Report: EPUB 3 as a Platform to Improve Learning Outcomes

April 8, 2014

Hot on the heels of the acquisition of CourseSmart by Vital Source it was good to see all teams at the EPUB 3 seminar held in London on the 27th April. Both platforms support EPUB 3 for interactive rich media content and Emmanuel Benoit, President and CEO of Jouve North America posed a number of questions in his introduction including:

·          What is the right balance between print and digital?

·          How can we prove that digital improves learning?

·          What does digital mean for content development and what lessons can we learn?

·          Can digital really create a more personalised learning experience?

Himanshu Joshi, Chief Learning Technology Officer, Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE gave a fascinating insight into the work of the Higher Colleges where all student laptops have been replaced with ipads and all printed textbooks have been replaced with e-books and online material. An impressive challenge that still presents room for development – they now seek to personalise the learning process through adaptive learning models. This BYOD (bring your own device) system at universities across UAE has been hugely successful.

Mark Witkowski, VP New Practices and Technology at Jouve, took us through the thinking and strategy behind content production workflows in house. With their move to the Readium platform Jouve have undergone an overhaul of their digital workflows in order to move away from page based thinking – the need “to think less about the container and more about the neutrality of the content”  has allowed them to concentrate on the structure and the content rather than the presentation of their finished product. Production’s job has to be about content structure in order for interoperability to be successful and for the publisher to put the learner first.

Mark Bide, Executive Director EDItEUR, Chairman of the PLS and IDPF Board Member, stated the case for accessibility and the benefits that EPUB 3 can bring to all of our reading experiences whether we are print impaired or not. We are all, at some point, “situationally disabled” and Mark suggested that we will all, as we grow older, find  the need for different types of access to our content. He highlighted the work of the Enabling Technologies Framework project – a WIPO funded project which ended in December 2013 – whose main deliverable was the publication of Accessible Publishing, Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers, now available in 8 languages. A transcript of Mark’s presentation can be seen in our news and accessibility sections here at EPUBZone.

Tom Bertram, e-book Production and Development Manager at Random House UK, took us through some of the basics and benefits of EPUB 3 and how it has transformed workflows and digital publishing at Random House UK. The comparison to other possible file formats and the discussion of the challenges that face Random House in the digital publishing space is a very relevant case study.

Ken Brooks, SVP, Global Supply Chain Management at McGraw Hill Education focused on the recent EDUPUB conference in Salt Lake City where he identified a number of themes including: Widgets, Assessment integration, Learning Analytics, LMS integration (learning management system) and accessibility. Taking us through the relevant slides from the EDUPUB conference Ken gave us a real sense of progress and of the concentrated effort being placed in this area.  See Matt Garrish’s report on this conference in our news section here at EPUBZone.

The slides from these and later presentations will be made available in the near future.