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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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