E-MATE 2.0

Building Capacity for Interactive Teaching and Learning

Getting Started

Before starting to build an e-book in iBooks Author, it is well worth taking the time to plan and organize.  Following are a few tips based on the E-MATE team’s experiences building interactive e-books.

Make a map.

Mapping out content and the digital elements that will be used to help explain it is an important first step.  Often referred to as “storyboarding” this process can be done in many ways, depending on the way you think and work.  It doesn’t matter if you organize ideas and information using a spreadsheet, post-its on a wall, drawings on a whiteboard, or pencil and paper.  The important thing is to have a plan.



Get organized.

Before you start to build an e-book, take the time to organize your content text, images, movies, widgets, etc.  When working in iBooks Author, it is faster and easier to build as you go.

Test templates.

iBooks Author includes multiple e-book templates.  It is important to note; however, that once you begin building an e-book, the template cannot be changed.  Take the time to experiment with available templates or to build your own before you start to build.  Knowing what elements you need to include, where they need to go, and how users will interact with them is essential in selecting a template.

Add interactivity to enhance teaching and learning, not just because it is possible.

Strive to develop interactive widgets that support teaching and learning and try not to include widgets in your e-book only because they are “cool” or “new”.  As explained by the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) model, technology infusion that considers content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge can be powerful.  Visit http://tpack.org/ to learn more about TPACK.


Lessons Learned:

  • It is easy to move chapters and sections in iBooks Author, but not pages. 

  • The iBooks Author Image Gallery widget does not allow images to be resized, only masked, and works best with landscape images.  Portrait images are most often cut off, making this widget ineffective for such images.  The Book Widgets Frame Sequence widget is better suited for portrait images as it provides the option of including an entire image and keeping the aspect ratio.

  • It has proven more efficient to copy and paste text from an open Word document than to drag and drop it into iBooks Author.  This approach gives the instructional designer more control over hierarchy, etc.
  •  IiBooks Author templates cannot be changed after an e-book is created, so template testing and planning are essential.
  •  Tables and equations cannot be easily copied and pasted from Word to iBooks Author.  Some content and most formatting are lost.
    • The team found it worked well to input equations in a simple text document using LaTex and subsequently copy the LaTex equations into the "insert equation" editor in iBooks Author.
  •   It is best to work with a very simple Word document without multiple styles to minimize reformatting time in iBooks Author.
  •  YouTube video links are somewhat fluid and therefore cannot be counted on 100%.  The YouTube settings for several videos in Introduction to the Automated Warehouse were modified by the video originators to prevent embedding, which, in turn, prevented use of the YouTube or Web Embed widgets in Book Widgets.  These changes were made after work began on the e-book, so ongoing checks of any YouTube links are essential.
  •   It has worked well to number images rather than name them for both placement in e-books, inventory, and communication between content providers and E-MATE team members.
  •  Lock e-books in "Landscape" view in iBooks Author to prevent them from also being viewed in "Portrait" view.  This ensures that "page 24" will be the same for every student and instructor.


E-MATE 2.0: Building Capacity for Interactive Teaching and Learning, is a project supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE 1601612.

E-MATE, E-books and Mobile Apps for Technician Education, is a project supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE 1205113