Thursday, November 12, 2015

Creating Web-Enhanced Books: Paper Towns and Number the Stars

In my San Jose State University INFO 237 "School Library Media Materials" course, I have been working on a digital curation project, and this has resulted in me developing what I am calling: web-enhanced books.
The Assignment In a Nutshell: Find digital visual sources - including videos, maps, and information graphics - to support two books. Create QR codes for the resources that can be attached to the books.
When tackling this project, I wanted to create a project that I can imagine students utilizing in my current library. For this reason, I chose to focus on two books from my Subject Area Blog Book Review series that I think they might most likely read: Paper Towns and Number the Stars. My next challenge was to consider how students might realistically use the QR codes. While I have seen people post QR codes on displays, I have never seen anyone actually scan them. With this in mind, my assumption is that students might be more likely to use the QR codes if they use them within a context of having more time. This is what got me thinking about finding a way for students to use the codes when they check out a book. Besides having more time, they will also be more invested interest-wise in following the links.

Another key factor that shaped my approach to presenting the QR codes was my selection of Paper Towns. Since the book is an unfolding mystery, I wanted to find a way for students to use the QR codes as the story progressed rather than simply at the beginning or at the very end. In order for this to work, I came up with a system of adding sticky page markers to the print book that serve as alerts to the reader.

When encountering a page marker, the reader will know that there is QR code to scan for this section of the text. Corresponding QR codes, created using a QR Code Generator, may be compiled on a laminated card that comes with the book and that students may use as a bookmark. Another feature that I added is inclusion of shortened URLs that may be used instead since not all users may be able or want to use QR codes. To shorten URLs, I used Bitly since it allows for customizing links so that they are easier to type.

The QR Code Bookmark Cards may be printed back-to-back, cut to the size 5” x 9”, and then laminated. When the book is on display, the card can be slipped inside the front cover of the book so that the label on the top of the card is visible: “THIS BOOK IS WEB-ENHANCED.” So far, I have showed a few students these books, and one commented: “I wish all books had this!” She is now planning to read the web-enhanced version of Paper Towns.

While I think and hope that students may enjoy reading these web-enhanced books, I also believe that there is great potential for students to design their own web-enhanced experiences as readers that may then be shared with others. These two books will hopefully serve as samples for this type of assignment, which would be a great alternative to the traditional book report since curating the resources requires close attention to and interaction with the text.

Below are links to the web-enhancing QR code cards for Paper Towns and Number the Stars. Please feel free to use, adapt, and share.