Japantown History Awarded “Best Textbook” & “Best Widget”

Cover-Portlands Japantown RevealedI’m pleased to announce that my iBook Portland’s Japantown Revealed was just named “Best Textbook”  at the international iBooks Author Conference. “The iBAs“ are the only peer-nominated, peer-voted awards for best-in-class achievement with Apple’s iBooks Author. I was honored to be a finalist in six categories – #humblebrag.

More on the iBook | Download free at iTunes

The iBook is a collection of historic documents, photographs and video interviews with former Japantown residents that tell the story of Portland’s “Nihonmachi” (Japantown) – a once vibrant community that disappeared with the forced removal and incarceration of its citizens. It’s the fourth title in my Homefront USA series of iBooks. 

The “iBA’s Best Widget of the Year” award was given to my iBook’s “Portland Revealed” widgets that allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs. I created them by seeking out locations of historic photographs where the architecture had been preserved and re-photographing the contemporary setting. The resulting overlay lets the user “paint” the historic figures into modern settings – it’s demonstrated in this video.

My iBook has a companion iOS app - Japantown PDX / Free at iTunes 
Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. Watch historic Japantown street life reappear in “then and now” photographic dissolves. Share content with built in Facebook and Twitter buttons. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century – better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood.

Many thanks to Portland’s Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center and the Densho Digital Archive for project support and access to their archival collections. The iBook is an outgrowth of a project that teamed my University of Portland edMethods students with the Nikkei Legacy Center.

The World Is My Audience: Using iBooks Author and Book Creator to Change Student Writing

The World is my AudienceBackstory: I’ve long been impressed with Jon Smith’s exploration of student publishing. Recently I saw his post at the Ohio Resource Center and asked Jon if he would cross post on my blog. This is his second post on Copy/Paste. Here’s his first guest post which features a video reflection by his students. 

Jon Smith is a technology integration specialist for Alliance City Schools. He was a special education teacher for 12 years and continues to have a desire to allow special education students to create wonderful content to enhance their learning. Jon’s daily duties include teaching students about technology tools, helping them with projects, and giving professional development to teachers and district staff. He is also an instructor for the Communicate Institute. Jon teaches a graduate-level course to teachers on engaging the twenty-first-century learner with technology. You can contact Jon at his website. His student iBooks are available here ~ Peter Pappas

The Beginnings

I was teaching special education students in grades 5 and 6 in an inner-city school in Canton. Time was going by, and students continued to struggle with writing. I was determined to make a difference and change these students for the better. They were going to become great writers if it killed me. While my goals were commendable, they weren’t being achieved to the degree I wanted. Then, two years ago, Apple introduced a software product called iBooks Author, and things would change for me forever.

For the first time, people were given the opportunity to self-publish in an easy manner. I saw this software as an opportunity for students to have a global audience for their writing. Blogs and other means of attracting a global audience have been around for a while, but this was something truly different, and I ran with it. Students were excited to be writing for someone other than their teacher. Engagement increased. Time on task increased, and the energy in the classroom changed to something you can normally only dream of.

Within three months we had written and published three iBooks in Apple’s iBookstore. We were graphing the downloads in the hall on chart paper, estimating how many downloads we would have by the end of the year, and planning our next books. Comments from all over the globe came pouring in, and it meant a great deal to the students. For the first time in their lives, they had a real, authentic audience for their work.

I soon changed jobs and moved to Alliance City Schools. The iBook ideas continued, and my Alliance students soon published two iBooks using iBooks Author. Again, things were going smoothly until one day when I met Pam, a speech and language pathologist for one of the elementary schools in Alliance. This begins the journey of my use with the Book Creator app.

Working with Autistic Students

Pam was referred to me by our district network manager. She was in need of instruction on using iMovie on her iPad. I knew I could help her, and so we met to discuss using the iMovie app. She explained to me that she had a group of fourth grade autistic boys who needed some serious motivation and help. They weren’t interested in doing any kind of work at all, and she thought iMovie would help. I asked her what they were struggling with, and she mentioned social skills. Immediately my mind went from iMovie mode into something else, something more powerful.

I explained to Pam that I had another idea. It was an app I recently learned about. I was looking for a group of guinea pigs, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to try Book Creator out with a group of students. Pam explained to me that this was a tough group of kids. She eyed me cautiously when I explained that we were going to write a book using the Book Creator app. And she looked at me like I was on drugs when I told her that we weren’t only going to write a book but that we were also going to publish this book for the entire world to download.

listen-to-the-driverI began meeting with her and her students once a week. I explained to the students that they would soon be globally published authors. They were so excited about their book, it was contagious. We began using the Book Creator app to make videos of inappropriate social skills interactions (this wasn’t difficult because this is what they did on a daily basis). We also made videos of appropriate interactions (great learning opportunity for the kids). Students started using Pam’s iPad to write down information and create their stories and author bios. The students also realized they could record their voices using the app, and they did. They believed this would help them be better readers. Adding their own pictures was icing on the cake. After a month of work, the book was ready, and we published it in the iBookstore. The downloads started flying in, and this is where the real transformation occurred.

The students in Pam’s group were thrilled about the downloads. They put a map in the hall and began to chart which countries had downloaded their book. This seems like such a small thing, but to these students it was spectacular. These students who were afraid of talking to others, had few friends, and were thought of as outcasts soon became the stars of the school. The students were talking to kids in the hall, explaining why there was a red pin in Japan and Norway and Canada. One student’s parent, who never came to any IEP meetings, showed up for the first time. She was so excited to see what her son had done, that she came to the first meeting at the school in four years. The students couldn’t stop writing and wanted to make more and more books. They had so much fun and learned so much while using this app, that they have started a series of social skills books. As of today, they have written and published three iBooks in the social skills series.

Projects

I plan on using the Book Creator app with more and more schools as the year goes on. I have teamed with other teachers in the district, and we have written and published iBooks using the Book Creator app with kindergarten students, first graders, and of course our fourth and fifth graders. The ideas are endless, and the Book Creator app is the simplest and most robust app for writing books hands down. I would also like to expand the use of the app to the high school, where I spend most of my days. We have a one-to-one iPad program with the freshman class, and this app is ideal for having kids demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of subjects. I would also like to see students become their own self-publishers by using the app.Song about Mississippi

What I’ve Learned

Throughout the process of writing and publishing books, I’ve learned a few things. I would like to share those with you now, because this is such a powerful app and because publishing student work is such a powerful idea that I want every teacher and student to have this opportunity.

  1. Apple is picky. But using the Book Creator app is so easy, it’s nearly impossible not to pass Apple’s strict publishing standards.
  2. Writing and publishing books has enormous potential to change the lives of students and the way they interact with the world around them.
  3. Marketing your book makes a huge difference. I am very active on Twitter, and if it weren’t for all my followers, retweets, and mentions, we would not have had the successes we did. Twitter is a great place for free publicity.
  4. I’ve learned that people like to read what students create. We have had nearly 32,000 downloads of our class-written iBooks. This number keeps climbing daily, and it is very exciting to watch.
  5. I’ve also learned that writing and publishing books with your students is addicting. Currently we have 44 iBooks available in the iBookstore, and this number will continue to grow.

I would like to close this article with a few thoughts and a quote. I think students need to contribute more in the classroom. They need to be creating content as part of the learning experience. They need to show us what they know, and they need to be able to explain it. Using Book Creator has the potential to transform learning for you and your students. Students and teachers need to share what they do. This really makes a difference in the authenticity of the learning. I truly believe that students want to share what they do, and when they have a bigger audience, the work gets better.

When students create for the world they make it good. When students create only for their teachers, they make it good enough. —Rushton Hurley

Images supplied by Jon Smith

How to Add Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Images to iBooks Author

iBA SVG enlargedHere’s another great iBooks Author (iBA) “how to” – cross posted from Dr. Frank Lowney (Projects Coordinator, Digital Innovation Group @ Georgia College). See Frank’s original post a watch his demo video here. Frank writes:

The primary advantage of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files is that a very small file can be scaled up to yield large images without the aliasing (jaggies) that appears when a bitmapped graphic is scaled up. SVG files are resolution independent, usually non-photographic and carry the suffix *.svg. There are lots of free SVG files available on the Internet and there are many applications for creating SVG files such as the free, open source Inkscape. For an excellent primer on vector graphics, see this Wikipedia article.

However, it is not possible to use SVG images directly in iBooks Author. If you attempt to drag and drop an SVG file onto an iBooks Author project, nothing will happen. You’ll get no error messages or feedback of any kind. Similarly, apps in the iWork suite (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) will also refuse to accept SVG files. Since it is important to keep the size of iBooks Author output low for easy downloading and to avoid the 2 GB limit in the iBookstore, we need to pursue this further.

The iBooks Author application has its own Text, Shapes and Graphs menus with which a number of vector graphics can be created. Another option is to use the vector graphics created by Keynote, Numbers and Pages. These can be copied and pasted directly into an iBooks Author project. Graphics created in iBooks Author or any of the iWorks suite applications are vector graphics in PDF containers, not SVG files. PDF files can contain text, bit-mapped graphics and vector graphics. [The $99 OmniGraffle application is a considerably more sophisticated graphics toolset and is capable of exporting both SVG vector drawings and PDF vector images. The latter are compatible with iWork suite and iBooks Author.]

That’s useful but there is an Internet full of already drawn SVG images that are in the public domain or CC licensed. It would be a shame not to have access to that vast library of free vector images. The trick is to use this free on-line conversion service to convert SVG to PDF and then drag and drop that PDF directly into an iBooks Author project or into one of the iWork apps or OmniGraffle for further manipulation.

Download an *.ibooks file here that shows how vector graphics created in iBooks Author compare with vector graphics converted from SVG files.

Vector image creation - Cheat Sheet
Vector Image Creation and Editing – Cheat Sheet was created by First Site Guide Team>.

How to Use iAD to Create an External Video Widget for iBA

iAd

The three iBooks in my WWII Homefront USA series started with an idea for single iBook. Then as I began to uncover so many long-forgotten videos,  I realized there was a trade off between creating a media-rich iBook and keeping the file size manageable.  I considered keeping file size smaller by simply linking to the videos from the iBook. (I would provide a hyperlink in the iBook and the reader would tap on it to be led to the video on YouTube or Archive.org.) But that required that the reader be on a network to view the iBook’s videos. And I didn’t think that a hyperlink was a very visually appealing approach.

Use iAd Producer to create a high quality HTML widget for iBooks Author without writing a single line of code.

So my single iBook project idea turned into three iBooks with file sizes running roughly 600MB each. I carefully edited the videos and used file compression – but the 13-18 videos in each iBook demanded a lot of file space.

I was pleased to hear that my go-to guy for iBooks Author –
Dr. Frank Lowney (Projects Coordinator, Digital Innovation Group @ Georgia College) had posted a video how-to for using iAd Producer to create external video widgets of iBooks Author projects. No coding required!

He agreed to let me cross post his work here with a slightly edited version of his original screencast. 

Frank posts – The iAd Producer application from Apple has grown considerably since its inception. Originally, it was a highly specialized application that created advertisements for mobile devices from Apple. Those iAds were composed of sophisticated HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Since that inception, it has been expanded to create iTunes LPs for music albums sold in the iTunes Store and iTunes Extras for video sold in the iTunes Store. These, too, rely upon HTML, CSS and Javascript web technologies. Most recently, iAd producer has added iBooks Author HTML widgets to its repertoire. Thus, the following screencast tutorial showing how easy it is to use iAd Producer to create a high quality HTML widget for iBooks Author without writing a single line of code.

This example focuses on creating an HTML widget that plays a video hosted on an external server. This keeps the size of your *.ibooks file down making for quicker downloads and avoiding becoming a burden to iPads already nearly filled to capacity with other books and media.

You can see Frank original video here - it includes comparison of various video strategies for iBooks Author. Download the example book to an iPad to get an even better view of how this looks and feels in the hands of your audience.

Download iAd Producer (free developer registration required)

I highly recommend  Frank’s iBook The Coming ePublishing Revolution in Higher Education
on iTunes. It’s an insightful guide to etextbook revolution – winners, losers, and the factors that will determine the outcome. (67 pages, 20 graphics, 28 media files, 25 video files and 5 interactive widgets.) A bargain at only $0.99!

How To Fake a Hyperlink Text Pop-Over in iBooks Author

text-pop-over

recruiting rosie cover

I just published my latest iBook Recruiting Rosie: The Sales Pitch That Won a War. iTunes. It’s a multi-touch book that showcases how the American government created a massive media blitz to convince women to take up WWII production and service jobs. One point that I wanted to stress was that while there was great diversity in the women who did war work, the media campaign almost exclusively featured white women. Minority and lower-income women needed little encouragement to move to higher paying war jobs. In contrast, married middle class women who had traditionally avoided work outside the household needed to be coaxed into the workplace. They were the target of a sales pitch filled with themes of patriotism, sacrifice and duty that depicted war work and military service as fashionable and glamorous.

To illustrate this point I selected two photographs from Alfred Palmer’s famous series of color photographs depicting women war workers done for the US Office of War Information.
I offered the reader the chance to guess which became a promotional poster and a Pop-Over was perfect for that interaction. The Pop-Over widget is new in iBA 2 and provides a custom image that acts as a trigger to display a scrolling region similar to the Scrolling Sidebar. The Pop-Over may also contain text and graphics.

While I could have used an image to trigger the pop-over, I preferred a more minimal text anchor. Since you can’t anchor a Pop-Over to text, I made some text look like a hyperlink and then made the Pop-Over placeholder invisible and positioned it over the text. (You can download a free preview of the book to see this the results.)

Here’s how I did it.

1. Layout the page with all images and text. This image below shows a section of the page at that starting point.

Pop-over start

2. Select the text, open my Styles Drawer and use “Hyperlink” character style to make the selected text look like a hyperlink. 

hyperlink style

3. Now I have the same page with what appears to be a hyperlink.

text as hyperlink

3. Use the Widget builder to select the Pop-Over widget. While I could include text in the Pop-Over, I delete the text and drag my poster image in. Next I use the corner handles on both the image and Pop-Over to enlarge both to a corresponding size that I want for final display in the iBook. (the image below show it before I finished adjusting the sizes of the poster and Pop-Over).

pop-over-with image

4. Click on the image placeholder to make it active and open the Inspector. Go to the Metrics Inspector and deselect “Constrain Proportions.” That way I can make the anchor the size and shape I want to fit exactly over my text. (the image show it before deselection)

object constrain proportions

5. Go to the Wrap Inspector and de-select “Object causes image to wrap”  - that keeps the object from pushing text aside. That way I can place it over my text. (the image show it before deselection)

object wrap selector

6. Use the Graphic Inspector to change the opacity of the object to zero – that makes it invisible. (that’s the slider at the bottom of the selector) 

set opacity

7. Drag the invisible Pop-Over to cover over my anchor text. I resize it as needed. It doesn’t have to be exact. But when the user taps on the “hyperlink” text I want to be sure they are actually activating the invisible Pop-Over trigger.

arrange invisible pop-over

8. Last step is to preview the iBooks Author project on my iPad and make sure it works.

Posts navigation

1 2 3 4