This piece for #ASEslowchat looks at a unique way to share the new science content with our pupils. When I started working in my current role, the school was newly set up and was only made up of year seven and eight pupils. Having been given the responsibility of the departments purse strings, I was keen to find a more financially sound and long term alternative to purchasing text books.
New pupils to the school are given an iPad on loan for the duration of their time with us and this is the hardware I thought might help be towards a solution.
Considering a few options, I settled on the notion of writing a textbook for my pupils electronically and ‘pushing’ it out to their own iPads to be used in class and at home.
Some benefits of using the iPad and related software to disseminate text book material:
- Interactivity: When creating content, you are able to include interactive links and functionality. This could be in the form of picture galleries, interactive maps, videos or links to external sources.
- iPad accessibility: iPads come as standard with a wide range of accessibility options that prove useful to pupils with specific educational needs, examples included in the slideshow below.
- A space saver: Not only in terms of the classroom but also the pupils, gone are the days of pupils carrying their own bodyweight in books or cramming lockers to the brim!
- Up-to-date: If (when) specs change, now there is no need to buy new books, simply update your electronic file and push out the new content instantly to your devices.
- Widgets: The ability to add functionality to your interactive books such as quizzes, assessment points or 3D interactive models adds to the power of the resource.
- Literacy: The functionality to allow pupils or authors to create their own glossaries of key terms from the books was welcome.
- Cost: Provided your pupils have access to a tablet or similar device, the cost of producing a book, is often less than the upfront price for a class or year set of books.
So this is the goal
So how do you make an interactive textbook for free using iBooks Author software? A good starter video to get you started.
Where can I get the iBooks Author software? Here!
How well did it work for my pupils
With any intervention in education, whether it be for the betterment of pupils, staff, parents or any other stakeholder, I think it is important to critique any system we use. The goal in my eyes is to move away from anecdotal, warm fuzzy feeling feedback on why you think a particular strategy works. Instead we should consider it objectively, look at the data to see if it shows whether a strategy is working (keep it) or not (sweep it).
The above was the area of focus of my Masters dissertation (happy to share if anyone wants some background research/links on the topic of interactive ebooks in education), below is the abstract that summarises what was found;
Interactive textbooks are becoming more popular in all levels of education with the rise of personal tablet computers personally owned by pupils or purchased by educational establishments. This action research aimed to see if a well designed interactive textbook would have a positive influence on attitudes towards science engagement and assessment outcomes in a small class of year nine pupils in a newly opened secondary school in the north of England. An interactive eBook was authored and shared to pupils via their iPads prior to the teaching of a physics module over one learning cycle. Pupils completed a student engagement instrument pre and post intervention and their assessment outcomes over three science papers, modelled on the new GCSE specification. There were significant positive effects with pupils attitudes towards elements of cognitive engagement. Pupils did also score higher in the physics assessments although the differences were not significant. Results showed that use of the interactive eBook was not a detriment to pupils and may have positively impacted on the scientific engagement over the course of the intervention.