Easy eBooks for Teachers

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Organisational overview

CAE has been a leading provider of adult community education (ACE) in Victoria for 65 years, and is located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD café district in Degraves St and Flinders Lane, right by Flinders St station. CAE offers a diverse range of nationally recognised and accredited training and over 900 short courses each year, with everything from ballroom dancing, crochet, sausage making and cupcakes, to languages, photography and art history.
The Delivery Innovation Unit, guiding this project provides:
  • support to CAE staff to develop practical and useful technology enabled teaching solutions
  • support to learners to maximise their time at CAE

‍‍‍‍Trial overview‍‍‍‍

On completion of the project CAE has developed and published a user guide for teachers and learners to create and access eBooks. The project involved working with teachers from the Professional Writing & Editing Accredited course, with the trial group enrolled in the unit 'Story Writing'. Throughout the project investigation was made into the procedures of creating an eBook and developing instructions that could be used by both the teacher and learner. CAE used two pieces of open source software - Calibre and Sigil for this trial.
calibre-icon.png

The expected outcomes for the project were to create and maintain:
  • a streamline process for easy creation, management and integration of eBooks
  • knowledge in the application of software
  • a forum for creators / users of eBooks
  • procedures consistent through standard technical requirements.

Throughout the project there were set milestones to achieve.
  • Survey Learner and Staff in their knowledge, use and application of software and eBooks
  • Evaluate survey results prior to the trial and on completion
  • PD for teachers in the use of software
  • Trial of process in creating an eBook
  • Testing the process with trial group
  • Making the resource material accessible to learners using the LMS and other devices.

Trialing the technology


Research

CAE has conducted a Pre-survey of learners within the Professional Writing & Editing courses and teachers to determine the knowledge and experience with the use of eBooks, procedures in accessing a publication, ‍‍‍‍producing an eBook and the terminologies used in the creation and publication of an eBook.‍‍‍‍

The Pre-trial survey determined that the group had limited experience with eBooks and ePublications. Some of the responses to the questions in the survey highlighted the lack of knowledge with computer language. A glossary was included in the Easy eBook Guide to assist the group with terminologies.
The survey also highlighted the range of mobile phone devices used by the group ranging from iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia, HTC Legend. The use of eReaders was limited to Kindle and the group indicated access to both PC, Apple Mac, iPad.
To cater for the range of mobile phones, computers and eReaders listed in the survey as being used by the trial group, two links were made available to the participants to assist in the explanation about the differences between eBook Readers - electronic paper display and non-electronic paper display and file formats suitable for their equipment.
‍‍‍‍These two sources have current and extensive information accessible through Wikipedia. ‍‍‍‍
Comparison of eBook formats
E-book Reader Matrix
The trial group also needed to have a platform to read the eBook if they were using iPad, iPhone tablet or android mobile phone. The links were provided for the trial group.

Androids
Free Aldiko eBook Reader
Free FB Reader
iPads, iPhones & Androids
http://www.ilovefreesoftware.com/26/featured/free-e-book-reader-apps-ipad.html

‍‍‍‍Research into the process of creating the eBook has been conducted by Project Coordinator, Ann Hardingham. By investigating the procedure the Easy eBook guide explains the steps to take in creating the eBook. The guide demonstrates how to create an eBook and saving the eBook in file formats for different eReaders. The guide is located in the Resource section of this wiki in both pdf and EPUB format.

There are many different eReaders available but the most common eReaders are Amazon Kindle, Nook, Sony, BeBook and Kobo. Information and comparison of the eReaders is available at http://ebook-reader-review.toptenreviews.com/

An EPUB file is one format of saving the document. To read the information on an eReader the book needs to be published using specific file formats to the eReader. EPUB is one type of format that is widely used by many eReader devices.

The use of Calibre has been trialled with publications from a pdf and HTML to EPUB and MOBI. As the trial group was able to use a Kindle during the PD sessions the eBook was converted to the file format specific to a Kindle - MOBI. The EPUB file can be added to the Calibre Library and converted into specific file formats.

The use of audio and video is an added bonus in the eBook and was an element that made the eBook more interactive and applicable to VET / Certificate courses where demonstration or visual would support the course content. Investigation into how to insert the video (mp4 format) required more experience and knowledge into how a video works within the different eReaders. http://diveintohtml5.info/video.html provides the file formats that need to be used to support the different eReaders and the process for creating the multiple formats when inserting the video into the eBook.

The trial group participants study a unit - Computer Publication within the PWE Certificate IV course. The group have used different software in particular Adobe InDesign. Research was made into the adding of video into the eBook by using Adobe InDesign and importing a media file.
‍‍‍‍

‍‍‍‍Implementation‍‍‍‍

The software for the trial is Open Source Software. The specific requirements Calibre and Sigil are specified for either PC, Apple, Linux or Portable (USB).
Specific details:
  • PC requirements. Computer equipment required: Windows XP, Vista or v7. Up-dated version available 0.8.56 but requires older versions than 0.6.17 to be un-installed. Software located in C;\Program Files\calibre folder.
  • OSX requirements. Computer equipment required: OSX Leopard and higher. If using OSX Tiger or PowerMac select version 0.7.28. Specific requirements apply and are set out when downloading the software.
  • Linux requirements. Available version 0.8.56. There are specific requirements when using this software with Linux. The details are listed when downloading. It is assumed that the user is aware of the binary coding and programming terminology.
  • Portable requirements. USB on PC Windows XP SP3. Detailed set-up explained for downloading with specific warnings in regard to failure to save the Library. Back-ups should be made by copying the Library.

The links below are to accessing the software:
Calibre
Sigil

CAE does not have the software permanently imaged on the classroom computers but the IT Department have made the software accessible to the staff, teachers and learners through a common server. To make this possible the procedure will require re-imaging at a later date. Currently learners must download the software which means that the Library is not saved. Teachers and staff have access to the software and it can be saved to their work computers.

To test the publication of the eBooks the trial group were encouraged to use their own eReader, iPad or mobile phone. If this was not available the group was able to test their eBook using the Kindle 3G.

‍‍‍‍Classroom trial/s‍‍‍‍

In developing the teacher and trial group's knowledge and understanding of the use and functionality of the eBook, the following strategies were used.
  • Both the trial group and the teachers were requested to have a document that could be saved as a pdf or HTML (if 'Table of Contents' was to be used) for use in the two PD sessions.
  • The group was given a demonstrate on how to convert the document into an EPUB file format using Calibre.
  • A process diagram was given to the trial group and teachers to use in conjunction with the guide.
  • Conducted two PD sessions with the trial group and teachers as they worked through the first version of the guide step-by-step with the trainer. Any queries or clarification was noted and reviewed for inclusion into the guide.
  • The second PD session relied on the trial group and the teachers to work through the guide without assistance. Any further details for additions or alterations were noted.
  • The teachers attended an online webinar on the 26 April with Michael Gwyther - yum studio, who demonstrated the Calibre tools.
  • Delivery Innovation has created a course - Learn@Leisure which contains the video links and Easy eBook Guide.

Further information was given to trial Group which included:
  • Demonstrating in the first PD session the process of downloading an eBook. A Kindle was used to demonstrate the ease of using Calibre and the eReader.
  • Providing explanations and links to the different eReaders and the file format details.
  • Where the eBooks and the use of Calibre may be of use to the trial group - Certificate IV Professional Writing & Editing.

Implementing the technology/ies


Evaluating the technology/ies


Efficiency and effectiveness of the technology:

Positives

  • The use of Calibre has been effective in creating the EPUB. The process was easy to explain with the guide and the software provided 'Help' links with each of the individual steps
  • The images were transferred well if the 'wrap to text' option was used in the initial document
  • Using the Web html document made the ePUB Table of Contents interactive
  • The trial group was able to complete an ePUB, MOBI publication and transfer this to the Kindle with an hour

Negatives

  • Inserting audio and video documents is an advance level requiring knowledge in HTML5 and file formats
  • Taking the ePUB and then transferring into Sigil to allow advanced editing was to no advantage for general use
  • Sigil required an advanced understanding of file formats and advanced knowledge in HTML
  • Not being able to play video in the ePUB

The inserting of audio and video into the ePUB can be done using HTML5 and coding formats to suit the many different eReader devices. Unfortunately this does restrict a number of the learners and teachers with limited knowledge in HTML5. For example the trial group highlighted the lack of knowledge with HTML when the Word document had to be saved in a Web page format.
If using an iPad and preparing the eBook for iPad the link below explains the insertion of audio and video.
Pigs, Gourds & Wikis
Delivery Innovation will continue to develop and experiment with the eBooks and in the use of Open Source software. The continued development of knowledge into inserting video will be a main priority.
The evaluation has been positive in regard to the software Calibre. We will continue to use the software as the learners have found the process easy to follow when working through the stages of publication.

Strategies to enable use of the technology

Strategies used and developed to support the trial group and teaching staff,
  • To assist with the trial information about the use of the software, instructions have been created in both a flow diagram, video and paper. Learners were provided with video (mp4 file) on accessing Calibre and opening the software. The video material will be tested as a support to the instructions.It was proposed to have the videos in the Easy eBook guide using Sigil. Previously mentioned research demonstrated that an advanced knowledge in converting the file formats was require.
  • The Open Source Software has been made available to all learners on the CAE server. Access is also available through the internet and can be saved as a Portable version for USB. The Easy eBook Guide will be available to all the staff and learners in the LMS - Moodle course. Both staff, teachers and learners will have access to the course as 'Guest' enrolments. The support videos are also available in the LMS course.

Additional information:
  • The main emphasis of this trial is to assist both the learner and teacher in creating eBooks to make resource material accessible. The important factor was to also make sure that to achieve this the process in creating the eBook needed to be relatively easy and not time consuming. Many of the surveyed participants had very little experience in using various software systems. On investigating Sigil it was identifed that this software was advanced and required knowledge in the HTML coding. Sigil does not provide a step-by-step process to work through. The trial group was satisfied with the eBook from Calibre.
  • The process of preparing the mp4 videos has been hindered by understanding the range of file formats required to cater for the different mobile devices. The main formats supported currently Theora+Vorbis+OGG, H.264+AAC+MP4, WEBM. Not all internet browsers support the same file formats. To be able to watch the videos across all the mobile devices the files need to be encoded in the different formats, especially in WebM (VP8+Vorbis), H.264 + ACC, Theora + Vorbis. Embed Videos provided insight into the HTML5 coding and the file formats.
  • In preparing the documents the learner needed to have some understanding of how a web page functioned.

Barriers to implementing the technology


Making or suggesting a new and innovative way of incorporating technology into the classroom can be met positively or negatively. With this trial the two teachers involved with trialling the guide have been sceptical about the need and use of eBooks in general. The lack of computer skills and knowledge in eBooks has been a hurdle and their attitude is very much based on the question as to why make changes to what is working? Comments such as "Paper based is what we have always worked with and this has been successful". The lack of understanding in regard to the types of devices available from iPad to Android has made it difficult to explain the processes.‍‍‍‍T‍‍‍‍here is also a perceived threat that the teacher's workload will be increased by the use of technology.

Strategies
  • Build the teachers knowledge in the use of elearning by using LMS, audio and video to support the use of the software.
  • Provide a flow chart that shows how the eBook is created and read.
  • Demonstrate how the publication of course notes and use of the LMS could make the material more accessible. (The survey results from the trial group indicated that many of the learners were part-time, suggesting that they are managing a job, family or affordability as well as studying).
  • Conduct one-on-one and group PD sessions.
  • Create a troubleshooting page to support the teachers.
  • Demonstrate the use of the software and application.
  • Encourage the teachers that the eBook can be as simple or as intricate as the teacher wants.

To overcome any barriers or lack of knowledge with the trial group, Certificate IV Professional Writing & Editing - Story Creation received:
Prior to the first PD session:
  • A troubleshooting page.
  • A flow diagram that explained how an eBook works.
  • A video link demonstrating the process of creating an eBook.
During the PD session:
  • Links to the software.
  • Guide on how to create their own eBook using Calibre.

Additional considerations


Additional considerations:
  • Knowledge about Digital Rights Management was rasied by the Professional Editing & Writing group. Within the Certificate IV course the learners cover copyright. There is a need for further investigation into the set up of DRM and how this is incorporated into the publications.Preliminary research DRM
  • Copyright regulations http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go
  • Support material for teachers and learners in the production and editing of video.

Technical standards, policy or business rule requirements:
  • Use of learner material and images must have permission of the participant.
  • Access to a computer to use the software and create the eBook.
  • Understanding of terminologies and file formats.
  • Access to the internet to send the eBook.

Additional information:
  • We have identified the availability of the course material could be enhanced through the use of LMS - Moodle. Courses could make their curriculum material available in the LMS and on enrolment the learners can access their course and download the material.
  • We have also identified that the demonstration in the use of Calibre and downloading of resource material for courses can be conducted during orientation.

Future directions

Where to for eBooks?
  • The Trial group from PWE are completing their unit in Certificate IV Story Creation. This project has inspired the learners as to the potential for the cost effective approach to creating their work for publication and also gain experience in the evolution of the "printed word" from paper to eBook.
  • The trial group - Certificate IV PWE and volunteers from VCE Department, the ICT Department and learners from Hanover / Common Ground have been a practical link for CAE to implement the project with. We have been able to demonstrate the practical applications of using eBook publications with resources and also the benefits to the individual in accessing resource material on other devices, i.e. mobile phone and eReader.
  • We have both accredited and short courses that have the potential to use the eBooks to support and foster learning. The inclusion of resources into an eBook, i.e. audio and video can further enhance the learning. This will be a priority to develop resource videos for inclusion.
  • To develop both teacher and learner skills in the use of eBooks we have created a community of practice by using the LMS. Video resources are available for all CAE staff, teachers and learners to access in supporting the creation of the eBook using Calibre.

Potential future work is required with:
  • Supporting the development of knowledge and skills in the implementation of file formats using HTML5 coding. Both teacher and learner will require further explanation into inserting videos into the eBook. Knowledge in how to convert videos to file formats required by the different eReaders.
  • Understanding HTML when using Sigil to insert the coding required for video.
  • ‍‍‍‍Further demonstration and support in installing readers when using iPads, iPhones or androids.‍‍‍‍
  • Investigating the inclusion of an eReader, ie Kindle as part of the enrolment into a course. This would then have the material pre-loaded for the particular subjects. Consideration would have to be given to cost of equipment and effectiveness to that course.
  • The supporting information and research into the coding HTML5 from the‍‍‍‍ 'Strategy's E-standards for Training' ‍‍‍‍links was very thorough. The technical aspects deterred the two supporting teachers and the trial group.
  • To support the VET programs and the use of eBooks, Delivery Innovation will continue to provide access to the LMS - Moodle and conducted Professional Development CAE wide in the creation and implementation of eBooks within the curriculum.
  • Delivery Innovation will have further involvement with the Certificate IV Professional Writing & Editing Department and Diploma of Visual Arts in the creation of a portfolio of work published as an eBook.

Further development:
  • ‍‍‍‍Formatting the videos needs further support and implementation into the eBooks.
  • Support in the development of knowledge for the teachers and learners in the use of Sigil which can be used to insert the HTML coding. Teachers will need to have further PD sessions to work with the software.‍‍‍‍

Additional materials


Learner feedback


‍‍‍‍Evaluation of the trial:‍‍‍‍
Survey responses received at the time of completion of the trial:
  • 33% Teacher evaluation responses
  • 66.7% Learner evaluation responses
Demographics of the group:
  • 33.3% 'Face to Face' full time study
  • 33.3% 'Face to Face' P/T study
  • 16.7% 'Face to Face' Full time teaching staff
  • 16.7% P/T teaching staff

On completion of the two trial sessions the group were asked to evaluate their knowledge in regard to:
  • 100% understood the definition of what an eBook was, what an eReader was and how to save the document as a Web page.
  • 100% where able to create an EPUB and file format suitble for their device.
  • 60% were able to edit the Metadata to suit their book for publication.

The evaluation highlighted that the trial group could create the eBook but only:
  • 20% downloaded an eReader to use of their mobile devices
  • 40% sent the eBook to their device
  • 20% emailed the eBook

The evaluation highlighted the response to the use of technology with:
  • 100% agreeing that the eBooks would be useful in supporting their studies or teaching.
The response from the group were:
  • "It would be perfect for compressing large documents ..."
  • "While I prefer the book-as-an-object, epublishing is the future of publishing".
  • "Want to produce a range of e-books using only teasers, e.g. a page. Then encourage purchase of the entire book for say .99 cents to get the entire book".

Finally one learner responded with:
  • "To gain familiarity with e-books, maybe all Tasks completed could be compiled into a finished product of an e-book showing the end product of everything that has been learnt in the course. This could also include the Certificate of Attainment. This would not only document evidence of the successful completion of the course, it would contain important reference materials, e.g., how to put together a CV, interview techniques. Being stored on line, it could be shown to prospective employers. It would also remain secure and accessible, unlike copies which get lost and deteriorate".


Sample Learner eBook in EPUB


Instructions to view the EPUB
To view the sample work, save the EPUB and download Calibre. Use the Easy eBook Guide pdf in the Resources section to set up the eBook to suit your eReader.

Easy eBook Guide in EPUB



Resources


‍‍‍‍Easy eBook guide pdf‍‍‍‍


Research into Video and HTML5
Converting mp4 for HTML5 format
Embedded videos in your webpages
‍‍‍‍http://e-standards.flexiblelearning.net.au/research/html5.php‍‍‍‍
Using Digital Video - E-Standards
Video editing techniques
http://developers.whatwg.org/section-index.html
https://developer.mozilla.org/en/HTML/HTML5

Support videos to Calibre


Using Microsoft Word 2012 Inserting a Table of Content
Saving the document Web page format

For more information


Ann Hardingham
Centre for Adult Education - Delivery Innovation
278 Flinders Lane - Mezzanine Level
T: 03 9652 0601
E: Ann.Hardingham@cae.edu.au
Josie Rose - Team Leader
Centre for Adult Education - Delivery Innovation
278 Flinders Lane - Mezzanine Level
T: 03 9652 0710
E: Josie.Rose@cae.edu.au

Strategy contact information


For general enquiries about the National VET E-learning Strategy, please contact:
Secretariat of the Flexible Learning Advisory Group
+61 (0)3 9954 2700
Email: flag_enquiries@natese.gov.au Website: flexiblelearning.net.au

New Generation Technologies for Learning
incorporating E-standards for Training
Email: e-standards@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website: e-standards.flexiblelearning.net.au