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Techno-Tools for the classroom | Making student materials with Pressbooks

Published:Friday | July 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMGen Clacken

In 1440, when Gutenberg invented the printing press, the door to knowledge was flung wide open and the 'book', as they knew it then, was never the same again.

Today, e-books are further revolutionising how content is presented in the classroom. Publishing houses have many online options in supplementing the traditional texts they produce, and a growing number of them are targeting students who want to access their books and other resources online.

Teachers, too, can ride this inventive wave by utilising free e-book software such as Pressbooks to convert subject-related notes and other original materials into more accessible, more flexible, and more engaging learning resources. As the summer vacation begins and the planning for the new school year starts, teachers can find a valuable self-authoring tool in Pressbooks.




This technology has been developed by Hugh McGuire from Montreal, Canada, to allow anyone to create and publish printed and digitised books. Pressbooks is easy to use, open-source content authoring software hosted on the Internet, targetting authors, publisherss and educators.

The software allows anyone to take the content he already has and present it in printed book format or in a format that is readable on hand-held and mobile devices and on personal computers. Writers can also share content on learning management systems like Blackboard or Moodle.




A product of WordPress (the blogging tool), Pressbooks is easily accessible. Simply navigate to and register to have your own personal account. You will need to verify your registration through an active personal email account, but once that is done, you are able to begin your authoring.

Like WordPress, Pressbooks can be accessed free of cost though the free version comes with a watermark branding on your finished product.

You can also access premium services ranging from US$19 US$99. Premium services, among other things, attract no watermark and afford you 250MB of storage space on the Pressbooks servers.




To use Pressbooks, you copy your content from formats such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and paste it into the platform as desired. Pressbooks allows you to organise your content into chapters and facilitates the integration of image and video content stored in your own Pressbooks profile.

The platform carries an easy-to-use dashboard that helps you to organise your content and share it with others and it also allows your readers to share comments with you or to ask questions after reading your book or parts of it. The editable version of your book can also be shared with others, to make the creation a collaborative activity. Pressbooks is easy to use and is very similar in layout to WordPress.




Research indicates that while students do not generally find e-books easier to understand than traditional texts, many of them do find e-books to be more engaging. Pressbooks allows for this kind of engagement through the use of images, videos, active hyperlinks, and feedback opportunities.

You can use the 25 megabytes given in the free version to digitise notes and other original materials used in the classes. Pressbooks makes it easier to share content with others and is easily editable.

The software can be used to breathe new media-rich life into indigenous materials such as manuals, study guides, handouts, and other printables. It can also be used to capture original work done by students so that such work can be shared with other groups and cohorts. Students can also use it to create their own materials for presentation.

Pressbooks, and other similar software are the next phase in the evolution of the book, and educators would do well to check it out.




- Tool: Pressbooks

- Classification: Content Authoring Tool

- Location:

- Classroom Application: content enrichment, content sharing, collaboration, engagement, cost: free US$99.