Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Use App Smashing on the iPad to Create an iBook

This article was first posted on Daily Genius 

Image Courtesy: Daily Genius 

iPads can be powerful teaching tools.  In classrooms around the world iPads are mainly used by teachers and students for consumption, curation, and creation of information.  Naturally, due to its simplicity, consumption of information is the most common way in which iPads are used in and out of the classroom.  Also, many people use iPads for curating and organizing content.  However, creation of information is one of the most powerful ways students can use iPads in the classroom because it allows them to unleash their creativity and illustrate their knowledge in multifaceted ways.
One of the most inventive ways of using iPads to create content is app smashing.  App smashing is the process of using more than one apps in conjunction with one another to create a final product.  Combine that with the unique ability of Apple’s products to communicate content seamlessly between devices, and students have at their disposal the perfect powerhouse of content creation.  In this article, I will outline the process I use with my students in order to create a final product that redefines learning and provides a glimpse into the creativity and inventiveness of the human mind.

Step I: Start with the end product in mind
Before beginning a project, one has to ensure that he/she has a clear vision of the final product.  This is mainly because the playful nature of many of the iPad’s apps makes it easy for a child to get distracted and eventually deviate from the main goal.  In my classroom, before we even begin a project, we discuss what we want to achieve, and define as clearly as possible what the final product should look like, as well as what we will try to accomplish during each individual step.

Step II: Create a list of the apps you will be using
Once the final product is clearly defined, then the process of app selection begins.  The goal here is to curate a collection of apps that a) communicate with each other via the Camera app, or via the “open in” function, and b) allow the user to build a layer of content, that will serve as a foundation for the content that will be laid upon by the next app. 

Step III: outline the process with specific details
Most children today are digital natives and need little or no support, even when they work with fairly complex digital content.  However, many elementary children, not to mention most adults, will probably need some level of support, at least during their first app smashing activity.  One of the best strategies here is to create an outline specifying the different steps the students should follow when they work with each app.  A short video tutorial might be a great guide that answers all, or most of the questions that students might have, and refines the process.

Part IV: Publish the final product in accessible and appropriate ways.
Once the final product is created, it should be shared so that the students will demonstrate their knowledge beyond the walls of the classroom.  This inevitably creates some challenges, as privacy concerns should be addressed, especially with younger children.  Although YouTube and social media might be appropriate places to share content created by some students, there may be other services or platforms that are more suitable for other students, especially elementary students.  Some examples are Vimeo, DropBox, Box, TeacherTube, and Google Drive.  Parents, teachers, and schools define the various levels of privacy differently, which means that the choice might be based on factors that provide a level of privacy acceptable by everyone.

Step I: Start with the end product in mind:
The students will create an iBook about the Solar System.  The iBook will contain text, pictures, videos, and 3-dimensional models.

Step II: Create a list of the apps you will be using
iPad Apps: Tellagami, iMovie, VideoScribe, VideoMix, Camera, GarageBand, Keynote.
Apple MacBook Apps: iBooks Author
3D Software: SketchUp

Step III: outline the process with specific details
Here is a video tutorial that explains that process

Here is a video tutorial that explains the how to create an intro video for your iBook.

On any computer, Mac or PC, open SketchUp, click on the picture of the person that appears when you start a SketchUp project and then click “delete”.  Once your area is clear, Click on “File”, then “3D Warehouse”, then “Get Models”.  In the upper left corner, in the “search” field, type the word of the object you need, in this case, a planet.  Click on the picture you need, and then click “download”.  That will bring the picture in the Sketch Up model.  Then click “File”, “Export”, and then “3D Model”.  Name the file and make sure you save it as a .Collada file.  Your 3D file is now ready to be imported in iBooks Author.  Alternatively, you can use the process outlined in the video below and create your own 3D content.

iBooks Author
On a MacBook, open iBooks Author and choose a template. Use the appropriate wizards to import videos, pictures and the 3D Collada files you created in SketchUp.  Bring in the intro video you created in Keynote and drop it in “Intro Media”.  When you finish your iBook, click on “File” then “Export”, then “iBook”.

Here is a video that explains the SketchUp/iBook Author process

Step IV: Publish the final product in accessible and appropriate ways.

Google Drive: The final iBook was uploaded on the school’s Google Drive and it was shared with the students via their school email addresses.  NOTE: Plato Academy has adopted Google Apps for Education.  Every teacher, parent, and student at Plato Academy has his/her own email account.

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