Great Tools to Create Classroom Multimedia Magazines and Books

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May 28, 2014
Web 2.0 technologies have radically transformed the education landscape, shifting the concept of agency from the teacher and placing it in students hands. Leaners now are empowered with a variety of tools to connect, create, share, collaborate, and negotiate meaning making processes in ways never available before. Instead of merely consuming what others have produced, learners actively take part in the production of new insights and through the affordances of new technologies they can collaborate and crowdsource support on a global scale.

Image credit: Vancouver Film School

These new venues of learning have opened new communicational channels for students to use to access a larger audience. Their voice can now have a wider reach. It is this very idea of empowering students voice through the use of digital technologies that I want to draw your attention to in this post.  Providing students with a space where they can freely create, innovate and share their production is one of the best strategies to enhance their learning. One way to do this is through engaging students in the creation of multimedia magazines and books.

There are some useful web tools that you can use with your students to create a classroom magazine or books and the titles below are the ones I would recommend the most. The purpose behind using these tools with your students is twofold: First they provide them with a virtual space where they can create, share and  document their learning and showcase their work. Second  they offer them an opportunity to exercise their functional literacy and employ their digital literacy skills to make meaning using  a system of multimodal signs that comprise, text, graphics, pictures, charts, and videos.

1- iBooks Author

iBooks Author is a wonderful app that students can use to create gorgeous multitouch magazines and books . iBooks Author's  authoring features can not be beaten by any other free app out there. It provides some excellent ready-made Apple templates to help your book or magazine look professional. You can customize the look and feel of your template to match your design needs. iBooks Author also allows you to type directly into your book or simply drag and drop text from your word document.The layout of your book is automatically formatted as you add more pages to it. You can easily add photos, graphics and videos to your book and if you want to make it alive you can even add dynamic multitouch elements called widgets to expand  your story. When you are ready to publish your magazine you can export it in a variety of formats including PDF and Text. You can also submit it to the iBooks store or even share it on the iTunes U.

Using iBooks Author with students does require some extended training before students can feel comfortable using it. To this end I would propose this series of video tutorials that explain the whole process of creating iBooks from start to finish.

2- Glogster Edu

Glogster Edu is ideal for creating a one page magazine or an interactive graphic where students can use a set of multimedia materials including pictures, hyperlinked text, audio and videos. Glogs provide learners with  a number of templates and a neat canvas to mix text, graphics, audio and video and create a stunning one page magazine that can be shared with others through emails, social media websites or be embedded on classroom website or blog. Glogster Edu is not free but it does offer  some reasonable prices for teachers depending on the number of students they have.

3- Lucidpress
The great thing about Lucidpress is that it allows users to collaboratively create multimedia magazines using the same collaboration concept found on Google Docs. It supports synchronous chat between different collaborators and provides a wide variety of features that make creating multimedia documents as simple as drag and drop. Working in small groups, students can use Lucipress to create their own customizable multimedia magazine using text, audio and videos. They can also import files and documents from their Google Drive and use it on Lucidpress documents. Watch the video below to see Lucidpress in action.

4- Widbook
Widbook is another great tool I have tried with my students in the past and found it really great. Widbook allows users to create awesome books using text, audio and videos. The feature I like the most about this tool is the collaboration part of it. Students can invite each other to collaborate together to finish their books or to provide comments on them. Widbook is completely free but it does require a sign-up using a valid email. Watch the video below to learn more about Widbook.

5- Glossi
Glossi is a rich digital magazine that students can make and share with others. Glossi provides different forms of magazine templates to choose from. Each of these templates can be easily customized using text, images and videos. Glossi also allows for the use of animated pictures and different backgrounds. Here is a video explanation of what you can do with Glossi.