Classroom ideas

5 Tools to take your iBooks to the next level

One of my favourite tasks last year was to help teachers create iBooks. I use iBooks Author and associated third party applications frequently, but sometimes it isn’t always what is needed for the task at hand. I often remind teachers that there are plenty of ways to create content! and sometimes we only need quick and simple tools to create materials.


My current top 5 favourite picks are:

Thinglink:To annotate an image with interactive tags. Provides a unique weblink that you can embed in an iBook, LMS, etc. Here’s one on “Historic Buildings of Claremont” I created recently for an iBook.

Canva: Create posters, presentations, graphics and more. Allows you to download or even share with other Canva users to edit too.

Piktochart: Most popular for creating infographics, but also allows you to create posters and presentations. Easy to download or share your creations using a link.

Skitch: Annotate images easy using this tool. Features such as the integration of Google Maps makes it a simple tool to use! Also works in tandem with Evernote.

Marqueed: Another great option to annotate and draw on images.


Other tools I have been using recently include Prezi and Emaze, but please use the animations with caution if you have students that are likely to get motion sickness! It is also important to mention that you may want to use some of the existing applications you may already have, but in a different way. Why not use Keynote to create an infographic, poster or animation?


These tools give many options for sharing, whether it is a download or a unique link. As I have been creating digital content everyday, I have really tried to ensure that there is diversity as it is easy to fall into the trap of using the same tools, which make the work all look too similar. It is also easy to insert these into the iBooks I have been creating to make them look a little more interesting. It’s important to keep exploring and trying new tools to ensure we are using the best for task at hand with our students.

Classroom ICT PD

Where did that come from?

We ask our students to reference information from print text, online text, magazines, videos and so on, from such an early age. But when was the last time you asked your students to reference an image? Should they? The simple answer:



Usage Rights

There are plenty of tools available for referencing images and many usage types for images. Students can use search tools within Google to refine what usage rights an image has. It is very interesting to have a discussion with students on ‘usage rights’ and what they think it means- you will be surprised at what a clear understanding they develop. Awareness is really the key here.

You’re probably wondering about the term usage rights? So let’s break it down like this, there are 4 main usage types:

  1. Contracting for service directly
  2. Rights Managed
  3. Royalty Free
  4. Creative Commons

Each one has limitations and restrictions based ownership, costs and attribution that are detailed in the license for the image. Learn more about these types at

So once students know and understand they cannot simply take images from the internet without acknowledging where it is from, it becomes the question of what to do next…

What to do next

There are 3 paths you can take with this and help students develop solid skills and processes moving forward.

1. Teach students how to reference images and use captions properly.

Well really, we should be doing this anyway. To make this work you will need to think of the following, What’s your school’s standard referencing system? Does it include images? How do we make it consistent across the school?

2. Get around it by encouraging students to take their own photos? Or create their own images?

Excellent way to make sure the image is relevant and build their skills in developing media. Honestly the best outcomes solution, it means your students can publish their work independently too. Though it does take more time and effort which might be hard to find in your classroom. There is also the question around quality, but you’ll probably be surprised by how good some of the hidden diamonds in your classes actually are.

3. Use attribution free images.

What’s this?

Does not require you to attribute its creator

Similar to Creative Commons Zero, it is basically images that you can use for free, for any purpose, including commercially without having to say where it comes from. Most attribution free will have caveats about not being used in vilification, pornography or being represented as someone else’s work. I use Gratisography, Life of Pix, and freestocks to name just a few and I encourage my students to explore these too.

More info

If you would like to know more about the licenses surrounding images in Australia, try Creative Commons, really helpful information to help understand it better.

Have a look through our blog posts, you will notice many of the images are from Gratisography!