George Lucas Educational Foundation
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There are so many ways that iPads can be used in the classroom, and one of my favorite things about these tablets is the ability to use iBooks with students. Although there are tons of great options available in the iBookstore, there is a program for MacBooks that let users create their very own interactive books for iPads. This free program gives teachers the ability to create iBooks that can be shared with students by adding them to individual devices or published to the iBookstore to share with the world.

1. Short Learning Curve

In iBooks Author, even teachers just scratching the surface of this powerful tool can create an impressive product. This program includes a range of templates allowing users to drag and drop text, images and videos on the page. As your comfort level increases, you can record audio or add music, put review questions at the end of a section, and place Keynote presentations for students to access.

2. Customize Your Students' Textbooks

By creating a textbook in iBooks Author, teachers have the option to upload their own text and pictures. You can add your own captions to images and alter a text level to meet the needs of your students. Teachers can even record their own voices reading selections for students to play back. Kids can use the built-in text features, such as tapping on a word to see the definition, to make the iBook an interactive reading experience.

3. Create Collections of Student Work

When I was teaching fifth grade, we took our students' published personal narratives and social studies projects to create iBooks that showcased their work. It included their writing and pictures of each project. We recorded each student's voice reading from his or her own writing so that, with a tap of the screen, you could hear each child speak. Then we uploaded this book to the iBookstore so that our published student authors could share their work with friends and families -- and even add it to their portfolios to show off during middle school interviews.

4. Kids Can Contribute

Two years ago I created an iBook using iBooks Author for the first time. I was pretty excited to share this "first draft" with my students, and they were really pumped to try something new. After a few days, some of them started to point out things that were missing or could be added to our class textbook. I knew this was a great opportunity for students to locate primary source documents and create captions that could be added to the book. They even wrote review questions that I added to the end of each section. Not only were they excited to see their contributions in the updated version of the book, but they were also completely invested in creating a product that could be shared with their classmates.

5. It's Cool

There are lots of ways to engage students with iBooks Author, a fantastic tool to get children excited about reading. Try adding videos or a gallery of images, or take a Keynote presentation that you would normally show students and place it on a page. iBooks Author lets you create your very own interactive texts that are sure to grab the attention of your students.

Ownership, Permission and Workarounds

If you publish your creations to the iBookstore, be mindful of the need to get permission from families when sharing student work. Here is a great blog post on using Creative Commons in K-12 Education if you are including materials created by someone else. And if your students don't have iPads, iBooks can also be read on the new Mavericks operating system available for Mac computers.

Have you tried iBooks Author? Share your triumphs, struggles and experiences below!

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Comments (9) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Todd Finley's picture
Todd Finley
Blogger and Assistant Editor (Contractor)

Great article, Monica.

A group of teachers have enjoyed making interactive ebooks on learning strategies with iBook Author in here in Greenville, NC, as part of a Teacher Quality Partnership Grant. Adding widgets and videos to ebooks is really slick with the software.

Ed Garay's picture
Ed Garay
Assistant Director for Academic Computing, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago

Custom iBooks can indeed be very engaging and effective educational content. Unfortunately, iBooks only work on iPads and Macs thereby forcing students and schools to commit to Apple-only tablets and computers. I don't think we want Education to depend and rely exclusively on technology and computing devices made and sold by a single vendor.

Ted Curran's picture
Ted Curran
Instructional Designer, Samuel Merritt University

I agree with Ed. I think that iBooks author would be a great ebook authoring program if it would let content creators share their work in standard, interoperable formats like PDF or ePub.
As part of their Terms of Use, iBooks Author's "contract stipulates books created with the Author tool may only be sold in the iBooks 2 store, and nowhere else. "
As it stands, this is a closed source tool promoting Apple's closed content ecosystem and disempowering teachers and students from freely sharing their creations. Please promote tools that respect content creators' freedom to control how their work is shared!

See the link for a comparison of iBooks author against its competition.

Larry Reiff's picture
Larry Reiff
High School ELA Teacher from Roslyn, NY

Great article. I've been using iBooks Author since its launch. It really is a transformative tool. It allowed me to customize the way I deliver information to my students. I can embed study guides, videos, and other material directly not the book with widgets.

In the past year I've used IBA as an assessment tool. I have my students write their own versions of Spark Notes. They embed videos of themselves discussing the book along with maps, photo galleries and other material. It really is a remarkable tool

Peter Pappas's picture
Peter Pappas
Exploring frontiers of teaching, jazz, yoga, Macs, film

I'm pleased to see you promoting iBooks Author in the classroom. It's a great tool for students to share what they've learned to an authentic (and world-wide) audience. Here's a post your readers may enjoy. It details a student written iBook published by my students.
"Tips for Motivating Student Writers with iBooksAuthor" >> How to's and free sample iBook

Sérgio Lima's picture
Sérgio Lima
Physics teacher in High school degree

Hi Monica and all
ibook author imprison format and distribution ebooks in Apple ecossystem this is great if you live in XIX century:

In knowledge age, open content is the rule, not closed content, IMHO!

Norah's picture
Early childhood teacher, writer, life-long learner

This program certainly sounds exciting and I can understand why you and your students would enjoy using it and learning from it. I agree with some of the other comments though that it is better to not be restricted to one platform. I would like something to use on my PC.
Thanks for sharing your excitement. There needs to be more of it in schools.

iBAConference's picture

Great article, Monica. And since this article was written, only good things have happened to solidify iBooks Author as an essential content creation tool:

1) Version 2.2 provided the ability to import EPUB and IDML files.
2) Version 2.3 provided the ability for all iPhones (version 5 and above) to download and enjoy content created in iBooks Author.
3) Version 2.3 also provided the ability for iBooks Author to create EPUB files, unrestricted by a freshly-changed Terms of Use from Apple which allows these EPUB files to be distributed and even monetized in ecosystems outside of Apple's own.

If you have used iBooks Author to create awesome digital books or are considering it, check out the iBooks Author Conference ( in Nashville Oct 8-9 as well. Many tech-savvy educators who are embracing iBooks Author as an important emerging technology will be there.

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