On Tuesday, November 15th, Victor and Aadi, two members of the Help Desk at Fox Hill, had the exciting opportunity to speak with Dan Amos from the United Kingdom via a Skype call. Dan is the creator of the hugely popular app Book Creator. Because of its versatility, Book Creator is one of the foundational apps used in Burlington Public Schools and is especially suitable for use at the elementary level. As Dan mentions during the conversation, students can use Book Creator to show what they know in virtually any subject area; whether it’s their understanding of a fiction or non-fiction book, a social studies lesson, or a math or science concept. Book Creator also allows students to demonstrate their creativity.
How Fox Hill Went Global with Book Creator
One of the goals of the Help Desk at Fox Hill; a new, academic enrichment program, is to train students and teachers on how to use our foundational apps. We are accomplishing this goal through creating educational technology instructional videos. Help Desk students have the freedom and flexibility to choose what features of our foundational apps they want to demonstrate in their tutorials. Victor and Aadhi recently created tutorials on how to add photos to a book in Book Creator and how to add text to a book in Book Creator. These tutorials were published on YouTube and embedded on the Help Desk at Fox Hill blog. Once published, a Tweet was sent out with links to the tutorials and the Book Creator team was mentioned in the Tweet. Shortly after that, Book Creator responded to the Tweet with, “Great work from the student Help Desk team!”
After receiving that tweet, I decided to ask if the Book Creator team would be interested in talking with the Help Desk students via a video call. A few direct messages and emails later, a Skype call was scheduled with Book Creator developer Dan Amos. I shared the exciting news with the entire Help Desk team and told Victor and Aadi that they would be the two students who would actually participate in the Skype call. The boys worked together to come up with 11 questions for Dan including:
- Where did the idea for Book Creator come from?
- How long did it take to make Book Creator?
- What were the steps taken to make Book Creator? (Dan explained the entire process of writing code with X Code and getting the app into the Apple App Store)
- Did the Book Creator team have to fix any mistakes when making the app?
- How many people helped to make Book Creator?
- How long did it take Book Creator to get popular worldwide?
- What device was Book Creator first designed for? (Dan shared a secret about the future of Book Creator…around 8:06 in the video below)
- When was Book Creator first released?
- What kind of college degree would someone need to earn if they wanted to work for Book Creator?
- Were you good at math?
- When did you get your college degree?
Dan asked Victor and Aadi a few questions during the call including what additional tools could be added to Book Creator and ways they could make the app more intuitive for users. The boys suggested adding more drawing tools and making the ability to delete objects, erase with the pen tool, and format text easier. Dan was geniueinly impressed with Victor and Aadi and encouraged them to continue to create training videos for users of Book Creator. You can watch the entire interview below:
The Benefits of Global Collaboration
As the 2016 ISTE standards for students state, using digital tools to collaborate globally gives students a broader perspective and an enriched learning experience. The Skype call with Dan Amos allowed Victor and Aadi to learn about app development from an expert in the field and the recording of the call will be shared with their entire class. It was definitely a learning experience that Aadi and Victor will remember for years to come. Below is a collaborative reflection on what Victor and Aadi learned as a result of the call with Dan Amos of Book Creator:
“The first thing we learned is that it took them approximately 3 months to create Book Creator. Those 3 months included fixing a lot of mistakes and listing lots of ideas on paper. The inspiration for creating Book Creator was the creator’ s son. The creator made the app because his son had dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition that makes it hard to read. So the creator made Book Creator to make it easier to read. The last thing we learned is that it took about a year to get worldwide. Now it is really popular with teachers and students in schools like ours. It was a really great experience to meet the maker of Book Creator and we learned a lot.”
-Aadi & Victor Help Desk at Fox Hill Team Members
It Started with a Tweet
It’s important to note that this learning opportunity came from a simple Tweet to the makers of Book Creator. Classroom teachers of all grade levels and subject areas can do the same in terms of reaching out to experts in the field via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and now even Instagram and inquire about connecting with their students. Many industry professionals (not just those in technology-related jobs) are willing and eager to talk with students about their area of expertise. So as you move forward this school year, please don’t hesitate to reach out the the Instructional Technology Specialist in your building and discuss how you could bring a global collaboration experience into your classroom.