Ebook Tools For The Classroom
Last year I wanted to create some ebooks with my class, to help them write for a purpose and share them with a wider audience. I've dabbled with ebooks in the past, but I've often been too ambitious and made them to complex and we've failed to finish them in time or I haven't shared them with a wider audience. So I've been looking at the following options for an easy to use ebook creator and have tested them with my previous class. There's a great number of ebook tools that are available, but if you look only at the child-friendly application the list soon narrows down. Here are the criteria I used to narrow my search.
My app selection criteria is are as follows apps have to be: Free or great value for money due. Not too resource and memory hungry. Easy login and teacher management User-friendly for children.
I could only justify buying an app that is used on a weekly basis throughout the school year or if it is an application which serves a variety of purposes, that's the only way that these software investments can be justified with increasingly tight budgets. Sometimes you can take advantages of free trials to meet this criterion and if the app then proves really useful, it may be worth investing in. They also needed to be PC based and run on our older school hardware or based in the browser that would work inside our firewall. We don't use Ipads, so I ruled out any apple apps straight away.
Book Creator has a good app for Android, Chrome Ipad and is also available in the Window's store. It is intuitive to use and the limited options helped children to focus on the task in hand rather than get carried away with formatting 'jazzy fonts' It has a sensible pricing structure that is free for a class to experiment with, but when it is used more widely across a school you have to buy a licence. I found that with year six children they just needed a quick explanation of the basics and they quickly picked it up. It only needed a couple of lessons to create a 2-3 double page Ebook. You can export the finished books into epub format so that the content can be read on other devices, however, any multimedia content may not necessarily open in a different application.
- Add video content
- Add or record sound
- Quick to format the page and manipulate content.
- No logins required
Story Jumper is a great app and I love the fact that it's completely free to use. It has a good idea for a business model that is friendly to education by charging for publishing or downloading the books. You are free to share the books online and share them on a class blog, which is a great way to offer value to schools. A few of the children my class, got a bit confused managing some of the pages in their books, although it is still is easy enough to format pages and add in images. You can directly embed Youtube videos into your books, however, as it's blocked at my school I made sure there were a few offline videos available for my class to use.
- Online only
- Good management system for creating logins, no need for children to have emails.
- Add pictures, text & audio.
- It is a bit lacking in advanced features
Overall Book Creator proved to be the best solution for my class. It is very engaging, easy to use, but has the flexibility to create a real multimedia ebook experience. Story Jumper is still a great option, especially if you want to focus on images and writing rather than a full multimedia experience ( sometimes not having the option to add in videos is a good thing.