One of the roles of a tech integration specialist to is to explore new technologies and how they might play a role in education. When I started in this field it was how to use word, excel, powerpoint, and video. We talked about how to share work with each other by passing around floppy disks. We could create web pages but nothing was download and upload-able.
A mere 10 years later I help teachers sort through the overwhelming number of options. The tools to create content are too numbers to list. You can’t find a computer that can read a floppy disk. We share content in course management systems, wikis, blogs, dropbox and pass around the flash drive. We can upload and download almost anything. More then ever we need to consider what type of device the content will be accessed; computer, phone, iPod, iPad or eReader.
This brings me to the question, what format(s) should teachers use when making documents available to students? The goal is to provide a format accessible to most students. My first thought would be .doc and pdf. But students are tending to use more mobile devices that full fledged computers. Textbooks in eBook format are still in development and not yet in K-12 education, but they are on the way. Should teachers begin to share their documents in an eBook ready format such as ePub or MOBI? PDFs can be read by most readers but since it is an image of the document font size can not be changed and it may be a challenge to read. ePub and Mobi are more widely acceptable and ePub on some devices can be an interactive document with links and embed video.
I need to experiment a while and will practice creating documents in a variety of formats to find the right tools for creating eBook formats. I also need to practice getting the files on to a variety of devices. As a tech integration specialist you need to plan ahead and also model how the tools can be used. I’ll start by updating many of my teaching documents into multiple formats and make them available for download.
What formats to you use when sharing with students or fellow teachers?
What formats do you think you will be using in the next 5 years?