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Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011).

Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers
Walther Nagler Computing and Information Services / Division of Social Learning Graz University of Technology Graz, Austria walther.nagler@tugraz.at Martin Ebner Computing and Information Services / Division of Social Learning Graz University of Technology Graz, Austria martin.ebner@tugraz.at Nikolai Scerbakov Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media Graz University of Technology Graz, Austria nsherbak@iicm.edu

Abstract: Due to the fact that e-readers and e-books in general are booming stronger than ever their applicability for teaching and learning aspects absolutely need to be focused. Besides important didactical aspects there are a number of product related challenges that had to be taken first when integrating e-books to the universitys workaday life. This paper presents a way to turn teaching content into e-reader readable formats. On base of different raw materials according to their formats a couple of e-book output versions (for HTML, PDF, iPad, EPUB and Mobi usage) are compiled automatically. This development of adequate learning content by the meaning of ebook generation for multiple devices is described detailed as well as its user-friendly implementation into the Learning Management System of Graz University of Technology. Current technological limitations of that process and future aspects are discussed too.

Introduction
It had to be Amazon launching its e-book reader Kindle in the USA in 2007 and Apples iPad in April 2010 to turn e-books to be a blockbuster there. E-books have experienced a renaissance till then looking back on a long history starting in the early 1970ies with the Project Gutenberg. By now e-books and e-readers are booming stronger than ever; the number of devices in this context is growing bigger every day. Although this trend cannot be claimed for German speaking countries that much e-readers are predicted to conquer those markets as well (Shatzkin, 2011). The reasons might be widespread and even politically flavored (Nawotka, 2011) but nevertheless the range of offered e-books in those countries is nothing to write home about. At most only one percent of books bought in Germany in 2010 were e-books (Ehling, 2011; Shatzkin, 2011). The Austrian market can be compared to that. Individual attempts of several institutions or businesses to push the market signal a basic interest anyway. A survey amongst freshmen of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in autumn 2010 displays the common situation: Only 2.85% of 710 polled students stated to have an e-reader or at least a device to read e-books. But the same survey also indicates definitely a constantly rising usage of mobile devices since 2007 as far as the survey has not been published yet there is no official reference, but older polls have already shown the trend (Ebner & Nagler, 2010). Mobile devices already play an important role in a students life. We assume that this increase of mobile devices will go on unbowed. It is therefore a task of today to stay abreast of these changes and suit the core of any teaching and learning to it; the content.

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

High quality content in an appropriate didactic meaningful way is the break even not only of good traditional teaching but also to ensure effective learning. Within university education the printed book has already been completed by digital scripts using MS Word, Adobe PDF, LaTex or other text based formats. Though it has become a standard to provide those scripts to students using Learning Management Systems (LMS) or similar internet possibilities for students it is still very common to learn from a printed version. The haptic feeling of a hardcopy and the easy notes to take as well as the unfamiliar and uncomfortable way of learning from a lightning display are crucial reasons. Though students everyday habits are in flux they do not want to be fixed to a time or place or even device in order to manage their mainly private activities their study life and especially their learning behaviour seems to lack this switch especially in the case of content handling. But e-books can maybe help. Because of their interactive and flexible character according to formats and devices they offer very new possibilities to manage and work with content. To understand what we mean by e-books a short introduction to the term e-book is given followed by a description of what the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) does in the field of e-books and e-readers as well as a detailed look on the e-book formats, especially EPUB.

Definitions of E-Books and E-Readers


Since the 1990ies the term e-book has become common for electronic readable content. The meaning of the term changed a lot in the meantime. In the beginnings nearly any printable text file had been called electronic book whereat mostly the new format PDF was meant. Today the term has a couple of different interpretations. Generally we have three main meanings. E-book the digital book The most well-known definition for e-books is the one corresponding to the digitalization of printed books of libraries. This includes not only digitalized releases of real books but also the online book stock of a library; ejournals cover the range of online news, papers and magazines. So this definition includes all readable or downloadable documents (books, other publications ) offered by a library portal or similar institutions. These documents are of PDF format by default. Possibilities for interaction are not usual for such e-books. E-books in that sense are routine for students of today. One big advantage is its easy and quick availability. Very often libraries offer a good search system in that context. Such e-books are not meant to be read in general with e-readers except the device can interpret PDF format. E-books created with authoring tools There are multiple ways of creating content for teaching and learning efforts. One is by the use of authoring tools in order to get individual interactive, multimedia content that very often follows didactical principles and a course structure. In comparison to the other e-book definitions this one differs according to aim, generation, functionalities and formats. Authored e-books are normally not readable with e-readers so far but are optimized for internet browser usage or offline cd rom. Very often they are not open content but part of a schooling or training program. Usually they are therefore implemented or embedded within a Learning Management System (LMS) offering lots of navigation and interaction such as note function or included test environment. In case of authored e-books the user is self-given the opportunity to create the content. In contrast to that the consumer cannot influence the offer of online libraries nor the one of (commercial) public e-book providers which people have to subscribe to in order to receive content. Besides a big number of commercial authoring tools and companies selling such services there are many free (and open source) software products. E-books for e-readers The most modern variant of an e-book is the one produced for e-readers. E-readers are devices for the consummation of special formatted digitalized books (mainly literary acts). Originally its display called e-ink is a special one with very low energy consumption, a quality which makes it perfect for (outdoor) unplugged usage. Energy is only required in case of changing display/content. Furthermore the readability in the face of sunlight is very pleasant as well as the display does not stress the eyes so much at all. By now e-readers may only read content of proprietary formats. As one standard the EPUB-format has become accepted; EPUB stands for "electronic

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

publication". Even the most common e-reader, Amazon Kindle now can convert EPUB-format to be read on its device. The core functionality of an e-reader is to give the reader the feeling of reading a real book as best as possibly. Depending on (battery) technology it can be predicted, that future e-readers will become more powerful than only interpreting plain text and images. The EPUB format is an open standard for e-books based on the Internet extensible language XML developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) in 2007. Mainly content of text and image is supported. EPUB allows a dynamic adjustment of the content according to the display of the device. Although EPUB cannot be interpreted by Kindle without converter software EPUB by now is the most used format for e-readers. Besides the EPUB format Mobipocket (name of firma and software) is competitive so far. From a pedagogic point of view the missing notice possibility and the disability to watch, play or embed media files besides images are major disadvantages. Kindle after all supports MP3 format. Because EPUB follows XML language a lot of content may be converted to EPUB format to be read on e-readers too. A good collection of such software can be found on the homepage of LexCycle1. Furthermore there are different software and plugins to work with established e-reader formats on your desktop PC without e-reader devices.

E-Books at TU Graz
The Department for Social Learning (DSL) of the Computer and Information Services (CIS) of the TU Graz in cooperation with the Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media (IICM) offers new ways of creating, managing and distributing online content for presentation, teaching and learning purposes to the mass. To avoid misunderstandings it must be adverted that e-books at TU Graz in this sense are not to be compared to the extensive e-book offer by TU Graz library. This is only a terminological analogy. E-books in the meaning of the DSL is an ongoing project focusing online development, management and distribution of teaching and learning content on base of didactical concepts and microcontent principles. Multiple applicability of the content as well as possibilities of interaction and communication are main elements of the overall concept.

Figure 1: Concept of e-book development at TU Graz using the authoring tool ABC-Manager and/or the TU Graz TeachCenter; multiple output versions including e-reader formats The TU Graz TeachCenter (TUGTC) is the central e-learning platform of the TU Graz2. On base of the so called WBTmaster-system it has been and still is developed at the IICM in cooperation with the DSL. The technical management of TUGTC is mainly up to IICM the administrative one belongs to the DSL. Implementation of didactical aspects is discussed by both IICM and DSL. Besides a very lot of possibilities TUGTC also offers different ways of having content expressed as e-books for to be worked with in multiple formats including those for e-readers. The DSL itself has programmed an authoring tool for editing e-books (Huber et al, 2008). The so called ABC-Manager lets you produce e-books from the start to the outputs independent from any other system but is also designed to be embedded into TUGTC. Figure 1 displays the main production lines of e-books at TU Graz in
1 2

http://www.lexcycle.com/ (last visited April 2011) http://tugtc.tugraz.at (last visited April 2011)

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

general that are serviced by DSL and IICM. As it is shown teachers can choose two ways of implementing content to the LMS (TUGTC); once by simply uploading already existing content or by creating new content using the special authoring tool ABC-Manager first and then upload it to TUGTC for further treatment. Editing of content on base of HTML can be done within TUGTC itself too. Rearranging or sampling content on TUGTC is possible either. After that step of uploading, editing and mashing (if needed) different outputs for multiple devices can be chosen. For content produced with the ABC-Manager the TUGTC e-book environment is best for presentation and online interactivity even in real-time. All in all TUGTC is the central platform for e-books at TU Graz. E-books at TU Graz TeachCenter To understand the multiple possibilities of e-book generation and distribution within TUGTC a closer look at the whole platform must be taken. TUGTC is a platform for (university) courses with individual login and distinguished access management. Any course can be highly adapted to the requirements of the teacher. Although, when a new course set up with standard features is implemented, no course is similar to another. This is enabled by more than 200 different applications that may be (or not) selected by the teacher to personalize own courses. Apart from that TUGTC has functionalities that occur in different applications; such in case of e-books. As mentioned before (Figure 1) there are two main ways to follow: the online e-book variant and the print variants for e-reader outputs. By means of online e-book variant TUGTC has a special e-book environment for to work interactive with the content of the e-book. The room has navigation elements as well as linked communication channels such as chat, email and blog activities. So it is possible to comment on each single content page of the ebook using the microblogging functionality even via mobile devices by referring to a unique blog-address or by sending a SMS or an email (Ebner, 2010). For sure there is a very usable annotation function. The user can take notes on any single part of content, can mark the note to be private or public, may sent questions and add attachments to the note. Moreover these notes not only are saved online but also come along with the different printout versions. So the student can fully work with the e-book such as using a (physical) notepad. Originally the content of such e-books bases on HTML pages that are compiled together to an e-book. The generation of those HTML-pages as well as the compilation to an e-book may not be done within TUGTC but with the help of the authoring tool ABC-Manager offered by DSL. But HTML and ABC-Manager is not obligatory for e-books on TUGTC. Nearly any content may be assembled and generated to structured e-books out of the box whether it is a presentation (such as a PowerPoint file), simply images or PDF-documents. The content can be selected from ones own TUGTC course as well as from local drive. Furthermore the TUGTC e-book environment enables a conversion of any TUGTC e-book regardless of its origin (ABC-Manager or TUGTC content) into different e-reader formats. By means of e-reader print variants not only TUGTC e-books but any content within the TUGTC (that can be displayed on e-reader devices from a technical point of view) may be released as e-reader formats (EPUB, Mobi, or for iPad). To use those options these special print functionalities are implemented throughout the whole LMS. The opportunities of the TUGTC for e-books and e-readers can be summarized as follows: TUGTC parts of relevance in this context E-book interactive environment (for students) o for to work with e-books generated within TUGTC o for to work with e-books generated with ABC-Manager E-book generation and administration environment (for teachers) o for to upload and update e-books generated with ABC-Manager o for to compile e-books on base of content from local drive o for to compile e-books on base of content within TUGTC E-reader generation environment (for teachers) o for to compile content from local drive for e-reader output o for to compile content from TUGTC for e-reader output TUGTC print functionalities of relevance in this context (for students and teachers) Basic and special print functionalities o Button Get PDF and Mobi/Kindle as a standard print functionality anywhere it makes sense o Button Get EPUB for directories within a couple of TUGTC applications Extended print functionality

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

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embedded within E-book generation and administration environment E-reader generation environment provides different output formats HTML version PDF version iPad Version EPUB version Mobi (Kindle) version

The conversion of content to be read on e-readers is for sure limited by the specifications of the several e-reader formats. The following chapter E-Book from a technical point of view will shortly go into details about this. Apart from that two more things must be pointed out. On the one hand a lot of e-reader providing companies offer also a desktop version for their products. So by installing the special software (locally) also content of e-reader formats can be read on a PC or an Apple computer with no need for a mobile e-reader device. Secondly there is a mobile version available of any TUGTC course. So at least in case of having no e-reader or no supplement on the local computer for to read e-books in e-reader formats TUGTC e-books may be read using a compatible mobile. In the following the paper concentrates on the e-reader formats and requirements for compiling content to those formats. The authoring tool ABC-Manager will not be discussed in details so far (Nagler et al., 2003; Fickert et al., 2004; Schmautzer & Nagler, 2004; Fickert et al., 2006; Nagler et al., 2007; Huber et al., 2008; ). The projects aim of the ABC-Manager was to develop a standardized layout and an online way for to create teaching, presenting and learning content, in order to close the gap between a presentation and a script (book or print out). Between 2001 and 2006 a design had been created, evaluated, continuously upgraded, adapted and optimized by the Institute of Electrical Power Systems (IFEA) of TU Graz. Since 2006 the ABC-Manager has been redeveloped by DSL from bottom up. Since 2008 e-books edited with the ABC-Managers can be easily implemented into TUGTCs e-book interactive environment using TUGTC e-book administration environment. It there can be converted to e-reader formats using TUGTCs special print functionalities as described above. E-books from a technical point of view E-readers are electronic devices that are designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital books and periodicals. By (closer) definition they use e-ink technology for their displays. Such e-readers require (so far) special formats; their multimedia capability is therefore limited. To stay abreast of these changes TU Graz TeachCenter also offers output formats for e-readers for any content in principle. The conversion to e-reader formats requires a special layout of the content to be displayed fully correctly on e-readers. To optimize those processes is one of the ongoing research topics in the course of the project e-books at TU Graz. To understand these problems in more detail the several formats and steps of the processes must be discussed. There are basically two approaches to customizing multimedia content for e-readers.

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Figure 2: e-Book example as EPUB on iPad with embedded youtube-video Since Mobi format is basically an especially compressed HTML file, images and their descriptions in a form of so-called Open Packaging Format (OPF), first approach utilizes filtering concept where all the media types that differ from HTML and plain images are replaced with simplified media types in order to be read on an e-reader which cannot read the original types. For example, PDF is replaced with an HTML file, movies with images. This approach provides rather compact resultant files, but a sort of distractive in the sense that content of exported Mobi e-books may significantly differ from their original content. Another approach is based on provided by "EPUB" format, concept of alternative media that allows utilizing a run-time event "fallback". Thus, if a particular media file cannot be displayed by a current e-reader environment, it is dynamically replaced with another media. This approach allows producing e-books suitable for a wide range of e-readers and other mobile devices, the main disadvantage can be seen as a necessity to embed media files of different types that increase size of resultant e-books. The problem can be solved though by dynamic generation of e-books especially for a particular user device.

Figure 3: Ways of generating e-books and different e-reader formats using the ABC-Manager and special print functionalities within TUGTC for online, offline (desktop) and mobile usage; Comparison of the different outputs Although there are a couple of software for authoring or converting content to e-reader formats (just as Sigil, Apple Pages or also Adobe InDesign) the conversions and replacements are done by the TUGTC software itself.

Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

When an TUGTC e-book is to be converted to an e-reader format, the system first scans all media files of that ebook and checks whether the media is supported by the selected e-book format or not; if not, the system makes the converting for example: DOC to HTML, PPT to PNG or PDF to PNG. Next all HTML files of the e-book are checked for e-reader format validness and all references to external resources are removed. Now the HTML-files and (transformed) media files are packaged together into a single container (OEBPS Container Format) and provided with an Open Packaging Format (OPF) description. Finally the system builds a table of contents in a form of "ncx"-files (Navigation Control file for XML) that are also added to the output package. Figure 3 displays the overall possibilities for e-books to be released for e-readers and mobile variant using the TUGTC. Starting in the top left corner the five ways of converting are listed: Mobile Version, Get HTML, Get PDF, Get ePub and Get Mobi. The teachers can choose the final version just be clicking on the different variants. This extended selection always appears in the course of e-books. In order to compare the different output variants always the same content is shown for this example. Although Figure 2 does not show details of the content it is obvious that the output variants differ from each other even if a multimedia poor content is taken. For instance there is a background image in the TUGTC e-book environment variant (upper right corner) which cannot be included within all other variants. Furthermore the EPUB variants for desktop may lack some content but the one displayed online does not. In comparison to the desktop software for EPUB the one for Mobi format allows scaling of the content. Such differences grow with the grade of multimedia enrichment. Whereas the TUGTC e-book environment allows full multimedia implementation and communicational interaction the Kindle for PC at least can play audio and video embedded in the e-book. Nearly all modern e-readers can interpret PDF format and most of them MP3. The potential of the formats is quickly changing and becoming advanced more and more.

Conclusion
In times of increasing popularity of Open Educational Resources and a rapidly ongoing enhancement of mobile devices TU Graz keeps up with these processes by offering integrated solutions and special ways in the field of ebooks and e-readers on their LMS called TU Graz TeachCenter. So far most of the content for teaching and learning purposes can be merged to e-books and if the formats allow it also compiled for e-reader usage. The limitations are set by the formats themselves; standard e-reader formats cannot express all multimedia content error-free by now but are intended to be able in the near future. Therefore it is unquestionable to keep track on these processes to be prepared for the future.

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Originally published in: Nagler, W., Ebner, M., Scerbakov, N. (2011). Reading and Learning with Any Device University Content for E-Books and E-Readers. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 1775-1782). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
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