Globalisation and Digital Textbooks Learning Environment
Modern approaches and trends in the development of various models of educational systems show that we live in a world where science and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are interweaved and play a major role in the harmonious development of the future generation, and largely determine the quality of the educational process as a whole. The need for computerization of the educational institutions is increasing at a high pace. Mass distribution of computers in the 90s of the 20th century brought not only new technical, but didactic capabilities and approaches to the educational environment. Among the main advantages of computers are their availability, ease of interaction and graphical possibilities.
The use of computer technology in the educational process makes it possible to increase the speed of information transfer to the trainee, increases the intensity of its understanding and contributes to the development of personal qualities like intuition, professional flair, imaginative and creative thinking skills.
Over the last twenty years, a large number of computer-based educational systems have been developed, targeting different types of information and telecommunication equipment. My experience convinces me that the maximum effect from the introduction of the latest pedagogical and information technologies into the educational process has become possible with the use of e-textbooks, digital textbooks, technology and teaching aids.
Digital educational literature is created to expand the presentation, development and deepening of existing knowledge, to provide access to the additional information for trainees and to deliver in-depth study of the subject.
Nowadays, the content is becoming available digitally which has changed modern students’ expectations in terms of the course materials accessibility not only on computers but also through multiple devices.
The digital textbooks cannot be reduced to a paper version without loss of its didactic properties.
The analysis of the literature concerning the comparison between digital and printed textbooks made it possible to determine that a textbook, both electronic and printed, has general and distinctive features at the same time. The general attributes include:
the educational material is based on a specific area of knowledge;
the educational material is build up according to the current level of scientific and technological achievements;
the educational material in the textbooks is presented in a complete format, i.e. it is a completed work consisting of many elements that have semantic relationships and connections between themselves, which ensure the integrity of the textbook.
Distinctive features of the digital and printed textbooks
Each printed textbook is intended for a certain initial level of students’ training and assumes the final level of the learning process. A digital textbook of a particular subject can contain materials of several levels of complexity. In this case, all of them will be placed onto one platform, contain illustrations and animation to the text, multimedia, multivariate tasks for testing knowledge in an interactive mode.
The visibility in the digital textbooks is much higher than in the printed textbook. The visualization is also provided by the use of multimedia technologies in the creation of digital textbooks: animation, soundtracks, hyperlinks, video clips, etc.
The digital textbook provides a variety of tasks and tests with an instant feedback. It allows all tasks and tests to be given in an interactive and training mode.
Digital textbooks are by their structure open systems. They can be supplemented, adjusted, modified during their use.
The availability of a digital textbook is higher than of a printed one. Its circulation can be easily increased through networking.
Any textbook either digital or printed should contain two distinguishing elements: content and procedural.
The content of the textbook includes the following components:
The procedural part includes components such as:
The cognitive component is aimed to transfer knowledge to the learner. This is usually textual or static information. The demonstrative component supports and discloses the cognitive component (how the cognitive elements are delivered). The modelling component allows us to apply knowledge to the solution of practical problems. The controlling component determines the degree of mastering by the students of the studied material.
In the digital textbook, we consider that two more parts ought to be highlighted: managing and diagnostic.
The managing part is a software shell of the digital textbook, capable of providing a link between its parts and components. The diagnostic part is aimed to store static information about working with specific programs.
Digital textbooks used in colleges and educational institutions should be designed taking into consideration the education standards and requirements established by the state. That means that a graduate should be able to use theoretical knowledge in professional and social activities, master the culture of critical thinking, be able to organize his work process, have certain computer skills to be applied in the environment of his professional activity and be able to acquire new knowledge using modern information and communication technologies.
Purpose of a digital book
We believe that in higher and vocational education environment, the objective of using digital textbooks in certain subjects is:
automation of learning activities such as searching, collecting, storing, analysing, processing and transmission of the relevant information;
automation of the processing of laboratory experiment results;
automation of calculations and other information processing to be implemented in some practical assignments and diploma papers;
operational interaction between the participants of the learning process; simulation and modelling of complex objects and technological processes in real time;
virtual environment training; automation of monitoring of the learning activities results.
In general, for the secondary, vocational and higher education systems the most promising development lines and directions of such digital textbooks are:
an accessible presentation of educational material of increased complexity of the studied objects and phenomena;
reflection of a large volume of theoretical concepts used in special disciplines, a high degree of their logical interrelation;
a relatively large volume of various controlled training activities.
A digital textbook used in the lectures should provide an opportunity to illustrate the presented material via video, animated clips with audio accompaniment, provide the teacher with the means of demonstrating complex phenomena and processes, visualization of text, graphics, and sound.
The process of creating and implementing modern digital textbooks goes around the world; many countries have already begun to use digital textbooks in educational practice. So, since 2007 in South Korea the program “Digital textbook” operates, within the limits of which the virtual interactive book “Virtualinteractiveubiquitousbook” has been developed and applied. It is a 3D textbook with the use of the so-called “AugmentedReality”, which involves the combination of images of real objects and text or other information supplementing them and, thereby, increases the assimilation of the material. The results of the experiment showed that the school performance in general increased by 30%. By 2015, the South Korean government planned to completely abandon the paper textbooks.
In January 2012, Apple introduced a tool for developers of educational content which allowed to convert authoring educational materials into a digital textbook format and supports the following functions:
instant search for necessary information;
scaling photos and illustrations;
the rotation of interactive three-dimensional models;
the rapid transition to the desired chapter by touching the thumbnails of the pages;
automatic change of orientation of layout from vertical to horizontal;
automatic word interpretations;
the creation of questionnaires to consolidate reading activities;
the possibility of establishing feedback from the teacher;
management of educational content with multi-touch gestures.
In February 2012, the US government launched the “TheDigitalTextbookCollaborative” state initiative. In that framework, every American student will be provided with modern digital textbooks – interactive sets of teaching materials and tools, access to which can be obtained through a laptop computer, tablet computer or other modern device.
Similar initiatives related to the use of digital textbooks are being implemented in Eastern Europe, in particular in Belarus and Ukraine. School projects on the introduction of e-books are also widely deployed in developing countries of the world – for example, in Africa, where rural schools predominate. They traditionally have a severe shortage of textbooks in the system of both primary and secondary school education. Pilot projects were launched in 2010 in Ghana and in 2011 in Kenya.
What is a Digital Textbook? A Common definition of Digital Textbooks
Wulf (2003) states that “Electronic textbooks will contain animation and sound…They will not just contain references to sources but will contain the sources…with multidimensional links They will let the user try alternative analyses of data and annotate and augment the documentation…making the electronic book a `living document”.
A digital textbook is an educational product that can be reproduced (used) with the help of technological devices and contains a systematic presentation of the subject matter.
The main components of the electronic textbook are:
Exercise that contribute to the consolidation of the acquired knowledge;
Tests that allow an objective assessment of the student’s knowledge.
The electronic textbook should contain: a cover, a title screen, a table of contents, an annotation, a full presentation of the educational material, a knowledge verification system, a level control system, a text fragment search function, a list of authors, a glossary, with the control elements of the electronic textbook, the management system of work with the textbook. The paper textbook, presented in a digital form, cannot be considered a digital textbook.
Functional purpose of digital textbooks
According to some researchers, educational editions perform the following functions: communicative, informational, cognitive, developing, educating, organizing and systematizing (….)
For the effective mastering of the material by the students, the digital textbook, according to the recommendations of the methodologists, must necessarily include the following three blocks: information, training and monitoring. In the information block, as a rule, the topics of the vocabulary are explained and its functioning is shown in the speech. Experienced compilers of digital textbooks on foreign language argue that the educational material in it should be presented in a condensed form and submitted in portions, since otherwise the effectiveness of the perception of the material is drastically reduced (this is due to the peculiarities of perception of information from the monitor screen). Each section of the information block must end with control questions that allow the trainee to check the knowledge acquisition. The information block most often includes an electronic dictionary containing detailed information on the topic’s keywords; presentation of word combinations for the productive development; a sample text illustrating the use of words.
The training and controlling blocks of e-learning editions usually contain a system of exercises aimed at developing lexical material, its control, and self-correction of errors. The training block occupies a central place in the electronic textbook, since a number of exercises and practical assignments are required to teach a foreign language in order to consolidate the acquired knowledge and develop the acquired skills.
For greater efficiency, learners should be able to dialogue with the computer. The work in this mode allows student to consolidate the knowledge. When composing the tasks of this block, various systems for constructing the answer should be considered. All exercises should have a specific orientation (assimilation of the vocabulary, grammatical material work out, pronunciation, etc.), performed in different ways and in different organizational forms (a variety of forms of exercise stimulates the various cognitive processes of students, renders a positive impact on students’ interest in their implementation), each task should be closely related to others and occupy a certain place in the system of exercises.
Digital book as an alternative to the traditional printed textbook should:
perform all functions inherent in the paper textbook (informational as the main source of compulsory information for students, orient students towards cognitive activities and develop their cognitive skills).
provide with ample opportunities for computer visualization of the educational information;
serve as a basis for creating cognitive environment for students;
support the students’ ability to implement individual educational trajectories through the availability of additional material that broadens and deepens the main content of the subject.
provide comfortable, intuitively understandable conditions for the student to interact with educational content, both during classroom activities and working individually.
Functional structure of digital textbooks
The functional structure of a digital textbook must correspond to its purpose and contain the following components:
the basic material, which provides an outline of the main content of the subject. The main material can be presented in a hypertext and multimedia form. The visual series can be represented by realistic graphical images of the studied objects, processes, phenomena and synthesized objects of static and dynamic graphics. It is possible to replace / duplicate text descriptions of studied objects with corresponding video fragments, animations, models, audio records;
additional material associated with the main material with a clear navigation system and serving to expand and deepen the basic knowledge obtained in the study of the main material.
Structural organisation to help assimilate the educational material. It might consist of three elements:
As a rule, the modelling block, explains vocabulary and shows its functioning in speech.
Experienced compilers of electronic textbooks on foreign
language claim that the educational material in it should be
wives in a concise form and submitted portionwise, since otherwise the
The students’ perception of the material is sharply reduced (this is
is connected with the features of the perception of information from the monitor screen.
pa). Each section of the information block must end
control questions that allow the student to find out
thread, how deeply he learned the teaching material. In the information
The most common block is an electronic dictionary containing
detailed information about the topic’s keywords; presentation of the
for productive development; demonstration text,
illustrating the use of words.
Taking into consideration the specificity of the studied subject, educational interactive learning objects for self-control and control should be included into the structure of a digital book:
virtual laboratories, interactive maps or constructive and creative environments. The tasks involving automatic feedback of learning outcomes, should rule out the possibility of an ambiguous response. In a digital book, the organization of assimilation can be supplemented with a tool for collecting and storing statistical information on the progress of the delivered material, the implementation of practical assignments and control tests;
navigational organisation (table of contents, symbolic signals, alphabetical, nominal and thematic indexes, user bookmarks / notes, etc.), which will provide quick information retrieval, instantaneous transition to the necessary chapter and paragraph, reflecting the links between the main and additional educational material.
General requirements for the organization of digital textbooks
Educational content of the digital book must be multimedia and interactive.
Typical components of the multimedia content are: symbolic information (text, hypertext); static and synthesized visual series (photographs, 3D photo, charts, diagrams, graphics, instructional drawings, etc.); dynamic and synthesized visual series (video experiments, video excursions, 3D animation, 3D models of objects, etc.); sound series (audio fragments).
Educational content of the digital book may include both all the above mentioned components, and part thereof. The choice of concrete solutions for the presentation of educational content should be carried out taking into account the level of education and the subject area (subject) and be pedagogically expedient (meaningful): each component used should introduce new quality in the presentation of the material. In any case, the content should not be overloaded with information and decorative elements that destruct student’s attention from the main material.
Methodological features of the organization of the educational process using digital textbooks
Digital textbooks on the basis of modern mobile electronic devices are characterized by the following features:
the availability of an almost unlimited amount of information stored in them, which makes it possible to simultaneously hold a multitude of resources, including several textbooks on one subject;
access to web resources;
availability of a convenient and effective system of search and navigation;
“mobility”, thanks to which such a textbook can be used literally everywhere;
relatively high fragmentation of materials due to a small screen
Thus, on the whole, working with a digital book does not exclude the methods adopted in the modern school to work with a printed textbook, but adds to them the new features inherent in electronic publications. This ensures a smooth transition from the traditional printed textbook to the digital textbook, which does not involve breaking the existing practice of teaching. The main form of the organization of the educational process in the modern school is a lesson, within the framework of which the use of a digital book is possible in different scenarios:
Teacher – students
The work in the lesson can be done according to the traditional method: students are first interrogated orally or through interactive assignments, provided in the structure of the digital textbook.
E-Book and Digital Textbook: What is the difference?
There is an important number of definition of e-books. They are mainly defined as texts that can be available and accessed via electronic screens and have two formats:
page fidelity e-textbooks
reflowable digital e-textbooks (Jeong, 2012; Nelson, 2008; Vassiliou & Rowley, 2008; Chesser, 2011).
Page fidelity e-textbooks are scanned versions of the print books. They have no dynamic media, hyperlinks or web links. An example of this is a PDF file textbook. Reflowable e-textbooks use a flexible format system that includes dynamic media and allows the user to modify both the layout and interactive features of the e-textbook to suit the display medium (Chesser, 2011).
E-textbooks are available on a computer and can be distributed on CDs. Although they can be installed on a PC (through a CD or downloaded), they have limited user access on handheld devices (Shepperd et al., 2008). They offer less mobility than print textbooks because they have static format and tethere the student to a computer (Shepperd et al., 2008). The interaction of learners/readers with e-textbooks takes place in a static environment and is becoming obsolete due to the fact that modern mobile delivery technologies have developed and created more options.
Principles for the creation and methodological support of an electronic textbook
Disputes about what a “digital textbook” should be like, and what functions it should perform, do not subside. The following is the traditional modelling of the digital textbook: the presentation of educational material, practice, testing, and, unlike a printed textbook, the digital course should be designed to provide:
a detailed structuring of the course content;
interactivity (including the convenience of navigation) – the ability to change the presentation of the material depending on the actions of the trainee;
hypertext structure of theoretical material in the conceptual part of the course (references to definitions), and also in the logical structure of the presentation (sequence, relationship of parts);
use of powerful illustrative materials – various drawings and pictures, animation and other multimedia applications;
use of various practical and control measures to consolidate knowledge, self-control, monitoring and evaluation of the acquired knowledge (tests, exercises, creative individual and group assignments, etc.);
availability of a system of links (hyperlinks) to various digital text and graphic educational materials: literary and scientific sources, electronic libraries, dictionaries, reference books and other educational and scientific resources posted on the Internet.
Nowadays, the most common stages in the process of creating a digital textbook are:
design of the course;
preparation of materials for the course;
the layout of materials in a single software package.
The course design consists of pedagogical and technological components:
The pedagogical element is the initial stage of the course design, which reflects the author’s idea about the content and the structure of the course. At the design stage, an extensive program of the subject should be prepared in order to select the educational material, compose a digital text that will form the basis for building a digital textbook, and develop a methodological manual for the course delivering. The pedagogical element can be presented graphically.
The technological component is a description of the information technologies used to implement the pedagogical elements. It also implements the author’s view over the content and structure of the course, its methodological principles and methods of its organization.
Global changes in education requires the creation of digital textbooks, the availability of which will provide the same computer environment for students and teachers, in and out of the classroom. At this point, I would like to draw a parallel with the reform of the European education associated with the invention of printing(Gutenberg, 1440). Medieval schoolboys completely depended on their mentor, because only he owned information. Gutenberg’s invention of printing made the source of information (the book) equally accessible to everyone, which fundamentally changed the education system. A book, a pen and a paper – all this became owned by both the teacher and the student, in and out of a classroom.
What is an e-book?
There is an important number of definitions of an e-book. According to Diaz (2003) it is an interactive system through which information is delivered. Oxford dictionary suggest that e-book is an electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose. Magnik (2001) defines an e-book as any digitalised document which is available to readers on a portable storage medium.
Lynch (2001) distinguishes between three different interpretations of the term e-book:
an e-book as digital content which can be transported on a portable storage medium or via a computer network;
an e-book reading device, i.e. an appliance which is capable of displaying digital content on a high-quality display screen and is not equipped with a keyboard; and
computer software, i.e. computer applications, which will permit one to read electronic content, e.g. on the regular desktop computer.
However, the conversion of a paper book into the digital format does not provide the learning process with much improvement (Davy, 2007).
Allison (2003) classified e-book into three categories:
Simple e-textbooks, which are downloadable versions of conventional textbooks.
Complex e-textbooks which contain hyperlinks to select external audio od video components, supplementary texts or websites, or hypermedia elements incorporated directly into their content.
Advanced e-textbooks combine a multitude of audio-video components which accompany the content with an element of interactivity, whereby the reader is given the opportunity to search through and use the features available, depending on their individual needs (Allison, 2003).
For this investigation we have followed the list of criteria designed by Carden’s (2008) to evaluate e-textbooks for language education and added some functional criteria to complete the list.
Layout and design
Does the layout of the e-book mimic the paper book or is it a cyberbook publication?
Does the e-book contain an informative cover, featuring the name of author, the title, the date of publication, and the publisher’s details?
Does it have a clearly defined or user-friendly layout (sections, chapters)?
Is it accompanied by a table of contents which provides an introduction to the content as well as the layout?
Is the content laid out on pages or within scrollable areas?
Are particular sections of the content (e.g. pages) labelled clearly through page numbering or any other system?
Does the interface feature other navigation clues which make particular elements of content accessible?
Are colour schemes used to aid searching?
Are the fonts visible?
Is the content indexed, so that necessary details, e.g. names or terminology, can be easily accessed?
Content and functionalities
Is the content delivered in manageable chunks, given the format of the e-book and the functionalities of the e-reading device?
Are related elements of the content hyperlinked?
Are multimedia/hypermedia part of the e-book?
Do the multimedia/hypermedia enhance the content and constitute added value?
Is the e-book equipped with an advanced search tool which permits the reader to take a variety of search routes and use a range of search queries?
Can the reader customise elements of the e-book to his own liking/needs?
Are bookmarking and annotation tools available to the reader?
Is the content supplemented with extra online materials, e.g. multimedia or companion websites?
Does the e-book feature usage data mining functionalities?
Can the e-book function as: a database, a narrative, a set of learning objects, a package of viewable resources or as imagery?
Device, format and distribution
Does the e-book require an e-reader which is relatively cheap and available?
Is the e-book file format open, i.e. will it be read by multiple brands of reading devices or a desktop computer?
Are reading rights restricted in any way, e.g. through a digital rights management (DRM) system?
Is the retail distribution of the format restricted in any way?
In the light of the characteristics described above, let us consider the structure of several English digital textbooks published in recent years:
New Language Leader (Upper Intermediate)
Market Leader (Upper Intermediate)