally, when books are finished, you can upload them as PDFs, videos, or ePubs. They can also be shared to a variety of apps.

Below are three screen shots of most of the options you will come across when creating a book.

This tool could be used in the classroom in so many different ways. Students could collaborate to make eBooks or create them independently. Students could use the app to create informative eBooks on topics they have researched or learned about or they could create fiction and nonfiction narratives, among other things. I also like the idea of app smashing discussed above and having students use other apps, like Explain Everything, to add to their book. I would use this in my classroom because it is a way to incorporate technology into the classroom that teaches students 21st century skills. The app also engages students more than if they were to just write or type a research report, biography, story, etc. It gives them more options when creating them and gives them more room to be creative. I also really like Jon Smith's idea of having students publish their eBooks on iTunes. Publishing these books gives students a greater purpose for creating them and they will most likely put more effort into them since they know they will have a huge audience instead of just the teacher, class, or their family. I also loved how by adding them to iTunes students can incorporate math and geography skills by tracking where the downloads are, graphing how many downloads they get, and analyzing the data.

Students of all ages could definitely use this app to create eBooks because it is very user-friendly. Jon Smith's website also has eBooks created by students of all ages that are a testament that students can definitely use the app. Younger students would definitely need support while learning the app, but I'm sure they would pick it up fast. Older students, however, would not require much support at all if they already are pretty tech-savvy. I did not come across an aspects of the app that I thought would be challenging for students.

Here is my eBook creation that I saved and uploaded as a video.

I'm interested in knowing if anyone has used this app with their students. What have you done with it? Have there been any challenges? Even if you haven't used this app yet, what are some ideas you have for using it? I highly recommend trying out Book Creator if you haven't yet. I can't wait to start using it with my class!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I, too, want to better understand using this tool in the classroom. Thanks for all the information that you shared. I think it's great that you contacted Jon and that he responded.