DIY for Teachers: Creating Educational Materials on the iPad

Whether an instructor is prepping 4-year-olds for the annual holiday concert or teaching Ph.D. candidates about fluid mechanics, all teachers create classroom materials for their students. Using an iPad to create these materials saves time, paper, and breaks our dependence on photocopiers and Kinkos, while it also encourages collaboration between instructors and helps teachers stay organized.

While some teachers may author an entire set of course materials, it’s likely that nearly every teacher either creates original supplementary materials or synthesizes a range of materials to use in the classroom. There are a wide range of iPad apps that help teachers create, save, and share materials easily.

Instructors who want to create materials on an iPad have several options. While these three apps all get do essentially the same thing, including edit text and add images and video, and save the end product as a PDF or ePub. However, each has its own bells and whistles that might help a teacher choose one over the other.

  • Book Creator for iPad ($4.99) We reviewed Book Creator (PadGadget = 4 stars) and found it very intuitive. It allows the user to choose from 50 different fonts and is a solid choice for general book creation.
  • Creative Book Builder ($3.99) allows the author to create a QR code, import terms from Quizlet and add tables as well as multiple choice questions. While it works well in a number of settings, Creative Book Builder is particularly well suited to creating educational materials.
  • Book Writer — eBook, PDF Creator ($3.99) not only does what its title describes, but also allows the user to record his own voice or add music to the book.

While the apps listed above can be used to create documents of any length, teachers may want to create and manage PDFs for shorter documents using productivity apps.

  • Notability (current sale price just $0.99) allows its user to create documents that blend handwriting, typing, images and audio. A user can save his notes as a PDF, as well as to annotate existing PDFs. Create notes on a variety of different paper (lined, graph, plain, colored). Auto-sync notes to Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or WebDAV.
  • Remarks ($4.99) lets the user write, draw and add text to documents. Users can annotate existing PDFs or save documents as a flattened PDF for viewing. After its most recent update users can now add sound to documents and sync with SkyDrive.
  • Pages for iOS ($9.99)  Though Apple native app is billed as a word processor, Pages create PDFs, ePubs or other documents. This universal app also allows the user to create charts and graphs, insert images easily, and make a polished final product.

PDF or ePub — how do I know which is best? According to Apple, most users will want to save text-centered work as an ePub and layout-centered work as a PDF.

Finally, anyone with a Mac can use Apple’s iBooks Author (Free). This Mac app is easy to use and was recently updated to improve accommodation of mathematical equations as well as to allow an to use his own fonts.

Are you a teacher? Do you use an iPad to create class room materials? Please share your best practices with us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Johann Larsson

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About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite

  • Brian Hanifin

    My son’s Chinese language teacher creates “read aloud” books (the audio is hosted on Podsnack while the book pages are hosted on Flipsnack). I have been working with her to combine the audio and pages from her books into ePub books. That way each page has an audio player embedded.

    The parents and students love that they can take their homework books on their iOS or Android devies without being tethered to WiFi. Right now it is a manual process, but I am mulling over creating a Mac app (or web app) to automate book creation.