Book Creator for Chrome

I have been meaning to post about Book Creator for Chrome for a while now and make a couple of ‘how to’ videos but Book Creator themselves have beaten me to it which is a good thing.

Book Creator for Chrome is available on any device as long as it has the Chrome web browser installed.

The first 7min video reprises how to use Book Creator for Chrome as a teacher after making a teacher account. Being in Chrome it is nice how you can search for on line images as well as use your own to illustrate your book and with one click publishing it is very easy to work with.

Importantly at the moment when learners go to register as a student it asks for them to register with their Google Account. I queried this and was told that other options are in the pipeline.

Joining as a student is really handy because then they can then join the teacher’s library automatically via an invite code and their names automatically aligned with their books for easy recognition, feedback and possible publication on line.

The teacher makes a library for collaboration by adding a library and then clicking on the three dots on the right hand side of the shared library.

This then generates an invite code that is shared with students so they can join to teachers library. This needs to be ready for students as they sign up

This second video is how to import books from your Google Drive or iPad into Book Creator for Chrome so they can be further worked on and edited before publication.

Publishing books via the iPad app and Chrome is easy- I would love to see and share what you have created.

Please link in the comments when you publish a book so we can see what others have created.

Let’s Booktrack

If you were anywhere near Twitter over the weekend you would have seen the tweets in a tsunami like wave pouring from the #edchatnz conference held at Hobsonville Point in Auckland. I kept an eye on the Twitter #edchatnz hashtag stream while I was working and the learning session that particularly interested me was that by Craig Wilson sharing the features of Booktrack.

I have had Booktrack Classroom Reader as an iPad app for ages after seeing an interview on the television some years ago when the app first got publicity!

In a nutshell Booktrack layers an ambient soundtrack over a text so that you listen to it as you read and the soundtrack keeps track with the pace of your reading. I remember back to the first book I read – the Selfish Giant. In the book a door opens and I heard that sound of a door opening in the text at exactly the right moment. I was impressed that the sound track matched the reading experience.

I Googled it and found this segment from Seven Sharp more recently in March 2014.

Seven Sharp

I asked participants at the conference via Twitter if someone could Skype me into Craig’s session but no one was able to. Craig, however, picked up on my tweet and offered to show me more via Skype in the following week. This was a perfect solution to finding out more about Booktrack and fill in the gaps of my knowledge of its uses and features- from the expert and just in time for an advanced Google Apps workshop I am leading in a couple of weeks.

The first point to be aware of is the difference between Booktrack Classroom and Book Track Studio and the Booktrack mobile apps.

Booktrack Classroom is for education with a school sign up and the books are for general consumption and safe for students to read and view. A teacher creates an account- adds students who can log in with a password which the teacher can change. This is a fabulous feature as you can make your own version of Single Sign On and have fewer passwords to remember. Craig also suggested making a parent account so parents can log in to read the works that children in the class have made. Books created in Booktrack Classroom cannot be linked to or generally shared without a log in- a walled garden. You don’t have to have made a Booktrack account to read the bookshelf books.

With Booktrack Studio books can be shared via a URL and the content could potentially contain more open content. There is the ability to flag inappropriate material which is a another great feature.

The Booktrack Android and iPad apps are both readers only. If you want to create your own soundtrack you need to do so on a laptop or Chromebook.

As well as the web app I like that it is also a Chrome app linked to your Google Account. Here are the links to all the different ways you can access Booktrack. You can’t say they are limiting access!!

When you first open the app you can read books that others have written as exemplars and just plain engaging books to read. But the creative side of me loves that I can write my own text and create my own soundtrack and publish it to the bookshelf for others to read.

Here is a sample book, The Farmer, the Rooster and the Jewel, that I put together. The workflow that I used was to have a student write a narrative in Google Docs- proof read, get feedback and improve it. I then copied the text into Booktrack and highlighted the text where I want the sounds to be placed. I can then layer from a zillion music, ambient or sound affects to add to the text. When done I publish.

Booktrack Example

I like this process for students as you have to read, re-read and make knowledgeable choices about which sound track or effect best fits with the text. I like also that readers can rate the book and see how many reads they have had.

Booktrack were also able to supply some research that shows how reading with Booktrack promotes reading and improves readability of texts.

Here are few video tutorials of the creation process

Very motivating.

I extend a big thank you to Booktrack and Craig who so willingly and passionately shared the process with me so I can on share it with others.

Here is an example recorded in class.

You can embed your Booktracks into a blog as well. How cool is that.

The Right Tool for the Job

Lynne Crowe recently posed a discussion question on the VLN Chromebook Book Group.

“We are just starting with some Chromebooks and wondered which one is the most popular/reliable in schools. We would appreciate any advice. Thanks.”

This led to a conversation around whether you would want more than one device in your classroom.

This got me wanting to further explain my mantra of late- “Use the right tool for the job”.

I liken it to using my kitchen knives. Would you want to limit the use of your kitchen cutlery to only using one kind of knife? And if you were only allowed one knife in your kitchen what kind would you choose to have to do every thing?

Imagine you were trying to cut a loaf of bread with vegetable knife! It would turn out badly with nothing close to the desired result.

If you wanted to carve a roast you wouldn’t choose a bread knife.

Even having something like a Swiss Army Knife with lots of knives built in doesn’t really do the cutting job you want done done properly.

Liken this scenario to your classroom devices. As you are probably aware I am a big fan of using iPads and Google Apps in the classroom but I avoid using ‘the Google’ for anything apart from searching on my iPad ‘cos it is all a bit too fiddly and you loose a lot of the functionality that you get when you are using Chrome on a laptop. I have the choice of devices and I know which one is the best for which task because I have had experience in using them all.

I really need a mixture of devices so I can learn what is the right tool according to our needs. I want Chromebooks for Google, iPads for portability and diversity, Mac Book Airs for power, iPod Touches for portability on the move.

I also want a rich mixture of traditional classroom resources- pens, felts, chalk, pencils, paint, paper, cardboard etc……

To find out what was best for my classroom I would heed more the advice of other teachers and practitioners about their experiences with devices rather than being swayed by the preferences of well meaning tech people who might be good with technology but have little idea of the complexity and challenges of classroom teaching. I get cross when I hear of tech support companies and commercial sellers advising schools of what they think would be the best solution for them. I would rather listen to the advice of someone without a vested interested in selling me something than a door-to-door snake knife salesperson.

I would visit other schools and learn of their experiences. I would join Twitter, attend Educamps and conferences like ULearn and learn from and with people who are on the same journey as me.


Ask Before You Post

I regularly start conversations with people about how important digital literacy, cyber safety and understanding the nature of the web is for them to understand but I learnt a couple of good lessons myself this week.

They revolved around asking permission to use other people’s images and work and the other was about the length of time things stay on line.

I was sharing some of my learning around using iPads and numeracy at a school this week. I thought things had gone well and everyone was leaving when one of the teachers came to me as I was packing up and we got into a conversation around other resources of mine she had used and one in particular on taking good photos.

She astounded me really as I have not shared that stuff in ages and it was of the first things that I shared in any sort of public way quite a number of years ago.

Back in the days when digital cameras were new I had made a Powerpoint for my class on how to take good photos using the Rule of Thirds. I had used all my own family photos apart from a couple that I had ‘borrowed’ from the ICT facilitator of the time, Jocelyn MacKay. I don’t recall asking Jocelyn if I could use her images and I had no idea where she had got them from- I assumed from some anonymous internet source.

I hadn’t asked my family members either if I could use their photos cos I reckoned they were my family and wouldn’t mind but on reflection I should have asked them too! It was in the days before I worried about whose images I was using and whether I should ask first.

Anyway this teacher said she was surprised to be viewing a the Rule of Thirds Powerpoint I had shared and see a photo of her nephew at the age of about six. Her nephew is now twenty-five and living overseas. She was OK with it and didn’t mind but I was still embarrassed that it was there.

Everyone’s image on the internet is their own and I should always ask first before assuming it is OK to use other people’s stuff.

It is a lot harder to retrace your steps once the image has left the privacy of your camera.

I need to think more about these sorts of things and be more vigilant.

Pinterest Sharing and Curating

I have been learning how Pinterest works lately and I like it.

It appeals to me for its ease of use, its reliability and its social nature.

You log in and set up some pin boards of things that you are interested in. Add a Pin It button to your bookmarks bar by dragging it, just like you do for your RSS or Diigo or Delicious or VLN bookmarlet.

Anything you like on the web with an image in it somewhere you just click on the ‘Pin It’ bookmarket, decide which image prompt you want to go with it and what board to put it on and you’re away.

If it’s a site without an image you can save and upload your own so it still works.

You can put a ‘Follow me on Pinterest’ widget on your blog as well like I have done here on my blog side bar so that people know that you are pinning on Pinterst and follow along.

Here is what my boards look like after a couple of weeks of pinning.

These are just my boards but you find some other people that are pinning and you can follow their stuff too so we all end up share and re-pinning their stuff onto your boards.


Give it a go. It’s fun and a useful way to store and find your stuff.

Oh and it’s a free iPad app too!!!

And Android.

My School Day

I would like to share my school day with teachers from Barbara Reid‘s ICTPD Cluster  in Hamilton in the holidays.

I nade a couple of Keynote presentations and uploaded them to Slideshare so I could share them more widely and all the hyperlinks would work when viewed. I had to cull them a bit to fit them in under the 10MB upload file size.

The first is focussing on the junior school, the second on seniors. For the Junior presentation I also used the blogs of Sherryn Lines and Cherryl Eden to help illustrate. Thanks team.

Our Junior Classroom Day

View more presentations from allanahk
And here is how I do my senior school day.

Digital Literacy and Employment

This morning via Twitter Kevin Honeycutt shared a video excerpt from his soon to be published eBook. The excerpt is titled Digital Literacy and Employment. I spent some time watching it and it held my interest right to the end which is good cos I often can’t concentrate for that length of time.

I think his audience is young adults, teachers and parents. He talks conversationally to young people about the implications of being digital and addresses issues around developing a network that can enhance your career or sink it!

A must watch for anyone learning with young people. To view the video click on the graphic and wait for it to load- I watched it on my iPhone.

Kevin’s keynote at Learning at School was brilliant and I can’t wait for it to be published on EdTalks so I can share it with you. Happy also to update my trophy photo set on Flickr. Hehehe!