July 29, 2014

#ETTSummit Live Blog: Wes Fryer, Creating Multimedia eBooks

Why eBooks?

Wes begins by challenging us to think about the benefits of having a longer narrative opportunity to tell our story. The gatekeepers of publication are now more on the sidelines and the opportunities for narrative have opened up. "Author" is a powerful identity marker. It used to be that students felt pride in having their names on a publication. With eBooks, we can give them a broader audience and an agency for showing what they know. With social media, it's a great opportunity to be an author and to have an opportunity to share writing.

BEWARE Over Sharing

One of the challenges for working with teachers and encouraging them to use lots of tools, is over-sharing. By providing too many options and too many tools at once, it became overwhelming rather than inspiring. Moving forward, Wes went with one app, one device, and one concept: ebooks with Book Creator. With only a 30 minute demo on one afternoon, the teacher had every student created an "Our Favorite Books" project. These were printed, shared online, presented in person, etc. The students were given a great opportunity to demonstrate and share what they know.

How was this project "good?"

Learning happens best when students make something in the physical world out of their heads. With eBooks, students are able to create something tangible. As an added benefit, with the technology, students are able to then share their creations to the entire world. To tie back into the message from the morning, Wes quotes @MisterSill that "with a smart phone/tablet and access to YouTube, we have unlimited access for video storage and distribution." With multiple avenues to success - writing, reading, and audio - everyone has the potential to achieve.

Apps & Software

Two of Wes' favorite tools are Book Creator & Creative Book Builder. While Book Creator is easier to get started with, Creative Book Builder is incredibly powerful. From a computer, it's possible to use Pages, iBooks Author, and Scrivener 2 to create eBooks. Finally, it's possible to use Calibre to convert files into eBook formats. Plus, it's free! A few other things to consider are access - what devices do you need to access the content - and updates - how often will you make changes and how will those changes get to your audience. For eBook reading, it's possible to use iBooks for Macs and iOS devices. Adobe now has it's own eBook reader called Adobe Digital Editions. Readium is a Chrome app that also reads eBook straight through the Chrome browser. Challenge for the summer: explore eBooks and start publishing!