Creating Interactive eBooks with Students to Enrich Curriculum and Build Community

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Paula MacDowell, Faculty of Education

Leila Amouzandeh, Paula MacDowell, and Avneet Sandhu

Project team: Leila Amouzandeh and Avneet Sandhu, research assistants

Timeframe: September 2018 to August 2019

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • EDUC 100 – Selected Questions and Issues in Education
  • EDUC 358 – Foundations of Educational Technology

Description: The purpose of this project is to achieve a better understanding of how creating a course eBook can enhance students’ learning experiences and build a classroom community focussed on inquiry. I use the iBooks Author app as an integral part of the curriculum in writing-intensive courses to facilitate a technology-enhanced learning environment for students to research, write, edit, and design term papers. Using a collaborative process that I developed (and am continuing to refine) we work together as a writing team to make and share a media-rich eBook with the world (available to download for free on iTunes). Students learn how to create relevant and compelling educational content using photo galleries, scrolling sidebars, popovers, animations, videos, and their voice. Rather than being users or consumers of digital content, learners are guided and inspired to create a short chapter for the course eBook compilation, with an emphasis on meaningful integration of media and technology.

While there are many innovative technological and pedagogical options to engage our students and build community, there are also considerable challenges with integrating technology in meaningful and inclusive ways within the context of a university classroom. This inquiry project will examine the affordances and constraints of integrating iBooks Author with a course curriculum, with a specific focus on student empowerment and the development of an academic writing community.

Questions addressed:

  • What are the technical challenges and opportunities of creating an interactive eBook as a course assignment?
  • What do students learn about academic writing by creating an eBook with peers?
  • In what ways do students learn by writing a term paper in a technology-enhanced and collaborative learning environment?
  • How can the process of creating a class eBook be improved?

Knowledge sharing:
Impactful ways of communicating the project findings and outcomes include:

  • Refereed journal article in the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (the RAs will have joint authorship);
  • Presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (CSSE) June 1-5, 2019
  • The class eBooks will be available free online to increase public visibility and invite other students and faculty members to engage with the innovative curriculum in SFU courses. We will publish the class eBooks on iTunes using a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC 2.5 CA) licence.

Of significance, the student authors of Traditions, Education, Technology were publicly acknowledged and honoured at the 2017 Celebration of SFU Authors. I plan to submit Educational Issues and Controversy and Traditions, Education, Technology, Volume 2 to the 2018 Celebration of SFU Authors. If accepted, these undergraduate student authors will have a unique opportunity to get recognition from SFU for their work.

Links to iBooks Paula MacDowell has created with her students: