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Preview: Comments on: Making iBooks vs. Making iBooks for Learning CS

Comments on: Making iBooks vs. Making iBooks for Learning CS

How do people understand computing, and how can we improve that understanding?

Last Build Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:03:55 +0000


By: The LaTeX of Interactive Publishing « Computing Education Blog

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 06:18:50 +0000

[...] we can make even more powerful interactive books. But how do we do it? How can we make it easier, more accessible, more scalable than cutting out [...]

By: Should anyone write an iBooks textbook? « Computing Education Blog

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 12:23:42 +0000

[...] essay is another take on Alfred Thompson’s comment in my blog post on iBooks Author — is it a good thing that iBooks Author makes it possible for anyone to write a textbook? [...]

By: Mark Guzdial

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:35:18 +0000

No -- LaTeX isn't good for specifying interpreters and simulations. A good ebook for teaching CS is not deliverable through mobi or ePub. LaTeX has lots of the right features, but it doesn't have the right features for creating a good CS ebook.

By: Tim

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:32:33 +0000

You want a LaTeX-to-ebook package that creates good-looking ebooks. My suggestion: use LyX to import your LaTeX document (actually, I'd write it in LyX to start with), then export to LyXHTML, then run this document through Sigil. Voila! An EPub! If you want a Mobi too, then run your EPub through Calibre.

By: donald

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:47:08 +0000

I don't have an iPad to try things on, and it seems the iBook Author environment won't run imbedded widgets. I'll likely have access to an iPad in a few days (traveling) and will let you know what I find.

By: Mark Guzdial

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 15:08:27 +0000

Can Lively Kernel run on an iPad? Last time I tried, it didn't, but it would be wonderful if it could. Agreed -- if the HTML5 clustering would allow us to drop in Lively Kernel or other large JavaScript-based programming environments, then iBooks Author would become much more attractive for CS Ed books.

By: donald

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 04:09:54 +0000

I haven't tried it out yet, but my first thought upon reading that the HTML5 cluster (including Javascript) is an option in iBooks Author was to drop Lively Kernel in a book and provide the programming environment on the page. Including an Amber environment with Active Essays in an iBook would be great. It will take a little poking to find the limits of any Javascript sandbox Apple built into the reader and understand just what can be shoehorned in. Even if imbedding these two live code environments don't pan out the ability to write Javascript interactions for engaging students has my attention. Anyone else interested in creating a libre collection of HTML5 widgets for educational texts?

By: Tony Hursh

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:43:48 +0000

The license is pretty bad; I'm expecting a modification or clarification from Apple very soon. In the meantime, you'd probably want write your content and create your graphics using other tools, then use iBooks Author only to format it for sale in the iBookstore (it doesn't look like they claim ownership of your text, only the "compiled" version generated by their software). I don't think I'd want to write directly in iBooks Author anyway; it's really more of a layout and formatting tool. It does let you link out to external websites (simulations, discussion forums, whatever). Not ideal, perhaps, but better than nothing. A LaTeX-to-ebook package that generated attractive output would be great, but the ones I've seen generate output that is incredibly ugly (an odd limitation, given how beautiful the printed output from LaTeX can be).

By: Jeff Rick

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 07:12:09 +0000

The thing that annoyed me is that there is no support for collaboration. A textbook is used in a classroom, which is generally composed of a set of students and a teacher. Given what we know about the benefits of collaborative learning, there are great ways to exploit that context. For instance, students could share notes with each other. The class in total could share text highlights. Answers could be aggregated across the class and sent to the teacher to provide feedback about which concepts are difficult. We, of course, need more research to establish what are useful forms of collaboration with / through textbooks in the classroom, but it would be nice to have a platform to test these things out. Sadly, iBooks is not that platform YET. We'll see how it evolves.

By: Alfred Thompson (@alfredtwo)

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 18:37:25 +0000

There are two issues at stake here. One is the technical solution and the second is the business model. Making the two work together is the hard part. The Apple business model seems to have been designed by people who either don't understand how schools work or who think that schools will buy anything if it comes from Apple. One of the flaws in the whole logic of some of what I've read about this program is that it makes it so "anyone can write one of these books." Clearly the people who say that have not written a textbook. Sure there is a shortage of tools to make interactive textbooks but that is hardly the hard part.