Digital Sandbox

This Blog is designed to provide the reader with information on how to adopt technology into the classroom by relooking at traditional classroom tools and transitioning into new ways of teaching and learning. The Digital Sandbox explores the future of learning through the recreation of 21st Century learning environments.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How to Create an eBook


Over the past two months (July - September of 2011) I have been working diligently to find ways to publish e-Books for iPads. I had had two reasons in mind. The first was to support language developing students who attend my school. As a principal, over 75% of the students who attend the school where I work are Hispanic. I wanted to find a way to support language development through technology and have been inspired by the capabilities of mobile devices. What I needed was a way to help ELL (English Language Learner) students hear text while it was being read. This gave me an idea of exploring the possibilities for developing media rich interactive books. e-Books that talk and could be easily constructed by teachers. I was also after simplicity. The second reason for exploring the idea of eBooks for mobile devices was given to me as an intrinsic challenge to share.

I was attending a technology conference in July of 2011 when a colleague of mine, asked me to join him in a conversation about a new universal publishing format called e-Pub. During the conversation I explored many question as to the enquiry of what e-Pub was? Was it a program, or a format? The conversation lead to the idea that the ePub format may be useful for teachers when introducing content into a mobile learning environment. The objective was then established, the process for creating the eBooks must be simple, cost effective, should include embedded media and it would be easy to learn.

Returning home from the conference, I began to do extensive research on the e-Pub idea. Goggled, tweeted, e-mailed, called an apple representative,  inquired about it at the district level and monitored my hash tags on TweetDeck for incoming dialogs. I even began posting articles on my blog, waiting for comments, which got me nowhere. Then one day it happened, It was the one tweet I was looking for, information on a new iApp being released in beta form that could create an interactive flip book, one with embedded media. Up to that time I had just hit dead ends, for most of the software applications were too complicated, too rich for my pocket book or just too plain of an end product.

I quickly scanned the product features on  the iApp, entered my pass code and agreed to the purchase of $3.99. Within two minutes I was off to explore and test every feasible element of Creative Book Builder.    After a few weeks of trial and error, especially with ways to use iTunes to embed media I have been successful in rolling out "publishing" several eBooks. Each eBook was a little better than the other since I am working on the publishing design side. Yes, that is correct, I became a publisher.

In my first eBook "The Art and Science of Teaching" I included two demonstration videos and some hyperlinks. The second eBook "The ePub Generation; The Alexandrian Libraries of the Future" included audio recordings, podcast and video. My third eBook I explored the idea of digital storytelling as a form of a podcast, a read along e book for children entitled, "The Princess and the Crystal Mountain." In the read along book, I created narrated sound bites in audacity, transferred them into iTunes and exported the narrations within the text of the book. Spacing the text within the sound bite narrations takes some planning, as to the architecture of the layout.

Just over the last two days I have published one book on LuLu which is free and have uploaded all three of them to my wiki page, Tech N TuIt. What I have discovered, the more media you embed, the larger the size of e-pub file, something I will be working on, as I further research ideas on compressing files. If you are interested in exploring any of these titles you can select any of the following resource links. Here are some tips or what I call "Tricks or Tweaking" in Creative Book Builder. (Download a Free Sample eBook on "How to Create an eBook")

When Using Media
·         Use YouTube downloader
·         Convert to medium low quality iPhone format
·         Compress mp3 files to medium quality
·         To create illustrations use PowerPoint and convert to gif file

What I Have Learned
·         Use hyperlinks before using sound or video files
·         Make books small for short reads and lesson assignments
·         Plan your content in advance And in small chunks
·         Preview your book often in the production stages
·         Email gif files and use save to photo feature in your iPad
·         You can use the edit feature to create a PowerPoint slide show on your iPad

References
·         The Digitalsandbox Blogspot
·         My Free e-Books at Tech N Tuit
·         The ePub Generation

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