After the two days off (snow days in October indeed), I’ll admit I was a bit off my game today, partly because the days off ended up staggering my English classes such that their assignments were now due on different days. So to get them back on track, I decided to explore iBooks with them a bit more today.

The assignment was (and this was playing catch-up too because of the days off) 1. to highlight a phrase / sentence / quote from each of the chapters due that represents the theme of that chapter and 2. to find three words whose definition was unknown and look them up. This of course was utilizing iBooks’ highlighting (in blue) capability. When you double tap a word in iBooks (and expand using the blue dots as necessary), you get a menu above that, among other things, includes ‘highlight’ and ‘dictionary’.

A few things that we discovered: you can’t highlight across pages; you have to do it as two separate highlights. More important, however, was a convenient way to navigate the book. One of the problems with using eBooks is how to (quite literally) all be on the same page. It is possible, however cumbersome, to set a font and set a font size to ensure that everyone is there, but oftentimes this seems more trouble than it’s worth, especially in a teacher-led discussion. But with students leading the discussion, and finding quotes on their own, the search function becomes especially useful for navigation. Students would read their quotes and I would type the first four or five words into the search field, which would (generally) take me right to the page, with those four or five words that I had typed in highlighted. This actually made navigating the eBook (almost) a palatable activity.

As an only marginally related side note, this was the first time that I projected the iPad with its new iOS 5 projector capabilities. I’m not entirely sure about this, but I think that iOS 5 now allows the iPad to be projected like a computer is projected, i.e. whatever is on the iPad is projected. This was not the case with (I think) pre-iOS 5 iPads (and maybe with the iPad 1) but the ability to project the iPad as it appears is very useful on a number of levels, but especially for tech support and for iBooks.