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LumiBook Interactive eBook Used To Train Teachers

New eBook format LumiBook, created by the School Improvement Network, incorporates video and social media. Are kids' textbooks next?

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Heidi Hayes Jacobs is an expert on mapping curriculum to educational standards, a popular specialty at a time when many K-12 school systems are migrating to the Common Core Standards for educational progress. However, Jacobs' latest book is not available in hardcover or on the Kindle. Instead, Mapping to the Core was published as a LumiBook, an interactive e-book format that incorporates video and elements of social media.

Developed by the School Improvement Network, the LumiBook e-book reader was created specifically for teacher professional development, although Jacobs sees it possibly finding its way into the classroom as well.

"I don't think of LumiBook as a format just for curriculum writing -- it's a really great format for writing all kinds of books," said Jacobs.

At a time when teachers are being challenged to develop their digital literacy -- and challenged in so many other ways -- Jacobs thought it particularly made sense to deliver her books on curriculum development in a 21st century format. In fact, it strikes her as odd that at a time when media and business have changed so much, textbooks seem rooted in the past.

[ Are kids' personal school data at risk? Read NY Times Calls Out Edmodo On Security. ]

"Even e-books struck me as quite limited. What I think we need is a way to merge more social media type interaction with books -- not only through hyperlinks but live types of communication," Jacobs said. She partnered with School Improvement Network to develop something that would be a match for that vision.

So far, the e-book format has been used for a handful of other educational publications, including updated Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards for teaching and learning progression.

Teachers who read a book in this format can not only annotate passages, as they might with other e-book readers, but engage in discussions about the text with their colleagues or with teachers elsewhere. Embedded video also makes LumiBooks more powerful for training, which is one reason School Improvement Network decided the world needed "yet another e-book format," CEO Chet Linton said. "There wasn't anything that truly integrated video the way it could be integrated."

The social media aspects of the format are meant to encourage "book studies" among teachers who are working together to decide how to best implement new curriculum or professional practices, Linton said. Founded in 1991 by former teachers, School Improvement Network researches best practices and supports professional development with publications and software.

Although the format is being used for teaching teachers, that might not be the end of its potential. "I think this is a format that should be used with students," Jacobs said. "I think they would do well not just to have e-books available but much, much more interactive texts."

For now, Linton said he is not in the business of publishing textbooks for students and will concentrate on making the format a success with teachers. One early win was the decision by the State of Kentucky, an early adopter of the Common Core Standards, to license Jacobs' Mapping to the Core for use by teachers across the state.

Jacobs said one of the other things that excites her about the LumiBook format is that it is not static, meaning it can adapt to things like the emergence of additional assessments. "I've never been able to do this before, but I can change the master book, and everyone's book will change. That's very exciting to me as an author," she said.

Jacobs said she considered adapting Mapping to the Core into a traditional paper book, except that removing all the interactive features would be too painful. "What would be the point?" she asked.

Follow David F. Carr at @davidfcarr or Google+, along with @IWKEducation.

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