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Posts tagged ‘anywhere anytime learning’

ePUBs, dotEPUB and mobile learning

I am in love with iBooks. iBooks is Apple’s version of the Kindle or Nook. With the app, you can download books and mags allowing quick and easy access, anywhere / anytime.

And, yes, several weeks ago I wrote some disparaging remarks about digital media. I was in newspaper withdrawal and without a sports section, bitter and forced online for crosswords. A great print paper such as the New York Times or Washington Post still gets the nod over digital but I’m coming around on the book idea.

But it’s not published books that make iBooks such a great little app. What makes it great is that it allows teachers to begin creating their own teaching materials and getting them in the hands of their students in ways not available even a year ago.

Textbook publishers and school material companies have long controlled what we share with our kids. With iBooks, you can develop your own textbooks and materials, publish them in PDF or ePUB format, kids download the file onto their iBook app and, volia, anywhere/anytime learning. What I like about ePUB docs over PDFs is that you can highlight, type notes and leave bookmarks in an ePUB, making it better for studying and review.

Both Microsoft’s Word and Apple’s Pages now allow you to save documents in PDF and ePUB formats. Wikipedia has a cool Create a Book feature and there are awesome iDevice apps such as Book Creator that allow you and your kids to begin to develop your own mobile learning materials.

(Getting the files to your kids can happen in a couple of ways – upload the files to a website that kids access on their mobile devices. This could Facebook, Edmodo, a blog page or a site provided by your school. You can also simply email, text, or Skype the files to your kids.)

And I just ran across another cool way to create iBook viewable ePUB documents.


dotEPUB is a simple bookmarklet that pulls content from webpages and gives you a downloadable epub file. So now you can begin to incorporate online content into your growing library of personalized teaching content.

Head over to dotEPUBT to get the handy bookmarklet. To install, all you need to do is drag the logo to your bookmarks toolbar:

convert webpages to ebook

This handy tutorial should help:

There’s something called Immersive Mode that you can turn on or off before installing the bookmarklet. Immersive Mode is the default, and removes all links and images from an article being converted, so you can focus on the text and nothing else. I left my turned off, giving me the choice to include images if I wanted.

(Sorry Internet Explorer users, dotEPUB does not work with IE, so you you’ll need to upgrade to Chrome or Firefox to use dotEPUB.)

So you’ve found a useful site you want to convert. Check to see if the article is split into multiple pages. If so, use the site’s “print” function to see the entire article on one page. The rest is simple – click your newly installed  bookmarklet. You’ll be given a popup asking you to download the converted ePUB document.

You now have an epub file ready to share and are one step closer to mobile learning for your kids.

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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