Group Evaluation of A Multimedia App: Book Creator

In order to thoroughly evaluate the Book Creator app, each of our group members has summarized one relevant academic article below. We have also intertwined several multimedia principles into our research to further prove the viability of Book Creator as an effective classroom tool.

In Chapter 15, Exploring the Suitability of the Book Creator for iPad App for Early Childhood Education of the book Mobile Learning Design: Theories and Application, Monika Tavernier (2016) conducts a 12-week quantitative study to determine how beneficial Book Creator is as a tool for early childhood education. Over the course of the study, the app’s many multimedia functions become more accessible for students to use independently as they rely less on the guidance of an adult. It was established that in order to use this app effectively with young learners, a thoughtfully scaffolded unit plan must be constructed to ensure students are familiarized with the functions of the app to create meaningful work. This utilizes the guided discovery principle as student learning is directed towards agency and exploration. As the students become acquainted with Book Creator, the teacher can take a step back and leave the students to express themselves and their understanding of a topic through the app. Moreover, Book Creator provides a place for the “user to draw, type, take photos, create videos, create voice recordings, or a combination of all of these, and add these creations to their digital artefacts”(p. 251). The voice recording aspect is especially effective for younger students who cannot yet write. Giving them the opportunity to explain their drawings and clarify meaning; instead of leaving it up to the teacher to infer. Book Creator empowers young students to be independent and convey their learning in whichever way best suits their needs.

In the article, “Book Creator: An App For Turning Language Learners into Authors” Deryn Mansell (2020) discusses the merits and limitations of the app. She commends its creators for updating the app to include text-to-speech software, which increases accessibility for emerging readers or students who may have a visual impairment. Mansell also praises Book Creator for including a collaborative feature that allows students to work together on their projects. Given that Book Creator is simply a platform on which students can create, it is up to the educator to ensure that the activity or project students are assigned is pedagogically sound. One way for educators to do this is to be aware of the collaboration principle, which is discussed in Chapter 24 of the Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. In that chapter, the authors assert that in order for collaborative learning to be productive, the task must be challenging enough to justify working with others. In addition, the positive outcome from working with a group must outweigh the challenges of doing so. As long as the educator thoughtfully plans a project, meaningful collaboration can take place. Keeping the collaboration principle in mind, Book Creator is a fantastic tool. Students are empowered when they use the app because, with its help, “[they] become authors.”(Mansell, 2020, p.36). 

In the article, “Research That Resonates: Student Research Projects Using iMovie and Book Creator” Andrea Gillier and Laura Schmaltz (2016) focus on what educators can do to create a learner-centred environment. A statement that stands out is that “technology [should be used] to support the creation and sharing of knowledge rather than to support teaching” (p. 3). This quote perfectly describes Book Creator because students can create their own books to demonstrate learning. When students are given the opportunity to pick a topic that interests them, they will be more likely to feel a sense of pride and ownership toward their work. A project is described in the article where students use Book Creator to create and narrate a book. The learning objective was for students to verbally and visually communicate their understanding of an English Language Arts concept. This project demonstrates the modality principle. Instead of solely using printed text, the modality principle states that learning is enhanced by using graphics and narration. Overall, Gillier and Schmaltz emphasize that students should be creating content instead of consuming it. This is achievable through Book Creator.

In the article, “Writing and iPads in the early years: Perspectives from within the classroom” Jill Dunn and Tony Sweeney (2018) conduct an international study investigating the use of iPads to teach compositional writing. More specifically, how this writing differs from using pen and paper. Book Creator and similar apps are praised throughout the article for helping students develop and communicate their thoughts through multimodal texts. Most of the teachers could agree that writing activities using the iPad were perceived by students as more of a game than work. The ability to add images, drawings and voice recordings presents ample opportunity for choice and creativity. In other words, apps like Book Creator are taking advantage of the Multimedia and Voice principles to enhance learning. Students also celebrated iPad features like autocorrect for underlining misspelled words in red, thus pointing out where they must go back and edit. Here the signalling feature supports learning. Dunn & Sweeney acknowledge the value of a pencil, but argue that it can also be “a potential obstacle for some children’s literacy development in the increasingly digitised world” (p. 866). Embracing alternative forms of communication in the classroom, such as Book Creator, helps solve this problem. 

Our academic research combined with our understanding of the multimedia learning principles makes it clear that Book Creator is a wonderful addition to any classroom. The app empowers students and gives them agency over their own learning. Simply put, Book Creator positions students as creators of knowledge, rather than consumers of knowledge.

Here is an example of a book that one of our group members, Shaylin, created.

Here is a short tutorial that teaches you how to use Book Creator:

References: 

Churchill, D., Lu, J., Chiu, T. K. F., & Fox, B. (2015;2016;). Mobile learning design: Theories and application. Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-0027-0 

Dunn, J., & Sweeney, T. (2018). Writing and iPads in the early years: Perspectives from within the classroom. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(5), 859-869. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/10.1111/bjet.12621

Gillier, A., & Schmaltz, L. (2016). Research that resonates: Student research projects using iMovie and book creator. Alberta Voices, 13(1), 3-4. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/docview/1932272058?accountid=14846  

Mansell, D. (2020). Book Creator: an app for turning language learners into authors. Fine Print (0159-3978), 43(1), 35–36. Retrieved from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=e71dec8b-6213-4011-b810-39609e4dd0c9%40pdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=142588817&db=aph 

Scheiter, K. (2014). The Learner Control Principle in Multimedia Learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 487-512). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139547369.025)

Group Evaluation of a Multimedia App: Book Creator

As a group, we have chosen to evaluate the multimedia application called “Book Creator”. We agreed out of our group’s individually chosen apps, Book Creator was the most versatile in the classroom as it can be utilized in any subject area. This app is a favourite of many educators. Notably, Lisa Read, the District Technology Coordinator for SD 79, speaks highly of this app because of the opportunity it gives students to create, rather than consume. We also appreciate how it contributes to student-centred learning by allowing students to learn through their own creations. They can bring their ideas to life by combining text, images, audio, and video to create interactive stories. With Book Creator, the possibilities for creations are endless. Students can demonstrate their learning in each subject area using various formats such as journals, reports, instructional manuals, poetry books, etc. Students and teachers alike can benefit from using Book Creator to create content. 

Book Creator also promotes several multimedia learning principles. Through the app, users can intertwine words and pictures together. This promotes learning through the Multimedia, Split-Attention, Spatial and Temporal Contiguity Principles. The app also has a recording feature, which users can use to narrate their creation. This adheres nicely to the modality principle. Book Creator can also be used collaboratively, which follows the Collaboration Principle. Like any piece of educational technology, the user can make decisions that follow multimedia principles. A skillful user could use Book Creator to follow the Segmenting, Personalization, Voice, Image, Guided Discovery, Worked Examples, Self-Explanation, and Feedback Principles. 

According to the SAMR framework, Book Creator allows for the transformation of learning. This technology allows for the creation of new projects and tasks that would otherwise be impossible.

References:

H. L. (2017). SAMR Model: A Practical Guide for EdTech Integration. Schoology Exchange. https://www.schoology.com/blog/samr-model-practical-guide-edtech-integration

McCue, R. (2020b, June 10). Lisa Read SD 79: Evaluating Educational Technologies [Mp3]. https://soundcloud.com/rich-mccue/interview-with-lisa-read-district-instructional-technology-coordinator-sd-79

Nearpod Evaluation

Nearpod is an online student engagement platform. Teachers can create lesson that promote interactivity by using tools such as quizzes, polls, videos, drawing boards, discussion boards, imaging, and virtual reality. Nearpod also has hundreds of pre-made lessons on countless topics for all grade levels. Like any multimedia learning platform, it can be used skillfully to adhere to multimedia learning principles. For example, teachers can choose not to include irrelevant information (coherence principle). Similarly, it can be used in less than ideal ways that end up increasing cognitive load for students and decreasing learning. An example of this in relation to Nearpod would be to include the same information several times in different ways, which would increase cognitive load and decrease learning (redundancy principle).  The interactivity principle says that students should be able to control the speed of instruction. This also includes the ability to pause, play, and rewind content. Nearpod can be student paced, but only if you buy the gold membership for $120 for the year.

Here are the basic features that everyone gets for free with the Silver membership:

In order to evaluate Nearpod further, I referenced this rubric for e-learning from Western University. This rubric has eight categories to reference:

  1. Functionality: Nearpod is user-friendly, has great technical support available, and allows for adaptive engagement with the material. However, it cannot be scaled to over 40 people unless you buy a gold, platinum, or school district membership.
  2. Accessibility: Users do not need specialized equipment or software to use Nearpod. Nearpod also meets accessibility standards and is focussed on tailoring instruction to fit the needs of diverse learners. Nearpod silver is free, but does not include all features, such as student-paced instruction. The higher levels of Nearpod are costly, and therefore not as accessible.
  3. Technical: Users can successfully use Nearpod with any up to date operating system and do not need to download additional software.
  4. Mobile Design: Students can access Nearpod from any mobile device.
  5. Privacy, Data Protection, and Rights: For an in depth analysis of Nearpod’s privacy concerns, check out this website.
  6. Social Presence: Nearpod allows teachers to control learner anonymity and also gives teachers the ability to control what a learner posts. Nearpod is not well known in my circles, and I do not think that many students are familiar with it. However, it is user-friendly and student would learn quickly how to navigate it. Nearpod, from what I can tell, does not allow for direct contact from student to student (messaging, etc.), but it does allow for larger scale collaboration on message boards curated by the teacher.
  7. Teaching Presence: Nearpod is completely customizable and aids teachers in collecting data for assessment.
  8. Cognitive Presence: Teachers can easily and regularly provide formative feedback for students through Nearpod. Nearpod can be used to engage higher order thinking skills, depending on the design and facilitation of the lesson by the teacher.

According to the SAMR model, Nearpod could be categorized as a substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition, depending how the teacher chooses to use it. It can be used to present a slide show (substitution), or present a slide show to students and have them complete activities for formative assessment on the spot (augmentation). It can also be used to do significantly change tasks (modification), and use tools like virtual reality that would not have been possible without it (redefinition).

From an instructor’s perspective, Nearpod is easy to use and seems like it would be engaging and interactive for students. I could definitely see myself using Nearpod in my teaching practice. I got the idea to use Nearpod from one of my favourite teacher instagram accounts @fantasticallyfourth (Shane Saeed). She has a great IGTV video on how to use nearpod, which I will include below:

References:

Antsey, Lauren M., & Watson, Gavan P. L. (2018). Rubric for e-Learning Tool Evaluation. [PDF file]. https://teaching.uwo.ca/pdf/elearning/Rubric-for-eLearning-Tool-Evaluation.pdf

(2019, February 15). Privacy Evaluation for Nearpod. Common Sense Privacy Program. https://privacy.commonsense.org/evaluation/nearpod

H. L. (2017, October 30). SAMR Model: A Practical Guide to Ed Tech Integration. Schoology Exchange. https://www.schoology.com/blog/samr-model-practical-guide-edtech-integration

Nearpod. (2020). Keep Students Engaged in Learning…Wherever they are. https://nearpod.com. Retrieved on June 16, 2020.

Saeed, S. [@fantasticallyfourth].(2020, April 19). How To Use Nearpod. [IGTV video]. Retrieved from:https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_LX9RHBwrE/