Thing 33: eBook Creation

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INTRODUCTION

Digital book creation apps are very popular, providing a way for students to create products that combine writing, illustration, photography, media and more. They present opportunities for students to stretch their reading and writing skills, whether it’s as a long-form story, poetry, writing up a science experiment or illustrating and writing a comic strip. And educators can use these tools to create their own ebooks as well. Think of all the great OER material that you can draw on and use to create a customized “lesson books” (that sounds less daunting than a “textbook”, right?) .
Most of these apps have an option to create a PDF file that can be downloaded, shared and printed. Some also have an option to create an EPUB file. An EPUB can be opened in most eReader apps. And with an EPUB file the font size can easily be changed by the reader, making it more usable on mobile devices. Trying to read a PDF file on a smartphone or tablet is challenging since the print is likely to be very small. (Note that Kindle doesn’t support EPUB format. Annoying! Calibre to the rescue, this free software will convert EPUB to MOBI for your Kindle.)

SELECTED TOOLS

BOOK CREATOR – (iOS, Android, Windows tablet app) Clearly Book Creator is one of the most popular book creation tools in the education world. Currently available as an app for iOS, Android and Windows tablets, with a web based version coming this summer. Creating a new book is as simple as selecting from a set of standard layouts, then adding text, photos, shapes, audio and more. Content created in other apps can also be imported, making this a a great tool to have in your app-smashing arsenal. See this article on the top apps to use in conjunction with Book Creator.

Finished books can be exported in a variety of formats for sharing. There’s even a “read to me” option that will read text back to you. All in all, a fun and flexible tool. Not surprising that it’s so popular. There is a free version to test out, the full version is $4.99 on iOS. And there is a bulk discount for educational use.

STORYBIRD – Use the wonderful artwork available in Storybird as story starters. Write storybooks that are viewable online, long form books and poetry. For a small fee, you can download work in PDF format for printing. Educator accounts include classroom organization options.

Google Docs – For a books that are mostly text, Google Docs is a simple place to write and output in PDF format for sharing and printing. There is also an option to download as in ePub format which gives readers the option to read in their favorite ebook reading app. If you are adding lots of media, a better bet is Google Slides.

Google Slides and Google Drawing – Set your Google slides layout to portrait 8 1/2 x 11 and you have the layout for a traditionally sized book. (File menu –> Page Setup –> Custom) Surprisingly, it’s much easier to layout photos and other visiual content in Google Slides than it is in Google Docs. Students can also use Google Drawing tools to create images that can be imported into the Slides.

Make Your Own Adventure Stories – Who doesn’t love Choose Your Own Adventure stories? Kids do! And what fun to create their own digital versions. Here’s a fun Dragon Quest story as an example. Google Slides is a popular way to create stories. It’s easy to add images and text. And simple to link from one slide to another to provide choices in the path through the story.

Calibre – This freemium software for Mac, Windows and Linux is a fabulous tool for organizing all your ebooks. It can also convert books from one format to another. This is handy for converting EPUB files to MOBI so you can read them via Kindle.

Comics – Great way to combine storyboarding, drawing and writing.

MORE RESOURCES

LEARNING ACTIVITY

  • Try out one of the ebook tools listed above or any other ebook tool that you are interested in.
  • In your blog post discuss what you tried and share your project if possible.
  • Also, discuss how you might you use ebook creation tools with your students? Or for your own teaching purposes.

*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT

  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.
*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.
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