Some third graders have been exploring how they can make their own ebooks. This group was a big exploration. We really didn’t know what we were doing when we started, and we gave ourselves permission to just try things, problem solve, and be at peace if something just didn’t work.
We decided to try Barnes and Noble’s Tikatok first. It’s free and can either be done with a parent account with children added or can be done with a teacher account with students added. Students can use a gallery of photos or import their own. Most students chose to search for creative commons photos to use in their book. One student even did her own photography. Some students started with a written story and made their pages and images match their story. Others started with interesting images and tried to weave those into a story or collection of poems.
The free version of Tikatok only allows you to use photos and text. If you want to include audio, you have to pay to upgrade your account. Also, we learned that a parent account allows the books to be shared exactly as they are created, while a teacher account only allows the books to be shared with the word “tikatok” spread across each page. Ultimately, this is a tool for Barnes and Noble to make money through the purchase of the ebook version or the printed version. However, we found that it was useful enough and easy enough to use that we would try it again and only use the features that were free.
Another group will begin exploring in a couple of weeks. This group is probably going to try out a different tool called SimpleBooklet. There are many more features in this tool such as embedding Google docs, video, and audio. The feel of the book is more like a slideshow than the turning of pages in Tikatok, but the features may prove to support more creativity and transmedia experiences for students. Our hope is that these 2 exploration groups will work out some of the kinks for future groups and inspire whole grade levels to try this out.