Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

171 Pressbooks – 04.11.2019

Pressbooks is a WordPress-based platform used to create, share and publish etexts that can integrate H5P and other interactive elements. At the April 11, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, 15 participants explored the potential of Pressbooks for creating resources more expansive and relevant than a digital textbook. Pressbooks veterans and novices discussed questions, experiences, examples, and getting starting with this campus-supported etext authoring tool.


  • Analyze existing Pressbooks from various fields to get ideas for what may or may not work well for your purposes. This beginning Portuguese text, Português para principiantesis a media-rich resource out of UW-Madison. It’s also the most popular Pressbook on our instance, with 126,956 page views and counting since August 2016!
  • Involve students in the resource development process. For a recent example of a student-created resource at UW, try What’s In a Jug? Art, Technology, Culture (with Ann Smart Martin and Ellen Faletti).
  • For quality assurance, request a Canvas Sandbox for your Pressbook, and set other faculty or staff members as students to view the student perspective. Note that a Pressbook can be embedded in a Canvas page via a thin common cartridge.
  • Take advantage of a Pressbook’s capacity to provide multiple means of engaging with content, such as providing a web text, a pdf export, and an ePub exporter. Doing so allows for more inclusive access options. For example, if a student found it useful to read a text that uses the OpenDyslexic Chrome font plugin, they would be able to do so by navigating to the web version and clicking on their OpenDyslexic browser extension. (This is not as simple a thing to achieve if students only have access to a PDF copy.)
  • Use Pressbooks as more than simply digital textbooks. Pressbooks supports a annotation layer plugin that allows students to write public or private group notes about their readings. You can also embed H5P activities within annotations. Check out an example of an H5P activity embedded within a annotation. (Click the yellow highlighting to see the annotation activity.)
  • Build your Pressbooks skills and stay up-to-date on new developments:

For more information on Pressbooks, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

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Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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