Product review: LiveBook and LivePlanner

Product review: LiveBook and LivePlanner

By MaryAnn Karre

Retail Price: Mapping to the Core: LiveBook- $34.95

Mapping to the Core: LivePlanner - $194.95 (LivePlanner includes full access to its accompany LiveBook)

LiveBook 360 by School Improvement Network is a multimedia learning experience that combines author interaction and content updates, webinars, links to Web sites, video, audio, polls, downloadable content, notes, and forums with the author's text. LivePlanner is an ebook that provides users with application, implementation, and practical use exercises that they can apply to the theory found in LiveBook. The first two books being published on the LiveBook platformare Mapping to the Core: LiveBook with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and Mapping to the Core: LivePlanner by Heidi Hays Jacobs, with Dr. Debbie Sullivan, Dr. Ann Johnson, and Dr. Marie Alcock.

Quality and Effectiveness
A LiveBook is so much more than a standard ebook. Any high-quality text by an internationally recognized expert is impressive, but when that text grows and changes, and can be supplemented and augmented by the author and the readers, it becomes a learning and teaching tool that is far more effective than the digitalization of a printed text.

Authors have the opportunity to pair their LiveBook content with a companion “LivePlanner,” as seen in Dr. Jacobs’s work. For example, Dr. Jacob’s Mapping to the Core: LivePlanner provides step-by-step guidance, examples, and templates to help the participants translate the LiveBook content to a working curriculum product. While the LiveBook presents theory and builds comprehension, Mapping to the Core: LivePlanner focuses on implementation, creation, and hands-on experiences for the community of learners.

Ease of Use
A LiveBook is as easy to read as an ebook, but because it is in electronic format, it is also an interactive tool. Icons that float with the text by using a mouse-over feature allow the reader to contribute, share in discussions, and build their knowledge. Icons occasionally embedded within the text and in the margins link to documents, templates, videos, Power Point presentations, and outside links that supplement the text and assist the reader with the planning process.

Creative Use of Technology
Because the LiveBook 360 platform is cloud-based, the latest author updates and content can be available every time it is opened without downloads or repurchases. Participants can collaborate with each other and share multimedia additions and links to other sites. These additional elements can supplement the text and show examples that can be demonstrated in a video or a slideshow for clarification. The book becomes a host site, allowing users to take part in polls, surveys and forums; add and upload artifacts and download tools; take notes; and bookmark sections for review. These features cannot be accessed without using Flash, therefore the LiveBooks are not readable on iPads (NOTE: full iPad compatibility will be available in Fall 2012) and do not include the read-aloud option. The font cannot be enlarged at this time, and attempting to do so merely moves the image to the left. To maintain the text’s integrity, it cannot be copied and pasted to another document. This is, however, the first title in the projected series, and these details are under development for future releases.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment
School Improvement Network created the LiveBook 360 platform specifically for teachers and administrators. Each book hosts its own community. Users and authors can designate forums dedicated to one section of the text and generate focus groups within the community.

OVERALL RATING

LiveBook 360 has morphed ebooks from static, individual tools to high-quality, interactive professional learning communities.

Top features:

  • LiveBook learning grows and improves as more users become part of the LiveBook community and as more titles are added.
  • Because it is online, this professional development opportunity is accessible from any Internet-based computer.
  • LiveBook 360 provides a platform with the same interaction and features as a personal workshop. Educators can participate in forums and collaborate with peers as they turn the theory in LiveBook into practice with step-by-step instructions and customizable tools.

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