Monday, August 6, 2012

So...You Wanna Make Your Own Books and Texbooks

For many teachers the traditional textbook just doesn't cut it any more. Between the rapid pace at which information changes and rising cost, many are looking for alternatives. Believe it or not, there are lots of options out there, if you know where to look and you are willing to get your hands dirty. The best part? Kids can create these using any of the tools below.

Talk about student-centered learning!

There are many ways to create your own digital textbooks. Using something like a MS Word doc could work. Students (or teachers) front load all the information, links and resources in and share. For a more collaborative, living document, you could try a Google Doc. But there are still limitations with those methods. (Like trying to share them across platforms.) Let's look at some other methods to create and sources of digital textbooks.

ePubs (ePubs In The Classroom)-The ePub format is a standard ebook format that works across platforms and on a variety of devices. Using a variety of free tools, students can create a book, textbook or any other type of informational publication to share.

Qwiki ( This isn't your traditional textbook. Qwiki allows you to compile a series of videos centered around a topic. The videos come from a variety of sources and you can easily share the compilation via a link, embed it as part of a website or post to Twitter or Facebook. (Here is an example.) Once one or several are created they could be used to teach or review specific topics in the classroom.

Apple iBooks Author ( If you use or have access to a Mac, you definitely should check out the iBooks Author. You can start with a template and then creating is as easy as dragging and dropping content on the page. Add audio, video, embeds and more. When it's done you can publish to the iBook store and share your project with the world.

Creating Books From Wikipedia ( One of the lesser known features of wikipedia is you can make your own PDFs of articles from the site. This could be great for short-term information or just as a way to put a few pieces of reference information together.

CK12 Flexbooks ( are my go-to textbooks when someone asks me for free digital textbooks. The site has several offerings for math, science, history and a few other subjects. They are aligned to the Common Core standards and many state standards as well. And they are module based so you can add information from another flexbook or take away information to highly customize the book to your class.

There is just 5 but there are lots and lots of other ways to create your own books and textbooks for class. What are you favorites? Leave them in the comments below.

photo credit: Johan Larsson via photo pin cc
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