Monday, April 24, 2017

eBook Interactivity: Part One

Are your eBooks interactive?

Library.Calvin.edu/ 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 bridget@bolchazy.com.

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.