EdTech Trend: Interactive Textbooks

By Monica Burns 06.16.2014 blog

With more and more schools investing in tablet technology, educators are seeing endless possibilities for how they can transform their curriculum with engaging tools. Instead of investing money in traditional textbooks, they’re finding or developing their own interactive textbooks. Students are able to tap on the screen, watch videos, and gather information in a whole new way. They can see the pages of their textbook come to life and interact with the content like never before. You can provide students in your classroom with tons of extra resources and real world examples that grab their attention. Interactive textbooks are a powerful new tool that is worth exploring.

How does it work?

Interactive textbooks have features that give students the power to gather information as they read by having a more engaging experience with the words on the page. The exact type of special features depends on the particular type of interactive book you’re using. Teens can tap on different words in the text to see a definition or hear the word read aloud. They can highlight important sentences just like in a regular book. Teens have the option to type in notes as they read or bookmark different pages. The multimedia included within an interactive textbook makes it especially appealing for educators who have access to the Internet in their classrooms. Students can watch videos that bring the words on the page to life, swipe through a slideshow of pictures, or zoom into a diagram.

Where can you find them?

Traditional textbook publishers are embracing the fact that tablet technology has invaded K-12 classrooms. They are starting to develop textbooks that work best on a mobile device. Many of these fall into the Social Studies and Science categories. You can search the website of your favorite publisher – or one that your school orders from frequently – to see what options they offer. There are also a handful of apps that give users access to the same features of an interactive textbook. They transform your iPad or Android tablet by allowing students to engage with an informational text on a particular subject.  These are often focused on one topic and be found by searching the App Store with keywords related to a unit of study. Some teachers have decided to create their own textbooks using iBooks Author. This Mac software let’s teachers design their own textbooks that can be opened on an iPad or in the most current Mac operating system Mavericks.

Why would I make my own?

Teachers are embracing tools like iBooks Author to make customized content for their students. They can handpick resources for their class that relates specifically to their curriculum.  By making their own textbook these educators can tailor reading levels to their students, find updated content, and make the experience very unique.  Teachers also have the option to build in review questions and connect to assessment platforms to make sure their students understand what they have read.

Have you tried out interactive textbooks in your classroom? Share your ideas and experiences below!

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.


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