Who is the Social Books Creator for?
Social Books Creator is freely available for teachers and educators who want to use and to make experience of a digital tool aimed at promoting inclusion.
It can not be strictly identified as a digital tool or as an assistive technology, developed only for a particular target group of learners, even if it has been designed moving by the necessity to be adequate for learners with mild intellectual disability, as indicated in the introduction of All-In Teacher Kit.
But thanks to its characteristics and features, SBC fits the variety of educational needs and allows teachers and educators to work with it despite the heterogeneous composition of a common class.
Social Books Creator is a teaching and learning methodology, grounded into a pedagogical framework that puts together cooperative learning practices with digital competences in order to achieve more inclusive and significant learning results.
This framework is highly responsive to the time of digital innovation and it refers to those learning theories focused on the use of web applications for teaching
and learning purposes.
Behind the idea of All-In Social Book there is the conviction that learning context, both formal and informal, must provide an educational offer dealing with the interconnected dimension of individuals.
We learn better when we learn together in a collaborative community where each one supports and boosts others.
Diversifying educational tools and methodologies is a way to answer the need of universal design for learning, which enables the expression of the variety of learners’ ways of learning.
To access Social Books Creator, registration is compulsory. A valid email address and a chosen password are needed.
How does the Social Books Creator work?
SBC presents two main working areas:
1) An online repository of digital textbooks highly accessible, named Social Books Cooperative Press. Social Books Cooperative press is an online library that contains digital contents categorized by users with tags. The content can be filtered by topic, author, date and accessibility editorial features. Being
able to order the results of a research on the basis of the accessibility degree means that you can select only the documents with conceptual maps, that is to say, only the documents created for cognitive disabilities.
2) An online ebooks editor for the cooperative creation of open and accessible digital contents, named Social Books Editor.
With Social Books Editor, the users have the possibility to adapt the interface according to their cognitive style using a given template. But they can also be guided with instruction or tutorial in defining a personalized format for their ebooks. The accessibility of the editor is also guaranteed by the integration of digital compensatory tools, such as a software for conceptual maps.
Social Books editor is optimized to create digital textbooks, available on most devices, with particular attention to mobile devices and eReaders, more common among learners.
All the features and the activities that you can perform with Social Books Creator are described in detail in the Handbook available inside the webapp.
SBC provides an ebooks’ sharing system, with an indefinite number of collaborators. The editor and the repository are available in the five communitarian languages of the partner countries: Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Romanian, German, plus English.
EXAMPLES OF ACTIVITIES WITH SOCIAL BOOKS CREATOR:
Two remarks before starting with the description of the possible individual and collaborative uses of SBC: these examples do not exhaust the range of uses that the web app offers.
They have to be considered as prompts and tips for an initial approach to a new tool, confirming the operational nature of All-In Teacher Kit.
It is recommended to read all the options and then make a decision on which to handle since some sequences of operations are in common or can be implemented with every activity.
The first two activities do not require the involvement of learners; they are thought of as preliminary work that teachers conduct outside the classroom, but the results of these activities should be addressed to their learners.
The planning of the duration of the activities is not easy to predict: in all the cases, it depends on the extension of the topic/s teachers decide to deal with. For instance, the third activity can cover the entire duration of the scholastic year if the teacher wants to construct with his/her learners the contents of the taught disciplinary curriculum.
In this case, the creation of a Social Book becomes a continuous work in progress to complete at the end of the scholastic year, as a result of annual collaborative work. On the other side, a Social Book can contain a quota of arguments concerning a specific portion of the disciplinary curriculum. It is up to teachers to plan, organize and adapt the extension of the topics.
The new published Social Books will be at the disposal of the entire scholastic community and to all the users belonging to the Social Books Creator community.
Concerning the assessment of the activities implemented with learners, the main references are the areas included in the Digcomp 2.1 document (See assessment section).
Each activity is described in details, including:
1. Suites best for:
indicates direct and indirect target groups which the activity is recommended for; may also indicate which level of school the activity is suggested for;
tools, materials interactions with specific professionals needed to implement the method as in the example;
indication to teachers for the implementation of the activity. In this section, instructions are directly addressed to teachers.
Activity 1: The teacher writes alone.
is the less structured one because it consists of writing a digital textbook conceived by the teacher as more adequate to the characteristics of the class and more suitable for his/her idea of the development of disciplinary contents.
ACTIVITY 1: “THE BOOK I WOULD LIKE…”
Suites best for
This activity can be performed by teachers of every order and level, both general and support teachers, individually, without disciplinary restrictions. The indirect target group are the learners o the class, once the editing of the digital textbook has been completed.
Digital devices (notebook, tablet or smartphone), internet connection.
For this activity consulting with a support teacher is recommended, if s/he occurs to be in the teachers’ group of the class, to adopt the adequate compensatory measures addressed to learners with SEN.
Phase 1: Project
Identify a topic or a set of topics and project on how to develop them inside Social Books Creator. In this phase, it is important to consider the composition of the class, in order to choose an appropriate layout for the eBooks.
Hypothesis: In the class, there are 22 learners, one of them has a mild intellectual disability, 2 have severe learning disabilities and 4 learners with a migration background, therefore their knowledge of the official language is quite poor.
Given this situation, plan which content and graphic measures are necessary to get an accessible and inclusive eBooks. You may probably favor frequent visual references rather than a continuous flow of written text. Brief paragraphs interspersed with pictures or videos imported from the web or uploaded from a local repository.
At this stage, you can also define the general settings (UI contrast and the typographical style both for the cover and for the internal text).
Phase 2: Research
Once you have foreseen the general settings and a draft of the ebook layout , you can start the research. By this time, the efforts will be directed to the selection of multimedia and written resources, digital or printed. Pay attention and keep in mind the characteristics of the class
mentioned above and collect the study materials to insert into the ebook.
Phase 3: Organisation and structure
After this selection and collection, organize different study materials and transform them into an organic composition. Valid support is offered by two instruments internal to SBC. If you already have a clear idea of the sequence of the topics, you can primarily build the chapters and subchapters structure and then transpose the development of each argument in a conceptual map at the beginning of each chapter, but in the Editor section. This map has two important functions: it will
support you in the process of creation (like a sort of individual brainstorming), but it will be also very useful for learners. A scheme or a conceptual map at the beginning of a text has the function of what in education is called “advance organizer”, a didactic mediator that prepares learners attention and
activates their previous knowledge, enhancing their involvement and interest.
Phase 4: Writing
It’s time to write, compose and insert multimedia external contents. Easy to describe, but this will be probably the step that will take an important part of your time. Teacher, don’t care about it! You will be surely rewarded by the enthusiasm of your learners.
Phase 5: Presentation
The presentation of the final version of the ebook to the class has to be considered an integral part of the process of creation and it is an opportunity of discussion with your learners.
Activity 2: The teacher creates a group with other teachers.
involves, at least at the beginning, only teachers of specific subjects, but it can also be redesigned as collaborative writing among teachers of different subjects, in order to plan an interdisciplinary unit.
ACTIVITY 2: “KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES”
Suites best for
This activity can be performed by teachers of every order and level, both general and support teachers, without disciplinary restrictions. The indirect target group are the learners of the class, once the editing of the digital textbook has been completed.
Digital devices (notebook, tablet or smartphone), internet connection.
For this activity is also required a mutual collaboration between general and support teachers in order to identify the necessary measures to design an inclusive Social Book.
Phase 1: Topic and goals
Teachers identify a general topic and focus on possible interdisciplinary connections. They also figure
out the goals of the unit.
Example: The chosen subjects are Maths and Literature. The general argument is an overview of the
uses of geometrical metaphors in medieval literature.
Phase 2: Co-design
Teachers map out contents distribution, a draft of the layout and plan a structure of the interdisciplinary unit. Pay particular attention to the co-design of the contents and layout in accordance with support teacher indication.
Phase 3: Research and sharing
Both of you (subject and support teachers) start the research and select the audio-visual materials, links and other reading materials. You can share these results in a folder in a cloud service (Drive, Dropbox, iCloud…).
Phase 4: Compare and project
At the end of the materials’ collection and selection, begin the assembly operations: compare the resources, define your priority and order and project a logical sequence of the connections among subjects. As in Activity 1, you can take advantage of SBC features, such as chapters structure and conceptual maps.
Phase 5: Writing
It’s time to write, compose and insert multimedia external contents. Easy to describe, but this will be probably the step that will take an important part of the teachers’ time.
Noteworthy: collaborative writing requires the creation of a group on Social Books Creator by one of the teachers involved. During the writing step, if a member of the group wants to make modifications to the collaborative digital textbook, these modifications have to be approved by the group owner
until they become final. The group owner will be notified with the proposed changes and from this moment on co-authors can discuss and confront each other to reach a shared solution that finally has to be approved by the group owner. It is supposed that this work of mediation is held outside the
WebApp and using other channels (emails, chat, debates).
Phase 6: Presentation
The presentation of the final version of the ebook to the class has to be considered an integral part of the process of creation and it is an opportunity of discussion among teachers and learners. It could be useful to forecast the first lesson in co-presence during which the team of teachers who have worked for the realization of the Social Book introduce to the class the reasons and objectives of the interdisciplinary unit.
Activity 3: The teacher creates a group with the learners of the class.
can be considered the maximum expression of the SBC potentiality as a proper methodology. In this form of collaborative writing, the teacher changes his/her role to a mediator of knowledge and to a coordinator of collective research and creation.
ACTIVITY 3: WE CAN BE AUTHORS!
Suites best for
This activity can be performed by teachers (general and support teachers, without disciplinary restrictions) and learners of lower and upper secondary school.
Digital devices (notebook, tablet or smartphone), internet connection. One device per learner or, if the activity will be implemented in small groups, one device per group for the tasks to perform in class.
This activity will take a longer time for the preparation than the others, according to the extension of the topic to be covered.
Phase 1: Topic and goals
In the first step choose with your learners the topic of the Social Books (it could be the entire program of the subject taught, or only a few disciplinary modules). Provide some possible alternatives to the class or illustrate a previously established topic; then, decide together with learners which are the
final goals of the activity.
Phase 2: Divide learners in groups
After the choice of the topic, divide learners into small groups. The criterion of the distribution in group can be based on the learners’ learning style: for instance, one group will search images files and videos, another group will focus on written resources and so on. The research of materials can be carried out in class or at home by learners, it depends on the level of learners’ autonomy and, consequently, on their age. If there is the case, learners accompanied by a support teacher will work in class inside their group. The materials collected can be shared in a folder in a cloud service (Drive, Dropbox, iCloud…)
Phase 3: Materials’ selection
Once collected all the materials in class make a selection of what to keep and then transpose in the Social Books with your learners. In this phase (or at phase 2) it is also recommended to introduce a discussion about the licenses of contents downloaded from the web and their possible reutilization or modification.
Noteworthy: It is highly recommended that the you have already dealt with the learners on the research topic of contents on the web: in particular learners must be able to use adequate research channels, distinguish a scientifically valid document from a less one, operate a critical selection of the items provided by a common browser and so on. Otherwise, if they are not, you are in charge of making accessible contents that are already filtered.
Phase 4: Project and structure
At the end of the materials’ selection, begin the assembly operations with your learners: define their priority and order, project an accessible sequence of the connections among the materials, hypothesize an index of arguments. As in Activity 1, you can take advantage of SBC features, such as chapters structure and conceptual maps.
Phase 5: Writing
It’s time to write, compose and insert multimedia external contents. It still occurs in the division in groups, but not necessarily based on the same criterion of the one used during phase 2. Create the “group of authors” and invite your learners to attend it.
Each group has to be assigned a chapter or a subchapter and then they start working in autonomy on the development of their part, with the supervision of the general teacher and support teacher (if there is one).
If a member of the group wants to make modifications to the collaborative digital textbook, these modifications have to be approved by the group owner until they become final. The group owner will be notified with the proposed changes and from this moment on co-authors can discuss and confront each other to reach a shared solution that finally has to be approved by the group owner. It is supposed that this work of mediation is held outside SBC and using other channels (emails, chat, debates in the classroom).
It could be interesting for you to observe and to assess the ability of your learners in managing collaborative writing, which is an example of cooperative learning.
Phase 6: Presentation
The presentation of the final version of the ebook to the class has to be considered as an integral part of the process of creation and it is an opportunity of discussion among learners and with you.