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Magna Digital Library

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The digital revolution has given faculty far more tools for assessment than the traditional paper or worksheet. Now students can better exercise their creativity in presenting their learning through a combination of text, images, videos, and other media in a portfolio-like format. Book Creator, a web-based tool and iPad app for making interactive multimedia digital books in any subject area, is an excellent way to facilitate such assessments.

With Book  Creator, students and instructors are given a blank canvas onto which they can add multimedia elements by typing, dragging in, or drawing on a tablet. They can then resize or move content around with a stylus or mouse and then add new blank canvases, which open like pages as the user moves through the book. Book Creator comes with multiple backgrounds and colors and allows users to embed content or link to online resources. Once nice feature is AutoDraw, which senses what you are trying to draw freehand and suggests stock drawings of that object to use. In this way it allows anyone to create an e-book without any real design skills.

Once you create a book you can publish it online and share it with an audience via a URL. Anyone with the link can access your published book. Your audience does not need to have an account to read your book. Published books can be read on any internet-enabled device and on any browser. There is no limit to the number of pages your books can have. Books can also be integrated into an LMS, and they score high on the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template developed for Section 508 compliance.

Faculty can sign up for a free account, which provides both a private library and a student library. The private library allows the faculty member to make up to 40 books, while the student library gives the students a space to publish their own books, also with a 40 book limit for the class. If you want more libraries and more books, you can sign up for one of the paid plans. There is a separate paid plan for schools using iPads. For the purposes of this article, I will be discussing the web-based tool, which has a free plan.

Since a private library and a student library are included, students can create their own books. The instructor must first create a name for the library. The instructor then will get a class code or PIN that they will give to their students. Students will then create their own accounts by using their Gmail or Office 365 email credentials. Once students enter their credentials, they will be asked to put in their class code or PIN. If students do not have a Gmail or Office 365 account, they can log in with a QR code generated by Book Creator, which will allow them to scan the code with their phone. Once students enter their class code, they are linked to their class. Their work is automatically saved to the cloud, and the instructor has access to all the students’ books without the students having to share their books. Students can edit only their own books, though they can read their classmates’ books if the instructor allows it.

How can it be used in higher education?

The possibilities are vast for using Book Creator with your students. Faculty members can use it to create their own electronic textbooks and as a resource for flipping their classrooms. They can also use Book Creator to present their lecture content, and students can follow along on their devices as the lecture is occurring.

One of my colleagues had her students use Book Creator to create their own open educational resources for the course. Students chose a topic they were interested in. Then they had to research the topic; gather open-source materials, including articles, videos, charts, and graphs; evaluate the validity of the material; and then finally compile the material into a book. The professor then combined all the individual student books as a single book for use in other classes. In addition, Book Creator can be used for project-based assessments, digital portfolios, digital notes, and mind-mapping activities.

Instead of having my students write long reports, I have had them use Book Creator to provide their feedback and their understanding of different concepts. For instance, one student used it to describe statistical concepts, creating a book with an instructor graphic that walks the reader through the concepts using text, formulas, and graphs. Other students used it to report on a site visit to the Baltimore Lab School for the blind, where they described the various technologies used by the school with images and explanations. Finally, students used it to create personalized interactive study guides. Students would receive a list of topics that they needed to review. They would then create their own books to address those topics. Students would then share their study guides with their classmates.

There are many ways that faculty and students can use Book Creator for developing engaging content, whether for teaching or for learning, it offers faculty a way to provide students with educational content or learning assessments that can be used in any educational environment whether it is face to face, online or a hybrid model.In any class it provides an alternative means for students to demonstrate their learning.

Wendolyn Vélez-Torres, MEd, is the senior instructional technologist at Coppin State University.

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