Friday, May 01, 2015

Is Keynote the best app to create widgets for your iBooks?

The cool thing about eBooks created with iBooks Author is they can be interactive. However, most of the traditional publisher offerings are only slightly better than their print counterparts. By and large, they don't do a good job capitalizing on the features offered in this relatively new medium.  Most teacher created textbooks, by contrast, do a much better job using interactivity and are therefore much more compelling. 

This interactivity typically comes in the form of widgets. The widgets built into iBooks Author will only take you so far. Before long teachers are looking for ways to create their own widgets. I'm going to contend that Keynote is the best app you can get to create custom widgets for your iBooks. That said, I should also mention that I'm a big fan of Tumult Hype, but I believe Keynote is the best place for most teachers to start. There are lots of great general tutorials out there for learning the basics of Keynote, some created by me and some created by other very talented people. These will get you up and running in Keynote, but are not focused specifically on using Keynote with iBooks.

I've created a number of posts showing how to use Keynote to enhance your iBooks. So, in an effort to win you over to my way of thinking, here are a variety of ways you can use Keynote to enhance your students' learning.

Creating Interaction:
  • Interactive Maps - Create maps like the ones showed off in E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth books. The same technique could also be used in a variety of widgets where you want to highlight or contrast various parts of an image.
  • Math Practice Widget - Build something like Tara Maynard's ultra cool math practice widget. This is set up to allow students to get the level of help they need while working on problems. 
  • Interactive Videos - Have a dialog with your students through video, where your students' answers to questions lead to different responses from you. Get your students think, not just watching.
Creating other Cool Stuff:
Keynote is not nearly as powerful nor versatile as Hype, iAd Producer, or straight HTML and JavaScript. It is, however, much more accessible. In most cases if you have a Mac it's most likely already on your hard drive and you've probably already used it.