A couple of weeks ago I self-published a free interactive i-book, Land Law & Sustainability. The book is available through itunes – though it can only be viewed by those with Apple devices, I’m sad to say.
I received a small grant from James Cook University’s Division of Learning Teaching & Student Engagement for the project. I had already been looking into the possibility of publishing an e-book. I was looking for something to support student learning in law that was inexpensive (possibly free), accessible, able to be digitally manipulated by the user, and aligned with my own teaching interests. I therefore couldn’t resist playing with the technology to do this project.
So did I achieve these goals?
I used the Apple program iBooks Author to create the book. It was the easiest program I’ve ever used. It was intuitive, and took me only a few minutes to create something that actually looked like it might be a book. The layouts were easy to set up and the widgets were on the whole easy to install. I did not take advantage of all widgets – so there is no video or audio clips. I did however install interactive quizzes and slideshows. The entire book is hyperlinked.
Because I generally use PowerPoint to make my own slides (and share them on slideshare) I did have to convert them to Keynote to install in the book. The slideshows then have the same function as slideshare does – but embedded within the book itself.
I hyperlinked wherever possible to cases and legislation. My view is that I would rather students go to source than rely on excerpts. If it is easier to reach primary sources, then surely students are more likely to use them…
The content of the book is almost directly from the workbooks I provide students taking my subjects Land Law 1 and Land Law 2. Usually I provide word documents on a module by module basis. The book collects all of these together. In this format the workbooks include other resources that I normally post on the subject site, such as slides and quizzes. The book therefore becomes an integrated subject resource.
Readers of the book can highlight, annotate and share – it will be interesting to see how students engage with the book.
My only real issue with this platform of publication is that it is not universally accessible – it can be used only by those with an Apple device. It is possible to upload it as a PDF, making the content universally accessible, but it loses the lovely functionality that is the highlight of the interactive book.
My students seemed excited when I released the book – so I will see what they think about its utility in enhancing their learning before I pass the final verdict.