How to Create Interactive eBooks with iBooks Author

iBA interactiveI’m offering an iBooks Author training session for faculty at the University of Portland. In our first session, Ben Kahn of UP’s ATS shot some video which he edited into these two presentations.

For additional support on using iBooks Author see my free iBook Quick Start: iBooks Author free at iTunes. Check out my training website Get Started with iBA

Hat tip to Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services for making workshop arrangements and creating these videos

Part I: A quick tour of iBooks Author widgets and how they can be used in your iBook

Part II: A demo of how easy it is to input content into iBooks Author and how to use 2nd party widgets.

5 Ideas for Teaching in a Digital World

have the courage to be less helpful

Life’s become an “open-book” test. So what does that mean for schools?

Last week I gave the keynote at 5th Annual Ed Tech Summit on the beautiful Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland, Oregon. I offered 5 suggestions for teaching in the digital world.

My talk begins at the 7:45 mark after introductions. (Approximate timestamps) 

  • The analog classroom (10:30)
  • The digital world (13:40)
  • We need to teach a new digital literacy (15:35)
  • It’s not the screen, it’s the choice and creativity (20:00)
  • Learning is social (24:00)
  • Ask better questions (33:24)
  • Have the courage to be less helpful (47:30)

View my keynote on UStream

Teaching and Learning in a Digital World

Pappas keynote Ed Tech SummitI’m pleased to be the keynote speaker at the 5th annual Ed Tech Summit 2015 in Ashland Oregon (April 17, 2015). It’s co-sponsored by Southern Oregon University and the Southern Oregon Education Service District. It showcases innovations and best practices for integrating technology into schools and classrooms. Hands-on sessions are led by teacher experts in the field as well as technology hardware and software specialists.

Here’s the teasers for my keynote and two breakout sessions. Click here for more on my presentations.

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Tune into live screencasts of my keynote and two breakouts on Periscope. They are viewable in the Periscope app or your desktop browser. Follow me on Periscope app for auto notification in the app. Or follow me on Twitter @edteck and you’ll see a tweet as I begin each screencast.  (Copies of the screencasts are archived on the Periscope app for 24 hours following live post) 

Keynote: Teaching and Learning in a Digital World (8:30-9:15 AM Pacific)
Life’s become an “open-book” test. So what doess that mean for schools? Students are awash in a sea of text without context and they explore their digital world with an expectation of choice and control that challenges traditional notions of learning and literacy. This keynote will illustrate how to fuse digital technology and sound instructional practice to craft learning environments that motivate students with the opportunity to think like professionals while solving real-world needs.

Session 1: Leading for Connected Learning (12:45-1:45 PM Pacific)
This session is designed for administrators and other educators interested in the intersection of leadership, instruction and technology. Following up on the themes of my keynote, I’ll use a case study approach to demonstrate the essential elements of the connected classroom – one where students research, collaborate and share their thinking with an audience beyond their teacher.

The session will include key “look-fors” that leaders can to use to reflect on teaching, learning and technology in their schools.

Session 2: Teaching with Documents: Literacy, Tech and More (2:00-3:00 PM Pacific)
Who’s the historian in your classroom? This session will demonstrate techniques for blending historical thinking and literacy skills into an engaging student-centered classroom. Following up on the themes of my keynote, we’ll also explore some free (and easy) tech tools to help your students research, collaborate and share their thinking with an audience beyond their teacher. We’ll explore key components of document-based instruction.

  • How to choose the right documents.
  • How to guide students through a close reading of the documents.
  • How to frame the task around enduring questions, the kind that students might want to answer.

SOU Ed Tech Summit 2015

How to Tweet Live Video of Your Presentation with Meerkat

Meerkats-Auckland_ZooNo doubt you’ve heard of Meerkat and its coronation as the next big thing at the recent SXSW conference. If not, think of it as a mobile video streaming app that piggybacks on Twitter. Imagine a live video stream of Romney’s “47% moment,” and you’ll see why Meerkat has caused a stir. 

To quickly check it out, search #Meerkat on Twitter and you will be inundated with “LIVE NOW #meerkat” tweets – followed by a url. Click on the link and most likely you’ll find a screen that says “STREAM OVER. Tune in next time @so-and-so is live.” (Plus an invitation to download the app and follow the Tweeter). I’m guessing that most Meerkasts are people testing it out for a few seconds. But you might also get to watch a live screencast of a band rehearsal or a breaking news story. Time will tell if Meerkat is the next Instagram or Ello.

If you have downloaded the app its easy to sign up with your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to try your own test Meerkast. Most likely no one will tune in so you can check it out in private. If any viewers start watching you they will appear as Twitter icons at the top of the screen. You can decide if you’re having a bad hair day and it’s time to shutdown.

I recently “Meerkasted” (is that now a verb?) a talk I gave to a small gathering of colleagues at the University of Portland. The app was easy and effective enough to demonstrate to me that Meerkat could be useful for reaching an off-site audience at presentations and other events. Meerkat doesn’t provide an FAQ, so here’s what I’ve learned through experience or research. 

In advance:
Meerkat allows you either begin a live stream immediately, or “schedule” one for the future (no sooner than 5 mins). If you choose to schedule, then others who follow you on Meerkat or Twitter will see your promo tweet (with an image you can upload). They can choose to subscribe via the Meerkat app or simply check back on your Twitter stream at the appointed time.

It could be my bad luck, but I tried to “schedule” a Meerkat multiple times and was never able to get it to work. (If someone knows the trick to that or has any other Meerkat tips, please leave a comment below.) So instead of scheduling it, I just tweeted out an advance notice to tune in to the event with date and time. Then I started a live stream just before I began the talk.

Tech tips for set up:

  • At this point it’s iOS only, but Android is sure to follow.
  • Meerkat is a bit of a battery hog. I suggest having your iPhone on a charger.
  • You’ll need a mount to hold your iPhone. I use a Square Jellyfish “Spring Tripod Mount.” It clamps securely on my iPhone 5s and provides a junction to a standard tripod. It’s adjustable enough to accommodate the larger 6 series and most iPhone cases. With a mini tripod, you could set up your iPhone on your lectern.
  • Be sure to set your iPhone in portrait format. If you try to shoot in landscape, Meerkat will zoom in and convert the image to portrait anyway.
  • The front facing camera works fine and points the iPhone mic in your direction. If you set the camera fairly close to you, it allows you to check your position in the frame. 
  • Stick with a headshot. While you can view a Meerkast on any web-enabled device, it’s really designed for the intimacy of iPhone viewing. I had a Keynote presentation going in the background, but kept it out of the frame. (There’s too much contrast to try shoot video of a person in front of a presentation screen.)
  • If you have the iPhone set up within a few feet of you, its mic should work fine.
  • If you choose to use iPhone’s iSight camera remember that the built in mic will be facing away from you. You’ll be “off-mic” unless you add external microphone. You could use a small directional mic, but you’re making this all it too complicated. Meerkat is useful because its simple. You could use a headphone mic, but do you really want your live audience to think your listening to music? 
  • My experience and some contact with other users suggests that the sound / image sync is more stable when you use your cell network rather than wifi. In my tests, it was always flawless over cell, wifi got out of sync half the time. (Another reason I keep my grandfathered unlimited data plan with AT&T.)  
  • There’s 10 sec delay between you and your Meerkast, so I wouldn’t spend too much time focussed on your iPhone. 
  • Your Meerkast audience can tweet in comments which will appear on your Meerkat app. (That interaction works best when you are doing a intimate Meerkast over your latte). I found them too small to read during my presentation. If you want to follow Meerkast tweets while presenting, you could have another device with you at the podium dialed into Twitter. 
  • You could respond to tweets coming in and do the whole “backchannel” thing, but that can get complicated during a presentation. Unless you have someone else to follow and respond to your Meerkast tweets, keep it simple and focus on your live audience.

After the session:
Since Meerkat only streams in portrait, a YouTube broadcast of your Meerkast will look like it was shot by someone who doesn’t know enough to shoot their video in the desktop-friendly landscape mode. Nonetheless, Meerkat allows you to save your livesteam to your iPhone at the end of the session. You could then upload that to YouTube or use in another context. That save feature seems to work fine for shorter streams. I tried to save a 50 min session and it failed.

Another option for saving your livesteam is to add #katch hashtag in the title of your Meerkast. Katchkats will automatically create a YouTube video and post it back to Twitter with your Twitter handle. (If you forget, you can tweet a #katch hashtag via the Meerkat app anytime during your session and your Meerkast will be saved). #Katch places some limits on lengths of Meerkasts – it failed to save my 50 min session because of it’s length. Note: If you shoot a Meerkast in landscape and save via #katch it still ends up on YouTube in portrait.

Bottomline:
Meerkat is easy to use, but the product is ephemeral. If you really want to share a high quality record of your presentation, you should be using another platform like UStream.

When I Meerkasted my presentation, I stayed focussed on the audience in the room. Meerkat was set up, running and other than staying in the frame, I ignored it. Since I was unable to save the presentation, I have no permanent record of the event. But I had a tech in the room tuned into to my Meerkast checking in on his headphones. From what he told me, it went fine. I had a dozen Meerkast viewers who didn’t tweet much. But that was fine with me since it was a test run. I’m keynoting and running some workshops at Southern Oregon University Ed Tech Summit next month. Tune in on April 17th and see Meerkat in action. 

Image Credit Wikipedia / Vườn thú Auckland

The Marshall Plan: Altruism or Pragmatism?

Europe_Plan_Marshall._Poster_1947My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol II. It features ten engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of multi-touch iBook version click here.

To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. More in series here.

Essential Question: What does it mean to be the victor in war? Is there a responsibility to rebuild the enemy?

The Marshall Plan: Altruism or Pragmatism?
by Samuel Kimerling Download as PDF (11.7MB)

After WWII the United States gave more than $12.5 billion in aid to Europe. Was this all in the name of humanitarian aid? Or were there other economic and political goals behind the plan? This monumental effort raises some important questions regarding the nature of post-war policy.

  • What does it mean to be the victor in war?
  • Is there a responsibility to rebuild the enemy?
  • Does the price you pay for victory entitle you to spoils?
  • Did the Marshall Plan represent altruism on the part of the U.S. or pragmatism in gaining economic and strategic advantages?

We will examine original documents to answer these questions.

Reflection by Samuel Kimerling

After switching my topic from the more obscure food history topic to the much more document rich Marshall Plan, my issue was not where to find documents, but just the opposite. There were so many great documents, I found myself following lead after lead on possible directions to take the assignment.  While I learned a tremendous amount about the Marshall Plan, the state of Europe after WWII, and the different opinions throughout U.S. and Europe about the plan, I didn’t feel like I was getting any closer to completing the assignment. But I was finding photos, documents, and getting more information. Through this research I was able to narrow my focus and choose an angle on which to focus: the differing views on the Marshall Plan from Europe, Russia, and at home in the U.S.. My next challenge was to step away from the history and just look at the documents.  What was I trying to say? What were the documents telling me?  I finally focused on assembling documents that could tell a story.  Once I had a clear narrative of what I wanted the students to see, the guiding questions practically wrote themselves. This assignment has been exciting for me on two main levels.  First learning how to write this type of assignment for my students will be something I will continue to work on throughout my career. I am a big believer in having students think like historians.  The other facet is just how much I enjoyed researching the history surrounding the Marshall Plan. Reading all the documents and seeing all the photos was like a DBQ itself.  I will continue to practice, learn, and hopefully inspire my students to do the same.
~ Sam Kimerling Twitter/@kimerlin171 

Image credit: ”Europe Plan Marshall. Poster 1947″ by Reijn Dirksen, published Economic Cooperation Administration – Source. Licensed under Domini públic via Wikimedia Commons

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