Tag Archives: Textbook

97% of U.S. educators use some form of digital content in classrooms

2015-07-09

Education is the largest market for books, non-fiction is the second largest and fiction is the third largest. Ebook markets, however, started developing from fiction, but behind the scenes, plenty of digital innovation has already taken place in educational institutions. That’s what the survey of educational market by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also indicates: 97% of educators in the U.S. are already using digital material for teaching.

Smiling little schoolgirl using computer 1

The survey HMH Educator Confidence Report was conducted by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). The publisher surveyed over 1,000 teachers and school and district administrators across the United States for the report. Here are some highlights.

The most common digital resources educators used were:
– Free/open-educational resources (used by 71% of respondents) and videos (66%)
– Digital versions of instructional materials and interactive whiteboards (both 54%)
– Apps, websites and digital games (51%).

Almost all educators surveyed (97%) use some form of digital content.
More than 50% use apps, websites or games in classrooms.
Two-thirds, however, cite infrequent use of digital tools for various learning purposes, with only 23% using the most prevalent form of classroom technology on a daily basis.
58% of educators are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about student data privacy.

Educational markets haven’t gone unnoticed by leading companies in the ebook business. Amazon, Apple and Google all have similar targets: build a system that lets schools deploy a comprehensive digital learning environment. Teachers create educational material themselves into the system or purchase it from a bookstore. They distribute the material to students via the system and control licensing. Amazon Whispercast, Apple iTunes U, and Google Play for Education are taking their first steps in the educational market, but there will be plenty of development in this field in the coming years.

Popular ebooks used by educators across the world are, for instance, Discussion on Electricity (an introduction to electricity and magnetism) and Creo Parametric User Guide (a tutorial for 3D planning, modeling and milling).

Kindle Textbook Creator Ebook App Gets Video and Audio Enhancements

2015-04-21

Amazon Kindle Textbook Creator is a simple, but working PC application for converting PDF books into ebooks that can be read on Fire tablets and Kindle PC applications. The Textbook Creator was launched in January 2015, and now, three months later, Amazon has released an update to the application. The update is important: it lets you embed video clips, audio and pop up images into ebooks.

kindletextbook-video1

We tested the first version of the Textbook Creator, found it useful, and converted two books (Discussions on Electricity and Creo Parametric User Guide) that are on sale on Amazon Kindle Store.

Now, we tried out the new features in the new Kindle Textbook Creator 1.5. Specifically, we wanted to find out how to insert video clips and photographs into books. The results turned out to be a very different from, for instance, Apple iBooks Author.

First, you have to import a PDF book, or open an existing project. Then, you can simply insert any of the following multimedia elements into the book:
• Video: .mp4
• Audio: .mp3
• Images: .jpeg or .png

The Textbook Creator didn’t accept all MP4 files we tried to insert into the book, but we managed to get some video clips embedded. Here is the curious thing: the Textbook Creator shows only a small icon in the position where we inserted a video clip. Once the reader clicks/taps the icon, a video window opens for viewing the film.

kindle textbook creator, video

Klaava Media has published many ebooks that include multimedia elements, such as a travel guide to Sweden and France, but we will wait how the Textbook Creator develops before processing them through the application.

Amazon Kindle Store Accepts PDF-Ebooks, but There’s a Catch

2015-01-23

Amazon’s Kindle ebook format is fine for books with simple layout that include text and a few diagrams or photos. If an author or publisher has required interactive features or multimedia, in many cases Apple iBooks Author has been the tool of choice. Now, Amazon has launched the Kindle Textbook Creator that the company intends to build as a competitor to the iBooks Author. At launch, however, the Kindle Textbook Creator starts out as a simple conversion tool.
kindle textbook creator screen shot
A 3D modeling guidebook in Kindle Textbook Creator.

In brief, the purpose of the Kindle Textbook Creator is to provide an easy way to convert PDF books into a format that is compatible with Kindle reading apps and Fire tablets. The Textbook Creator can convert PDF files into Amazon’s proprietary book format. After conversion, books can be previewed in the Textbook Creator and packaged into files to be delivered to the Kindle Store.

That’s it. That’s what the current Beta version of the Textbook Creator can do. You can’t edit the book, but you can move, insert and remove pages.

Yet, I believe the Kindle Textbook Creator has a bright future ahead. First, the vast collection of nonfiction books and textbooks that haven’t been converted into KF (simple Kindle file format) can be converted and made available to customers. Second, Amazon says that the future releases of the Textbook Creator will include video, audio and interactive features. It will mean a major step forward for rich multimedia books.

What’s the catch?
1. Ebooks converted in the Textbook Creator can only be distributed via the Kindle Store. The application saves books in .KPF format that even Amazon’s own reading applications can’t open. The book must be uploaded to the Kindle Store and then downloaded from the store for viewing.
2. The Textbook Creator can only import and convert PDF books.
3. Books converted in the Textbook Creator can not be opened in Kindle ereaders, but they can be viewed in all Kindle reading apps available for computers, tablets and smartphones and on Amazon Fire tablets.

After trying out the Kindle Textbook Creator, I don’t mind these limitations. The only thing is that publishers – like us – would like to have is the capability to test a new book on an actual device before uploading it to the Kindle Store. The Previewer function in the Textbook Creator works fine, but nothing can beat testing a new book on multiple real hardware and software platforms.

Below screen shots that show how the Kindle Textbook Creator handles tables and different text layouts.
Kindle Textbook Creator screen shot  on Mac
Kindle Textbook Creator