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Saturday, January 14 • 10:15am - 10:35am
"Producing a Multi-touch Book and Providing Experiential Learning Opportunities for Students"

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Digital textbooks are becoming increasingly popular among K-12 and higher education markets, and one powerful aspect of these digital texts is how easily they can be created. Apple’s multi-touch books are the pre-eminent technology when it comes to the integration of media and interactive elements. Using the freely available iBooks Author, an instructor can work with students to create a textbook that provides a wealth of knowledge on almost any topic.  In addition to researching and writing, students are exposed to higher order digital literacy skills such as digital photography and video production. Much of this can be done within the classroom, although opportunities for field-based development should be explored.

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and spent 5 days in Miami working with educators from around the world on a variety of topics. At the end of the institute, we all were tasked with doing a project that would blend technology and education. I decided to be ambitious and developed an idea that would fuse the state parks of Georgia with a variety of history and science content standards required for our K-12 students. The result is a partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and I am in the process of visiting the parks and writing the multi-touch book. This is a significant undertaking that will span several years, but the resulting textbook should be useful to thousands of students and teachers across the state.

Throughout the process, I have involved many of my graduate students in the production of the book. They have traveled with me to the parks, documented the unique characteristics of each location, interviewed park personnel, conducted research on historical and scientific topics related to the park, and co-authored several chapters with me. This experiential learning has been very well-received among all of the students, with many of them stating that it was one of their favorite memories of graduate school.

It is clear that digital textbooks bring many advantages to the classroom. While some digital texts are simply PDF files designed to be read on a tablet or computer, there are more advanced books that not only contain text, but images, sound, video, interactive modules, and review questions. These books, such as the multi-touch format available for Apple’s iPad, take advantage of new technologies that allow students to interact and explore content in a way that traditional books simply cannot match. The digital natives that are populating our classrooms appreciate these new tools, including “the rich multimedia resources” (Liu, 2011). Perhaps an even greater benefit is the ease of which they can be created and utilized within a classroom. Considering the current push towards open resources and reduced student costs, faculty are being asked to find materials online or develop their own. This opens the door for collaboration with students across all grade levels and disciplines. Allowing students to author a digital textbook will help to create an environment where they feel empowered and are doing more than simply satisfying requirements for an assignment. Liu (2011) reports similar findings, noting that students had a feeling of control over their learning. Ruth (2013) notes that learners using digital textbooks have a more intimate experience with their materials, including the ability to alter the content.

The projected completion date for Georgia State Parks: A Guide for Educators is January of 2017. It will be published in Apple’s iBook Store as well as on Amazon, and will be made freely available for educators, students, and the general public.


Liu, H. (2011). What do the college millennial learners say about an open source digital textbook for a teacher education course? Journal of Technology Integration in the Classroom. 3(1), 17-21.

Ruth, K. (2013). Texts that change schools. Independent School. 72(4), 50-55.

avatar for Cassandra Kelley

Cassandra Kelley

Faculty, CalStateTEACH Teacher Preparation Program & National University
Educational Technology; Teacher Preparation; Professional Development Cassandra has 7 years of classroom teaching experience. She was also the School Technology Coordinator for six years, facilitating professional development in technology implementation and additionally taught "Intro... Read More →

avatar for Chris Greer

Chris Greer

Associate Professor, Georgia College and State University
I love to explore how to integrate more multimedia into the K-12 classroom.

Saturday January 14, 2017 10:15am - 10:35am PST