Friday, 24 January 2014

Creating an E-book

E-Book EVO so far

This month I have been working with many wonderful educators around the world to think about the way textbooks are going and how to deal with the changes this will bring to the classroom, or even outside the classroom:-)


My trainees have a bitty programme:
  1. Read the chapter of the book ( after waiting ages for it to arrive in the post)
  2. Answer the questions in the distance learning pack (paper-based)
  3. Check your answers in the key provided
  4. Go to the group wiki to look at a video, listen to a podcast....
  5. Back to the paper to complete a task
  6. Email a tutor part to me for marking.
For a while now, I have been wondering how to make the experience easier and more interactive. My chance came when the American organisation TESOL put out the list of topics for their yearly EVO (Electronic Village Online) sessions. These are free and run for a period of 5 weeks in January and February and always have great moderators. 
The session on creating an e-book is moderated by some of my favourite people: Shelly Terrell, Sylvia Guignan,Janet Bianchini, Chuck Sandy,Lindsey Clandfield and many more, 15 in total, with an astounding record of knowledge and experience between them.


The sessions started with 3-2-1 introductions. These were presented using a variety of tools, some of which I quickly bookmarked, as I had never used them before and was amazed at what they could produce. For these alone my online toolbox is richer.  I used the glogster which is embedded below. This allowed us to explain the content and target users of our e-books, and to find others which whom we could collaborate if they shared similar goals. This was also a godsend in making sense of the hundreds of participants on the course, as it separated us into smaller, more workable, peer groups. 

 CC Licences

We moved on to looking at creative commons licences, and had to determine which one would suit our publication.This took a lot of thought: 
  • Is collaboration a good idea?-Yes
  • Do I want others to be able to make money from my ideas? No
  • Do I wish to share freely? Maybe
  • What if others want to alter my work? Mmn
Having deliberated long and hard I chose a licence which will allow others to share, but not rip-off the ideas for personal profit, which I think seems fair at this point.

Design and Contents

Next we started to consider the design. First, the elements to be included in our book, and then the contents themselves.  I produced my ideal using the Prezi platform, which allowed me to do a very Maslow-looking pyramid design My E-book Design

 to analyse what I expected in the way of content. I am already excited by the idea, but seeing it starting to evolve, in a rational and concrete way is super cool.


Next we attempted to find an ideal meeting point for the group. Oh my word, it isn't easy, when we are all a world away from each other and have to take time zones into consideration. We finally fixed on a time when everyone is able to come together online, so that will be the next stage. Collaboration will benefit all of us, as we can get too close to our projects and need the eyes of the others to improve what we will finally produce.

We have also had some very interesting Google Hangouts, where the week's moderators have given us sterling advice, or just helped make sense of the progress made during the week. Not to forget the twitter account #EbookEVO :-)


I only have one regret, which is personal and not a dig at anyone. I have done, and am doing, different sessions with EVO. Normally they open the week's tasks at the beginning of the week, and archive them in order to make room for the following week's work. This keeps the group on target, and more or less in the same place. The latecomers can catch up, but no-one can  really race ahead. With this group, many people had finished the first week's tasks before the official start date and are now so far ahead that other people, who are just joining, might be overwhelmed.
When everyone is on the same page it helps the others to reflect on the task at hand. I know the rationale is that people will be doing this around their work schedule, so will be doing as much as they can, when they can, but.......
It might be worth thinking about for another time?

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