Thursday, April 23, 2015

CK12 to iBooks Author

Finding the perfect textbook for your class really is an impossible task. Each one you look at is missing some critical component or if one does have everything, it uses an approach that you think won't work with your students. Even if you somehow find the perfect book, it is typically the most expensive book you've looked at. In the end you end up selecting a book that is the best compromise of several competing factors. Not the best but instead, the least bad. The alternative is to not use a textbook or to create your own textbook.

With this in mind I encouraged the teachers of our freshman Integrated Science Class to create their own textbook for the first year of our 1:1 iPad deployment. This was a huge undertaking so I encouraged them to dive into ck-12 to assemble a series of books to use with their students. The books were saved as ePubs and distributed through iTunesU.

The ePubs, while very nice, have some limitations. The ck-12 materials often have videos and interactive elements scattered throughout. In order to use these, the students must leave their book and go onto the web. Not a big deal, but often once students leave their books many never make it back again. For next year we want to make the books more encapsulated, removing the need for students to leave the book to work with the interactive elements. Enter iBooks Author. The last update Apple gave iBooks Author the ability to import ePubs. Now we can take the work that was already done and repurpose it.

  1. Create flexbook on ck-12 and download as ePub (done already)
  2. Import into your iBooks Author template of choice. All of the content will come in as a single chapter. 
  3. Create a new chapter for each of the chapters in your original ePub
  4. From your chapter with everything copy all of the content for a chapter and paste it into the chapter you created for it. Keep going until you've done this with all the chapters.
  5. Work on Formatting: All of your images are "inline" you might want to use the Inspector to change them to Floating or Anchored so you can put them where you want them to be.
  6. More Formatting: Edit the text/paragraph styles used by ck-12 to be something you want (totally optional)
  7. Create Widgets for interactive content.
  8. Export as iBook and distribute or publish
Point 7, "Create Widgets" is the hard part. iBooks Author doesn't give you the ability to embed most web content directly. It does, however, give you the ability to add in HTML5 widgets. I typically build my HTML5 widgets in Tumult Hype. Totally awesome program. I haven't looked at the newest update yet but I will probably buy it. They do offer an educational discount, making it much more affordable. A less nerdy, as well as free, way would be to use Bookry to make your widgets. Once we get some of the books converted I'll post them here.

Below is my walkthrough of using Hype to embed a YouTube video in your iBook. You could use the same process for a lot of other web content as well.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Presentations for Mercy TechTalk

I'll be giving to presentations today at Mercy Tech Talk. Here are the links from my presentations:

3D Printing in Education - 11:10 in N-17
Curious about 3D printing? We will walk through the basics of 3D printing and introduce simple programs for creating 3D models suitable for printing. No previous 3D modeling experience is needed. We will also look at some ways 3D printing can be worked into the curriculum and for fundraising.

Flipping with an iPad - 1:00 in Drama Studio
Have you thought about making videos to support your instruction? Maybe even a full flip? With an iPad you can create and distribute videos for your students. We will investigate several apps and accessories you can use to make compelling content for your students without the need for a computer.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fun with Keynote for iPad

Our school is in the process of moving to 1:1 iPads. Part of my job is to provide professional development for our staff. I've decided to share some of the materials I'm putting together here. The references I make to individuals in this material are to members of our staff.

Sorry for the very heavy focus on Keynote in my blog lately. I'm sure I'll get bored and move on to something else soon.

There is a lot of power in Keynote to style, arrange, and edit items. You can use this power when making your presentations or you can co-opt this power for other creative endeavors. The videos below assume you already know some basics about Keynote for iPad. If not you should watch this video for a quick overview.

We first need to learn about the formatting options that are available. You can access the formatting options by selecting an object and then touching the paint brush.

Watch this video to learn about some of the formatting options:

Do the following after watching the video above:
  1. Create a new presentation
  2. Add a slide with pictures and text
  3. Use the formatting tools to change the styles of your objects.
  4. Add an interesting border to your pictures
  5. Change your font and text styles
Have you ever taken a picture to use in a presentation only to find out you need to bring it into an image editor to crop or resize it before you can use it? You can actually do this right in Keynote.

Watch this video about working with the Image Mask:

Do the following after watching the video above:
  1. Go back to the presentation you were just working on or create a new presentation
  2. Add a slide with a picture on it
  3. Tap the plus to put your own picture in.
  4. Double tap your picture to edit the image mask
The last skill we need is called Instant Alpha. This will work best if your picture has a uniform background. This can be used to create silly pictures, but is can also add a touch of awesomeness to your presentation without much extra effort. Thanks to Andy Losik for showing me this.

Do the following after watching the video above:

  1. Create a new presentation
  2. Add a blank slide
  3. Use your iPad to take a picture of yourself or someone else with a fairly neutral background
  4. You may find you need to edit the image mask to crop your picture first
  5. Now put your subject into someplace awesome

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interactive Maps with Keynote and Gimp

When people are learning to make iBooks with iBooks Author they often want to have cool widgets for their students to interact with. As I've shown in previous posts, you can create some pretty easily with Keynote. I really like showing teachers how to use Keynote to do this because if they use a Mac they already have it. When you couple this with a free image editor, Gimp, you can do some really cool stuff.

The example here is not one I've used to teach my students, but one I used at last year's iBookHack. From a teaching standpoint it might not be very good, I'm not really sure since I don't teach social studies. It's just an example of how you might create an interactive map to use with your students. The first video below walks you through using Gimp to create your maps. The second shows you how to use Keynote to bring them together as an interactive widget you can drop into an iBook.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Interactive Practice Widget Built in Keynote

I've been involved in iBooks Author teacher training with Anthony DiLaura for a few years now. You can find out about our hackathon coming up this summer at the ibookhack site.

While working on the iBookHack project I've gotten to meet some amazing educators. One of these is Tara Maynard. Tara saw a cool HTML5 math practice widget in an iBook and she wondered if it would be possible to put something like it in her own books. I showed her how she might reproduce the basic idea of the widget in Keynote and she went on to create this great template. She has shared it so you can use it as a starting point for your own practice widget. If you need a little help you can check out my video below.

The problem is shown, if there are accessibility concerns a button is included that will read the problem aloud to the student. Each problem can provide a hint to help aid students in independent practice and finally the solution is provided so students can get instant feedback to see if they were correct. Since it is made in Keynote the problem, hints, or solution can include pictures or videos as well. Overall it is a great interactive element to include in an iBook and doesn't take a lot of technical skills to implement.

The core idea of this widget centers on creating a "Links Only" presentation in Keynote. If you need a little more information on this you should check out another video I made, which is also included below.