A Teacher’s View on iBooks Author

A Teacher’s View on iBooks Author

This morning, Apple announced iBooks 2. Those following the rumors were expecting interactive textbooks in the typical flashy Apple style (great coverage at Macrumors and Macworld). What I didn’t expect to hear about was iBooks Author. This free app allows you to create your own interactive textbooks. Here are my initial thoughts on iBooks Author, and the application to the classroom.

As an ed tech teacher, I try to deliver content to my students in interesting, meaningful ways. I’ve struggled with ways to share large amounts of information with students. I have created an ePub using Pages, but the workflow is tedious for me and my students. So far, creating a website with pages, links, and videos is the best solution I’ve found. iBooks Author hopes to give educators an easy way to create and distribute content as an iBook.

To get started, download iBooks Author for free from the App Store. 165 MB later, iBooks Author opens, and lets you choose a template. This isn’t the type of thing that you create in an hour–expect to spend some time writing and organizing information. After all, this is a textbook that is being created. The great thing, however, is that your textbook doesn’t have to be 200 pages. You can make a textbook for every unit, every week, or every day.

As a teacher, this is huge. With Apple’s typical drag-and-drop interface, I can quickly and easily create an interactive document for my students. It is simple to create a Review (interactive multiple-choice questions. It is simple to add a Keynote presentation that I already have. It is simple to create an HTML link/embed to content I already have online. It is simple to add an interactive image with various views and descriptions. Again, this entails a considerable amount of work, but the opportunities for my classroom are huge.

My favorite part of iBooks Author so far is the preview. Previously, you had to create a document in Pages, export it as an ePub, add it to iTunes, sync your iPad, and open iBooks on your iPad. Now, connect your iPad to your computer, and you have a preview in seconds. I stopped creating ePubs for my students because the workflow was terrible. With this workflow, I will be creating many iBooks for my class.

Apple makes is fairly easy to distribute your content. You can export it as a .ibooks document, and add it to your website or email students. You can publish it to the iBooks store. This takes more effort, and involves signing up for and downloading iTunes Producer. However, you can sell (or give away) the book through the Store in iBooks. It seems like we, as teachers, finally have a way to create and distribute large amounts of content.

Teaching Music with the iPad and iPhone

Teaching Music with the iPad and iPhone

I’m using my iPad and iPhone all the time in my classroom. Being an elementary music teacher, integrating iPhone music apps seemed like an obvious step. After just a few months of using the iOS in my class, I can’t imagine teaching effectively without it. Here’s a list of my top apps for teaching music. Since most of you aren’t music teachers, this list can still be useful for two reasons: the concept of engaging students is the same; these apps are a great way to learn more about music.


I use LogMeIn to access my laptop whenever I have software that isn’t on my iPad or iPhone. LogMeIn connects via wifi, so make sure your device and computer are on the same wifi network. With a decently fast network, there’s little lag with remote controlling your computer. You actually see your computer screen on your device; this is awesome with the iPad, and tolerable with the iPhone. I use it to walk around the classroom as I am teaching a lesson. I’m no longer tethered to my laptop in the corner of the room.
LogMeIn and GarageBand


Here are some apps that are instruments. Most can be performed with little or no musical experience.






These are two simple apps that have basic fingering charts. If you don’t play or teach these, ignore them. If you do teach or play these, they are gold.



Steady rhythm/tempo is the foundation of music–if the rhythm is off, everything is off. I use Tempo for my personal practice and as a teacher to run rehearsals. It’s by far the best metronome around. Bands, like Scattered Hamlett, are using this live to keep steady time.

Real Book

Karajan Pro

Other Great Apps

Besides music, there are dozens (millions?) of great apps for teaching. Here’s a small list of ones we discussed at EdCampOC:
Class Cards: Randomly select students and keep data on quality and quantity of student data.
Dropbox: Transfer documents through the computing cloud.
Timer on File: easy to read & free
Evernote: gather and organize resources
Grover Monster: animated book for young reader
Sorted: Create lists
Pages: word processing, works with MS Word
Numbers: spreadsheet used for all types of student data
cheater pants
Math bingo