Why is My Son’s Backpack as Heavy as a Truck?


Stack_of_books2I never see my son crack open a book. Ever. When my high schooler does homework its on my laptop or his iPhone. I know this because he leaves all of his browser tabs open when he is finished. Kind of like how he leaves all of his stinky tennis socks laying around the house after tennis. He does it without thinking about it. It’s what comes natural to him. Why then, is he lugging around a backpack that weighs 20 lbs?

I am wondering why schools are still investing millions of dollars into textbooks that nobody ever opens.  And why would they open those books when they have everything they need online?

Sometimes I become the suspicious paranoid parent and ask him what he is watching all the time on his phone. His answers usually blow my mind as well as put me at ease. He will say things like, “Oh, I was just watching how Elon Musk is going to change the world with these batteries.” Or, “There is a rare fish I heard about that I wanted to check out.” His natural curiosity is fueled by the world around him and by the wealth of information online. Not textbooks.

It makes me pause and wonder in a world where digital publishing is starting to make a huge footprint in media distribution, why aren’t more schools jumping on board? How long does it take to change direction in public education? 

Check out Physics in Motion by Fritz Lauriston. He is a physics teacher at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. He published his own iBook through our company, Score Publishing, and his students have adopted the text for his class. Not only is the book a fraction of the cost of their previous textbook,  but he tailored the book for his students and school. What a powerful way to impact his students’ learning experience with him. No more sore backs for those kids!

I am hopeful that with movements like #GoOpen, #OER, Ditch the Textbook Founder, Matt Miller, and tools like iBooks Author, educational leaders will see the light for these students. Stop making deals with big publishers. There are better ways to engage students and get rid of that monkey on their back. Use digital media that integrates up to date information, videos, and multi touch content. Let’s meet our kids where they are not where we’ve made the deal. Have a thought? Share it in the comments section!


Two Powerful Animation Tools for Your iBook Author Creations

This summer our company, Score Publishing, put on the iBooks Author Academy. We had a small but interesting group creating iBooks on a variety of topics.  Our participants consisted of a 15 year old students at Ensworth School, two University of Kentucky professors, and one Latin High School teacher. I want to share with you the story of our student participant.

This aspiring young artist wanted to create a comic book using her own illustrations. During our time together she expressed the desire to make animated video clips using her drawings to put into her book. She wanted the animations to include sounds, motions, and layered images. “This is going to be fun!” I thought.

We had to figure out the best tools for this job and luckily we had them! One tool was Tumult Hype 3. We downloaded the software onto her Mac and began by dropping in a background image that she had already created. The background also had one of her characters in the drawing and the character was going to be asking a question. She wanted to have a floating question mark moving up the page when the reader opened the page. So we added a simple question mark and used the tools inside of the Hype timeline to “move” the question mark.

Hype works in timelines and allows you to add in layers of images, text boxes, and buttons that you can apply physics laws to in order to have the animation work. It took me a couple of days to get the hang of using this program, but my artist student needed only one or two demonstrations before she got it.  Youth!!

Our next challenge was to take several images and put them into motion to create an animation. She had several drawings of a door at different angles closing. She wanted them to move in fast motion, think old fashion cartoon animations with the flipping pages.  She also wanted to have the sound of a bell being rung at the same time. So for this task we used the iPad app StopMotion.

She took a picture of each drawing in sequential order inside of StopMotion and tapped play. We exported the file out as a video and placed it inside of iBooks Author. Next, we imported the sound of a bell from Garageband and used the audio widget inside of iBooks Author to layer over the animation. It worked beautifully.

I can’t tell you how fun it was to facilitate the creation of this book for this young artist. It was a project she had long wanted to complete and she had most of her assets prepared before she came to our iBooks Author Academy. iBooks Author provided the platform for her creative expressions. She will hopefully be able to monetize her talents in the iBook Store very soon. Check back for a link to the published book to check it out.

In the meantime, if you are interested in animation creations for your iBooks, look no further than Hype 3 and or StopMotion. Do you have a different tool that you use?