If you are considering producing eBooks then now is the time! At Leeds University we have had positive feedback from students with access to eBooks to support their learning and teaching. To support them we have created and provided eBooks based on pre-existing materials across a range of academic disciplines and learning environments. These eBooks are not just an online version of a print text, but something that is born digital, something for which a print equivalent wouldn’t be possible.
Review of authoring tools
One of the first tasks in our project to create eBooks was to evaluate the range of authoring tools available, with a number of considerations in mind:
- We wanted to use tools that were accessible to anyone be they learning technologist, lecturer or student. We needed to consider tools that could be picked up and used in a short timescale.
- We needed tools that supported the inclusion of video, audio and quizzing options. Straightforward text converters were not an option.
- We needed to consider tools that would be available on a range of devices and operating systems.
Articulate Storyline has been used to produce seven eBooks and iBooks Author to create four eBooks. iBooks Author has also been used by students to create eBook resources for their assessments.
We found Storyline straightforward to use. A student using Storyline for the first time picked it up quickly to produce content. When you are familiar with it, and want to explore further options, it has the potential to create powerful and unique content.
iBooks Author is designed for anyone to be able to use. It has a range of templates and widgets that make it easy to use to begin with.
The support available for using Storyline from the community and blogs mean that any question you have about using it has probably been answered before.
There are a plethora of tutorials available on using all aspects of this tool.
One of the main reasons for choosing Articulate Storyline was its wide range of options for inclusion of multimedia. For example, for a medicine module the fact that feedback was available in the quizzes meant that Storyline was preferable to iBooks Author.
iBooks Author allows for embedding of videos, audio, quizzes, galleries, interactive images, glossaries and pop up text boxes. One of its key features is that it invites flexibility and innovation through the option to embed widgets. Bookry, which allows you to develop widgets for free is one recommended tool.
Articulate Storyline can publish to HTML5 so that outputs are available across all platforms and devices. The eBooks were created on a Windows PC. Articulate suggest that if you would like to run Storyline on a Mac that you run it on a Windows virtual environment on the Mac. The eBooks that we produced were hosted in Blackboard, the institutional VLE.
iBooks Author is proprietary software available from the Mac App store and produces content that can be read on the iBooks app on the iPad. We used iBooks Author for modules where students were using iPads.
The University already had licenses for Articulate Storyline so this meant that the price was not a concern. If you are considering using Storyline, it is available free for a 30 day trial.
iBooks Author is free proprietary software available from Apple.
We have been approached by many people who are interested in producing eBooks for their students but are putting it on hold waiting for the ‘right’ tool to come along. As with the application of any technology there is not necessarily the perfect tool but rather the best tool for the job at that moment in time. We have had positive feedback from students using eBooks and would recommend using them with your students.
Links and resources
Articulate Storyline http://www.articulate.com/products/storyline-overview.php
iBooks Author http://www.apple.com/uk/ibooks-author/
Project blog http://ebooksinlearning.wordpress.com/
Project twitter https://twitter.com/ebookslearning
Hayley Atkinson, eLearning Developer
Manchester Metropolitan University
If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.