Here is the video of a recent talk I gave on ebooks as instructional resources in early childhood and elementary classrooms.


 Session Resources

  1. Download When Ebooks Go to School (Epub format)
  2. When Ebooks Go to School Bibliography
  3. Read the rest of this entry…

I’m going to rush to get this post out ahead of the big Apple Education event on Thursday. All the hype is pointing to some sort of announcement of an easy way to create custom books for the iBook app. While this is certainly exciting news, I’m sure it is going to come with a bunch of “How to Use [Apple’s Newest Thing] in Education” tweets,  blog posts, lists and presentations. So ahead of all the hipster, fanboy, and hater posts that will inevitably follow Apple’s big announcement tomorrow, I’m bringing you this post. Option 1 from my Creating Custom Digital Content for iPad: Educators Have Options series!

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Creative Book Builder app for iPhone and iPad. Created by Tiger Ng, this app is currently selling for $3.99 in the iTunes Store.

Creative Book Builder enables everyone to create, edit and publish ebooks in minutes. Creative Book Builder can import document from Google Docs and parse HTML output into chapter. Create unlimited number of chapters add title, description, images, videos, audio recording, music, links, and lists. CBB lets you sort your content’s ordering within a chapter and customize your cover image.

What I did with CBB:

My plan is to base this project on a second grade Rocks & Fossils unit that my wife and a colleague originally developed in 2005. That unit contains a collection of resources ranging from a section of a science textbook, videos, digital photos and a couple PPT presentations. I have all the various source files stored on my Dropbox account and in my iTunes/iPhoto albums so I can access them as needed across devices. Read the rest of this entry…

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One of the things I’ve been looking into lately has been mobile content creation. With the rise of the tablet, I’m finding k12 and adult students are eager for opportunities to learn just-in-time with their device of choice. From an instructional design perspective, this means that to deliver to any & all devices, you’ve got to be looking towards HTML5.

My developer colleagues at the University of Akron’s Center for Literacy cringe every time we talk about HTML5 and designing apps for iOS and Android. To them, HTML5 is a giant step backwards in terms of the complexity and richness of web apps that could be developed with other tools (RIP Flash).

They feel that in the HTML5 arena, animations are stripped down and much less interactivity is available. They are mostly right here. HTML5 has limited the types of instructional interactions we can offer all ages of students in the online environment. As we begin to design web-based user experiences in HTML5, we are essentially creating a duel interface that can be run through a desktop or laptop browser AND a mobile browser. Until mobile devices have processors equal to their desktop/laptop brothers, we’ll never be able to offer as rich of a learning environment on any type of mobile device, yet we are still going to develop custom digital content for mobile…

So what can the average educator do? Read the rest of this entry…


So is Quality Rating Tool 2 any better? We will now hone in on our data to see if we have achieved better reliability with Tool 2. The following 4 charts show the inter-rater reliability on three subscales of version 2 of the e-Book Quality Rating Tool. Ten independent raters evaluated 5 books by assigning each book a score between 1 (strongly disagree) and 5 (strongly agree) on ease of use, multimedia and interaction features. Ratings were considered reliable if they fell within +1 point of the rating assigned by the Expert Rater, the project technology expert.

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Drawing on this professional knowledge base, we developed a matrix to guide the design of a prototype tool for evaluating the e dimension of the early childhood e-book. This matrix provided a framework for organizing the tool (categories & elements) and specified criteria for judging the electronic environment. We used the Quality Rating Tool 1 with a set of internal raters, consisting of 4 teachers, and also external raters, who were members of our research team.

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From the Blueprint Key, we moved to the development of 2 unique analytic tools. Analytic Tool I was adapted from the coding categories of de Jong and Bus (2003) and focused primarily on multimedia/ interactivity design features. This tool uses the entire e-book as the unit of analysis. It is organized into four categories—Book Assistants; Multimedia Illustrations; Multimedia Print; Interactivity—that reflect the major early literacy learning domains of Book Handling, Comprehension, Word Recognition and Cognitive Processing. The four categories include 14 elements that describe ebook design (e.g., presence of static and/or animated illustrations).

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In Phase 1, our research goal was to design an effective and usable tool for early childhood teachers to us in order to rate the quality of the e-Book for use in early literacy instruction. Our interest in developing an e-Book rating tool began in 2008 with our first attempt, the Blueprint Key, and has evolved over time by blending several different analytic tools to create the most recent version, the Quality Rating Tool. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of each component of the Quality Rating Tool.

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e-Books are becoming increasingly common in our society. Children and adults can read e-Books easily using devices such as the Kindle, Nook, iPods, iPads, iPhones, and computers. The speed at which e-Books are adapted into routine use could be accelerated even faster as communication technologies such as Wi-Fi and smartphones become more common in people’s daily lives.

So, then what does this mean in regards to e-Book reading from the perspective of e-Book pedagogy in early childhood classrooms? What do we know about the quality of current e-Books that many children are reading? During this presentation, we will briefly explain an e-Book instructional model in early literacy, and then we will focus on the issue of developing an e-Book quality-rating tool.

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TumbleBooks Library, a collection of e-books suitable for children in pre-kindergarten to grade twelve, has recently released a Facebook app. From @TumbleBooks:

As of February 25, 2011, you can access TumbleBooks via their classic browser-based model, by purchasing and downloading mobile apps and now through Facebook. A quick look at this free app reveals:

  • Access eText in the following formats: Audiobooks, EBooks, Read Alongs and TumbleBooks.
  • Sort by Title and Author.
  • Preloaded library of a variety of eBooks.
  • Ability to SHOP and add new titles to the MY SHELF section of the app.
  • Post reviews, comments and recommends to your Facebook wall.
  • Invite your Facebook friends to the app.

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