An eBook can be a one-stop shop for eLearning, packing interactivity, video and audio files, quizzes, and much more into a single portable, accessible file. And eBooks are easy to create, easy to use, and easy to update.

An underappreciated platform for eLearning, eBooks are versatile and creating them “is as simple as creating a Word document,” according to Sarah Gilbert, president of meLearning Solutions. Gilbert’s team won Best in Show at the FocusOn Learning 2017 DemoFest in June for an xAPI-enabled interactive eBook.

What do eBooks offer for eLearning?

Gilbert said that schools and universities have been using eBooks for years as a way to replace print textbooks. The eBooks offer more functionality than a print book, are easier to update, and can reduce schools’ or students’ costs. Corporate trainers have been slower to adopt eBooks, even though the platform offers a lot of in-demand features:

  • “The EPUB format can include embedded audio, video, images, 3-D models, and quizzes,” Gilbert said. EPUB is an open format that can be read on most eBook readers (and converted for others, like Kindle).
  • Apps to read eBooks are available for almost any device, including laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones, making eBooks portable and accessible anywhere.
  • eBooks can embed or link to all kinds of interactive activities and resources. “Developers that have experience working in HTML5 (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS3) can create pretty much any interaction in this format,” Gilbert said.
  • Once an eBook is downloaded, all of the features and functions are available locally, with no need for an Internet connection.
  • Adding xAPI reporting to an eBook means that learner interactions, like taking a quiz, watching a video, or reading a section of text, can be tracked and recorded by an LRS and documented in a company’s LMS.
  • It’s easy to add accessibility features—like text readers, scalable type, and adjustable contrast—to eBooks.
  • Developers can use free tools, like open-source Sigil, to create eBooks.

Gilbert sees eBooks as a versatile option for corporate training and performance support. “The interactive eBook solution is ideal for delivering performance support documents, such as job aids, user manuals, and other technical documentation. It is also a great platform for teaching new concepts,” she said. “The benefits of this format include ensuring that the content is available on any device or screen, it can be quickly updated, and rich media can be incorporated to add value and context to the content.”

Tracking and reporting capabilities complete the picture

Gilbert conceived of the xAPI eBook project when she got repeated questions from clients about tracking eBook use among learners. Increasing availability of free and low-cost LRS platforms convinced her to try it. Tracking with xAPI statements, then reporting to a learning record store that is connected to a learning management system, “supports the collection of micro-level data on users’ interaction with content,” she said. “I was excited about the possibilities this afforded designers and developers, because we can now access data to help us paint the picture of how our learners use interactive eBooks. We can capture page views, link clicks, video launches, highlights, and quiz results, just to name a few.”

The interactive eBook project was part of the spring xAPI Learning Cohort, a free 12-week virtual-classroom-based program run by TorranceLearning. The fall cohort started on August 31; typically, TorranceLearning runs two groups per year. Anyone who wants to learn more about xAPI is invited to join. Learn more in “Collaborative eLearning: It’s the Developers’ Turn.”

Want more?

Sarah Gilbert will offer a session on “xAPI Basics for Mobile Learning” at The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn 2017 Conference & Expo, October 25 – 27 in Las Vegas. Registration for DevLearn is open!