The Oxford English Dictionary defines an eBook as “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device.” Today in Digital Technologies we designed our own eBooks and examined how they could be useful in the classroom.
First of all, we were given a task in groups to create a brochure for UWS with prospective students in mind. We used the Book Creator app on an iPad. To make the University seem appealing to new applicants, we fully utilised the features of the app. It was very easy to customise the book by selecting appropriate colours and fonts for our purpose. It was also simple to insert videos and images taken or saved on the iPad. In less than half an hour we had managed to familiarise ourselves with the app and create an effective multimodal text which made use of a number of semiotic systems through the inclusion of text, sound and video. Another group took a look at our UWS brochure and said that it was engaging and attractive. This made clear to me how useful it could be in the classroom to be able to create a small eBook in such a short space of time.
With this experience of the book creator app, we were then tasked with creating either a summary of a well-known book or a small eBook to help someone engage with the book. I chose “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. As it is such a long book, I chose to create a short close reading exercise for Key Stage 2 which would encourage reflection on personal relationships. The eBook asks questions about where Matilda likes to spend time and how that relates to the way the people around her treat her. It then goes on to ask for a comparison of how Miss Honey treats her and how her parents treat her, which is an activity which links to LIT 2-14a: “I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate.” (Scottish Executive, 2004). The last page of the eBook asks for reflection on how different people in their life make them feel through their actions, and how they can affect the feelings of others with their own actions. This links a literacy lesson to Health and Wellbeing outcome HWB 2-05a (“I know that friendship, caring, sharing, fairness, equality and love are important in building positive relationships. As I develop and value relationships, I care and show respect for myself and others.” (Scottish Executive, 2004).). These exercises were not simply written down on paper. I believe that being able to use an iPad to flick through the exercise makes it more effective for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was multimodal as I used a number of Quentin Blake’s illustrations from relevant parts of the book to help prompt the answers to close reading questions that I both wrote in text on the page and inserted as voice clips. As we know, multimodal texts encourage accessibility in the classroom and are a useful way to close a gap in higher order thinking for individuals who may find it more difficult to follow along with reading text. Beauchamp (2012, p.88) further suggests that children who are reading from tablets in the house will be more inclined to use the same mobile devices in their learning than they may be, perhaps, to use physical books.
For myself as a prospective teacher, this was an interesting tool to learn to use. I did not realise how quickly an eBook could be created or that they could include video or voice clips – it was my own misconception that eBooks were simply novels in digital form. It is particularly relevant to me as a budding teacher in Scotland as our Digital Teaching and Learning Strategy specifically aims to develop the skills of our educators (Scottish Government, 2016). While I consider myself relatively competent and experienced with using computers the creation of eBooks for a purpose like this had never occurred to me as a way to embed technology in the classroom. An eBook like this can be created quickly, edited easily for different levels and distributed to students efficiently using Apple AirDrop – as long as iPads are available in the classroom. While this may seem like an unrealistic expectation in the classroom, tablets are getting cheaper all the time and there is motivation in particular by Education Scotland to ensure there are handheld devices available in school to enhance learning (BBC, 2012).
By the time I am a fully qualified teacher, if handheld devices are as widely available as this, I think that the ability to quickly create an eBook will be a useful skill to have.
BBC (2012). Education Scotland looks to expand use of tablets in schools. BBC News. [Online] 16 May. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-18081005 [Accessed: 9 February 2018].
Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.88.
Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.
Scottish Government (2016) Enhancing Teaching and Learning through the use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. [Online] Available: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/ [Accessed: 8 January 2017].