Working in a one-to-one school district, where every student is provided with a device such as an iPad or Chromebook, can be a great opportunity of freedom for teachers and students. The device serves as an efficient tool to create and curate information, as well as, a flexible environment to share content. No longer does an individual need to negotiate with textbook publishers and be locked into the confines of the perception of the authors of a company when it comes to the content and methods that should be used to teach a specific skill or understanding. The digital world allows for educators to create e-books, or electronic versions of a book that may contain interactive elements, that can be produced, shared, and modified quickly and with little expense to a school district.
Why Google Slides?
The easiest and most effective tool I have found to create e-books is Google Slides. I have used various other tools; iBooks Author, Book Creator, Creative Book Builder, Pages, and Google Docs and, while I like all of them for various reasons, none serve my purposes as well as Google Slides. Google Slides allows me to:
- create a visual textbook verse text-based.
- embed YouTube Videos.
- insert links to interactive features such as whiteboard writings, games, and different areas of the book.
- collaborate by using the sharing and commenting for authors feature of Google Slides.
- create page templates with the ability to edit master slides.
- export as PDF, JPEG, PNG, or PPT.
- share as a web page that can be embedded in websites and learning management systems. This feature offers the bonus of pushing updates done on Google Slides to all locations of the e-book.
How to Use Google Slides as an E-Book Creator
Decide the layout of your e-book. Do you want students to read it in landscape or portrait? I prefer landscape as I like the room it gives me to insert text and visuals. If you feel similar, you do not need to alter the dimensions of your layout. However, if you like a more traditional book feel and want your book to be read in portrait mode, you will need to select File–>Page Set-Up–>Custom and enter 8.5 by 11 inches into the field. Every slide/page you create within this Google Slides document will now be 8.5 wide by 11 inches tall.
If you are like me, you will want to create some consistency with your layout. You may want a splashy image on top of your page that denotes the chapter and sub-heading. You may want a template page that allows you to insert text on the left-hand side and an image or video on the right-hand side. Rather than working within Google Slides and inserting textbooks and images for every slide, it is more efficient to alter the master slides for uniformity. To do this, select Slide–>Edit Master and edit templates as you see fit. You can also accomplish this by selecting View–>Master and click on the slide you want to edit.
Add your content. Keep in mind that you do not have to do this from scratch. For one, Google offers you the power to search, import and cite content from within the Slides editing document (See the video example). Use this feature to your benefit! In addition, there are many open-source textbook creation tools that you may curate materials. The following links I have found to be very useful:
- Open Ed
- Flat World Knowledge
- Open Textbook Library
- Openstax College (I have only heard about this and have not yet curated materials from the site.)
Share the e-book with your students and others. I suggest either publishing the book as a web page and using the link or embed code to place it on your website/LMS or exporting it as a PDF (The lowest common denominator for readability in digital form.) and sharing. Indeed, I used to be a big fan of iBooks Author (It can create some beautiful books!) until I came to the realization that I was locked into apple products by creating iBooks. To ensure that I can use my e-book in the future if my district ever decides to switch devices, I never begin a project in iBooks Author. The program does allow for PDF export, however, the widgets you add to the book do not work in this form (And, I have not had success with the new export to EPUB feature.). I would rather use linking in Google Slides knowing that I am sending my students to interactive activities in that form.
Take Your E-Book to the Next Level
The interactivity of the internet allows you to take your e-book to another level. For instance, you could combine services such as Book Widgets, Zaption, Nearpod, etc to make your e-book environment even more impressive. Recently, I have been testing the idea of embedding my Google Slide created e-book into Schoology discussions and assignments to offer another level of guidance and collaboration within my class (Perhaps I will have to write a post on this once I have implemented it into my classroom.). Imagine students reading their text and answering a summary question and then seeing the answers of their peers.
Question: Do you use e-books in your classroom? What have you found to be the most effective and efficient way to create them? How else have you used Google Slides besides creating slide decks for a lecture? As always, please share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.