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Tip of the Week – Wikipedia’s Create A Book feature


I know some of you are dragging your feet a bit.

Wikipedia? Can’t anyone just edit that and change stuff around?

Yes and no. And that’s actually a good thing.

If you truly are a hardcore Wikipedia hater, I can’t help you. Calmly move along. Nothing to see here. (Go here instead or maybe even here to learn what others are saying about using Wikipedia in Social Studies and general research. If after that, you want to come back and jump in, we’d love to have you.)

But if you believe that Wikpedia has value and can be used appropriately as a teaching and learning tool, then I just learned about a cool little tool that seems incredibly useful. And it’s probably been around awhile but I never noticed it.

Wikipedia can help you create books. Yes, books. And provide a clean PDF. And give you a clean, printable version of articles.

Exactly! Pretty cool, right?

Anyway . . . here’s what you do. Say you want to provide kids with anywhere / anytime access to information about the battles of the Civil War. (Because you don’t have enough textbooks, or the kids don’t take them home anyway or the textbooks just don’t provide the right information or provide it in way that makes it difficult for kids to use.)

Create a list of the battles you want kids to know more about. Head to Wikipedia and do a search for the first battle on your list, Fort Sumter. Once the page loads, look over on the left hand side and you see an option called Print/Export. Open that and you’ll see three options:

  • Create a book
  • Download as PDF
  • Printable version

The last two options are very useful – check those out later. Right now, click Create a Book.

You’ll be asked if you want to start Book Creator. Click the big green button. At the top of our Fort Sumter article, you’ll now see an option to Add this page to your book. That’s it. You’ve added the first chapter to your book.

Now in the top right hand corner, do a search for the next battle on your list. Using the search box and the Add this page to your book option on each page, you will add chapters to your Battles of the Civil War book.

When you’ve added all of your battles, Click the Show Book link. You now can name your book, reorder chapters and delete chapters.

Now you’re ready to download your book. You’ll see the Download option off to the right. There’s some stuff that happens for a few minutes. Eventually you’ll get the option to download the finished document in PDF format.

You now can edit the PDF, post that PDF online, send out as an attachment in emails or texts or print it out as a hard copy if you want. And depending on what app your students have (like iBooks or EverNote), they can access the book on their mobile devices.  (There’s even an option to have someone else print a handy, dandy hard copy version for you.)

But you should also think about making an ePub version of your book. It’s free over at ePubBud. This creates an eBook option available for kids to use in apps like iBooks. They can then takes notes, create bookmarks and highlight text.

Here’s what the finished product looks like: PDF version / ePub version

Need a refresher? Wikipedia has a nice online tutorial.

Have fun!

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