Wednesday, April 26, 2017

eBook Interactivity: Part Two

Types of Interactivity: Platform Functionality

In part one of this series of blog posts I addressed how platform, device, and integration affect the eBook experience. Today I will address the types of interactive functionality commonly offered by eBook platforms. These types of interactivity are controlled by the platform and the method of access and/or integration by the user—not the publisher. I’ve split these into two categories. One, basic interactive functionality, covers functions most platforms offer. Two, advanced interactive functionality, covers functions some platforms include or are piloting.

Basic Interactive Functionality

eBooks allow users to search for content. This may seem too basic to be worth mentioning, but it has many implications for learning. Students can easily refer back to explanations of points of grammar while translating or completing exercises. Students can easily pull up dictionary definitions (assuming they can produce the first principal part, the nominative, etc.). Students can utilize the search function for essays or discussions on cultural topics.
Users can add highlights to their eBooks. Highlights can be in multiple colors and colors can be labelled. This is great for studying. In particular, students can label vocabulary to study for later. Students can mark passages to study for an exam. Students can highlight a tricky portion of grammar for easy reference in the future. The ability to color code and label means that highlighting can be personalized and organized in many ways to maximize efficiency.
 Interactive functionality includes adding highlights
and notes, exporting user notes, and searching
the text for certain content.
Users can add notes to their eBooks. The notes appear to the side of the text on the screen and have a separate scrolling mechanic. A student can utilize copy and paste with the note function to keep two sets of information on their screen at once. For example, a student could place the vocabulary for a reading into the notes section and then scroll through the reading and vocabulary individually.
Users can export their notes. This allows students to create customizable study guides as they learn. Students can also add teachers’ comments directly to their eBook. This eliminates the need to keep track of a separate notebook. While doing homework, students can add notes to themselves about what they want to ask in class, reminders on how to translate something, etc.

Advanced Interactive Functionality

Notes and highlights can be shared between users if they are using an eBook platform with this capability and if their eBooks have been integrated into a learning management system that allows this feature. This enables teachers to designate readings/assignments, add comments for students to read outside class time, assign students to comment on their homework as a way to track progress, or even assign students to discuss the work among themselves through comments.
Use Reports
Schools or teachers can receive reports on which pages are accessed, when, and by whom.* This function could allow teachers to remotely track and even award grade points to students for time spent on homework. This function can provide teachers and administrators with a new set of data for evaluations both of student behavior and of teaching models.

If you have any questions about these types of interactivity, in a Bolchazy-Carducci eBook you are currently using or considering using, please feel free to contact me ( I would be happy to answer your questions or set up a virtual meeting and demonstration.

A forthcoming post will have more information on interactive content—this is the publisher-provided extra content like links embedded in the eBook.

*This is a new function being implemented by VitalSource. Not all VitalSource users currently have access to this functionality. If you are using VitalSource or are considering it and would like to learn  more about this, we would be happy to assist you.

–Bridget Dean, Managing Editor

Monday, April 24, 2017

eBook Interactivity: Part One

Are your eBooks interactive? The Hekman LibraryI, or someone else here at Bolchazy-Carducci, fields this question daily. Unfortunately this is not an easy question to answer because (a) people use eBooks through different platforms, (b) people have integrated these eBook platforms into their own learning management systems (LMS) in different ways, (c) people access their eBooks through different devices, and (d) people mean different things by interactivity.

In this post I will address, in general terms, the different platforms from which B-C eBooks are available, the different devices on which they can be used, and the integration of these different platforms into learning management systems. In posts that will follow over the course of the week, I will address the different types of interactivity—platform functions and content.

eBook platforms are multiple and ever changing. Publishers put their content on these different platforms but do not directly control what features each provider has. For us two factors determine whether we work with a given platform. One, we seek out some platforms because they meet certain requirements that schools commonly need, such as being IMS compliant or working with Common Cartridge.  Two, if schools use a certain eBook platform and the Latin teacher requests our books on that platform, we make them available, if feasible. The request can be made directly to us by the teacher or it can be made to the eBook provider, who then contacts us. A complete list of the eBook platforms we currently work with and their features can be found on our website.

Just above our product descriptions there are
lists of the eTextbook providers and direct
links to purchase the eTextbook.
Users can access eBooks in several ways, depending on the platform from which they purchase the book and, if they are purchasing through a school district, their district’s system. A user who purchases from a platform directly can access the book through a browser or through the platform’s app.* The eBook can also be accessed on a variety of devices such as a computer (Mac or Windows), iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. Interactive platform functions tend to be the same whether you access the content through the web or through the platform’s app, although the appearance may vary. One major difference is that if you are accessing the eBook through the app (i.e., if you have downloaded it and are using it offline), you will not get updates the publisher may provide unless you go to your library and sync the book.

It pays to research the various platforms and what features they offer before committing to a certain provider. However, if your school uses a certain platform, you will likely not have the luxury of choice for your courses or for your classes.

If your school uses a learning management system (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas, Schoology, etc.), eBooks can be integrated with it. This means in effect that your students will access the eBook through the learning management system. Depending on the parameters of your system, some platform functionality may be impacted. If you are curious how this would work in the case of your school we are happy to work with you, your technology department, and your chosen eBook platform to provide answers. Email

Two forthcoming posts (part two and part three) will have more information on interactive functionality—this is the platform-provided content like highlighting and search.

–Bridget Dean, PhD, Managing Editor

*See the chart on our eBook information page to determine which platforms have access through an app. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

March Answer for Roman Calendar

If you have not already done so, check the inside back cover of our 2016–2017 Roman Calendar for a reproducible worksheet that asks students to engage with the derivative-oriented artwork included in the calendar.

For those completing the worksheet, here is March's image, question, and answer.

Question: Dūcunt volentem fāta, nōlentem trahunt.
This line, originally written by the Greek philosopher Cleanthes, was translated into Latin by Seneca. Are there any English words you can think of deriving from Seneca’s translation?

Dūcō, the Latin word meaning "to lead" gives English such words as "abduct," "conduct," and "viaduct." Volentem from volens, meaning "willing," gives words such as "benevolence," "malevolent," and "volunteer" to English. Fāta brings words like "fate," "fatal," and "fatality" to English. Trahunt, from trahō, meaning "to drag," gives English words like "abstract," "extract," and "tractor."

Think your students know the answer to the April question on the worksheet? Tweet @BCPublishers the answer by April 25th for a chance to win five of our new buttons. We'll announce our answers, as well as the winner, at the beginning of May. Submit an answer for your class, or better yet, encourage students to participate individually.

To add your name to our mailing list for the 2017–2018 Roman Calendar, email with the subject line “Roman Calendar”; be sure to include your name and mailing address in the body of the email. Also, let us know by email if you have not received your calendar yet!