As Publisher for Laridian I use BookBuilder Professional almost every working day. As a personal user I use it most work days and often both weekend days as well. Between the two, hardly a day goes by that I’m not working on BookBuilder source code or using the BookBuilder program.
During the week I’m often working on the next PocketBible or MyBible book that we are releasing. I often spend several weeks to several months on one book. We do have other people who help us tag books, but even after they’re done with them it’s my responsibility to make sure the book works the way we expect it to.
So you might think that when Friday comes the last thing I want to do is work on yet another book. You’d be wrong.
My alter ego is a teacher for the college and career Sunday school class at our church. Right now we’re going through the book of Revelation. In June we finished going through the book of Genesis.
Having access to the tools that I use for work allows me to use those same technologies for the Sunday school class. All of my notes, discussion questions and handouts are converted from Word to PDF. The PDF files are posted on the class web site so that if one of the members of our class misses a week they can easily download the notes and stay caught up. Since a number of the class members carry PDAs and use Laridian software I also convert the notes into PocketBible and MyBible reference titles. Those files are also posted on the class web site for download.
Here’s how I go about preparing my lessons. (I know that most of you probably already do similar things when preparing a lesson, so I’m not going to focus so much on the mechanics of actually preparing a lesson as much as on how I use technology to bring it all together.)
I read through the passage for the next class several times in different translations. Having PocketBible on my HP hx2750 makes this easy to do wherever I am…my son’s soccer game, my daughter’s volleyball game, in the line at Subway, in the car line at the kids’ school, in bed when I can’t sleep at 4:00 am, you get the picture. With PocketBible 3 having the ability to highlight and add notes is a huge benefit. My copy of Revelation on my PocketPC is already hugely marked up (and we’re still only on the first chapter).
After having gone through the passage in the Bible I start reading through some commentaries. Some of them are in print and some are on my PocketPC. I like being able to use my PocketPC for the commentaries because I can highlight in the commentaries as well. I use one of those old fashioned stylus type things (it’s really just a piece of wood with lead in one end and a piece of rubber on the other) to mark up the commentaries that I’m using in print.
After I go through the text and the commentaries I put all of my notes and the passages that I’ve marked in the commentaries into one MS Word document (usually denoted by the verse the commentaries are referencing). This document becomes the note file from which I build my lesson. With these notes compiled I begin the process of building the discussion questions for the class. Again, I initially use Word to create this file. As I write the questions for discussion I include the key points from my notes that will help me guide the discussion. (I use a different color to distinguish these “answers” from the questions.) Once that file is created I convert it to PDF. The PDF is then emailed to several in the class who are co-leaders (and in one case to a girl in the class who has hearing loss to help her better follow the discussion). This PDF is also uploaded to the class web site so that if someone misses a week they can stay caught up. The next thing I do is strip out everything that is part of the “answer” in the Word file. This document is also converted to PDF and becomes my handout.
Finally it’s time to take the text to PocketBible and MyBible. I have an html file that is a cumulative study guide to the book we’re studying. The conversion from Word to html is a simple one. Word can save a file as html or some light hand editing works as well. Hand editing is required when there are specific PocketBible tags that are needed. I use TextPad to do any necessary search and replacing. TextPad makes use of “Regular Expressions” that allow me to do some complicated search and replaces easily.
Going through Revelation I’ve found some times when I want to have the actual Greek displayed. BookBuilder allows me to do this using Unicode characters. The Unicode tables for Greek and Hebrew as well as transliteration are available as part of the documentation that is part of BookBuilder.
Once the html file is ready I run it through VerseLinker to make sure the references are linked and then I run it through BookBuilder. I make sure the “Also create .pdb (MyBible)” box is checked and then I click “Go!” and in less than a minute I have my .lbk for PocketBible and .pdb for MyBible. These are also uploaded to the class web site.
Since I use PocketBible during class it is very easy to hand out a list of references and ask the class members to read the verses and keep up with them. I simply tap the reference in my notes files and I’m there. Honestly though, I still tend to teach from a print copy of my notes. It’s easier for my eyes to jump around a full page than to try to scroll to the right section if we get ahead or need to go back during the discussion.
Some of the class members have caught on that I upload the questions with answers the day before the class. It’s fun to see them sitting there with their PDA following along.
Feel free to let me know if you have questions about how any of this works. If you want to see it in action feel free to visit our class web site at http://www.faith-focus.org/ignite.html. The PDFs, .lbks and .pdbs for Genesis and Revelation are all up there. You’re welcome to download them. But if you do…you have to let me know what you think. :)