by William Yang
Want to engage your students with literacy and content in a unique way? Conduct an interactive e-book study to support literacy and learning in your classroom!
Interactive e-books are a popular medium for reading and learning on mobile devices. Unlike a traditional book that contains only text and pictures, an interactive e-book can display multiple media such as video, 3-D objects, and animations that transform the experience of reading. Students interact with the text or media and often that interaction further informs the reader or is fundamental to the telling of the story.
Through this unique format, interactive e-books can be a wonderful learning tool. 3-D artifacts or interactive science models embedded within the page bring abstract concepts in social studies and science to life. Modifying content and text within e-book authoring programs can attend to diverse learning styles and help students with reading difficulties. E-books also provide students with the opportunity to learn some of the new skills and strategies with eReading as they access a variety of tools such as an online dictionary, social highlighting, and text-to-speech features to aid comprehension. Most e-books allow the reader to take notes or create their own study aids that make learning personalized.
There are many fiction and non-fiction e-books students can examine as they study this format. For young students, the Reading A-Z web site provides leveled e-books to show how media can simply be used to enhance the story. Others, such as “The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” app by William Joyce, model how reader interaction is integral to the story. There are also many nonfiction apps to examine through online encyclopedias or magazines on mobile devices. One great example for secondary students is “Snow Fall: The Avalanche on Tunnel Creek” by John Branch in the New York Times app. Examining the features of an interactive e-book and learning how different e-book authors use media to tell a story can guide students as they construct their own e-books.
There are several authoring programs available for students and teachers. One of the most accessible programs is iBooks Author, a free download for the MacOS platform. You can embed videos, 3-D objects, and slideshows within the e-book. Another free program available for all platforms is Moglue, which allows you to program objects and pictures to create interactive animations within the e-book. E-book authoring programs allow you to send e-books to an online location where your students can download on to their mobile device.
As they create e-books, it’s easy for students to get carried away with the novelty of embedding media in text. Students need reminding that the telling of a good story or the presentation of a compelling argument is ultimately what grabs the attention of an audience—not the “glitz” of an interactive e-book. By engaging students in researching the features of a great interactive e-book and authoring their own, they may craft new ways to tell a good story or inform an audience while learning along the way.
William Yang is an educational technology facilitator for the Scarsdale Public Schools in Scarsdale, New York.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).