Title: How usable are eBooks in an mLearning environment?

Authors: Paul Lam, John Lam, Carmel McNaught

Addresses: Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Rm. 302, Academic Building No. 1, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. ' Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Rm. 302, Academic Building No. 1, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. ' Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Rm. 302, Academic Building No. 1, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Abstract: The use of electronic format books (eBooks) is likely to grow as more books are made available electronically, or published in eFormat before release in a traditional paper-based format (pBooks). Little is known about the usability of eBooks for academic reading. At The Chinese University of Hong Kong, a pilot study by five trained reviewers was carried out to investigate the readiness of the technology in terms of how usable and functional the current software is. Key functions were examined, including book organisation, search tool, orientation clues, customisation, bookmarking, highlighting and annotating, ease of reading, reading history and eBook management. Four eBook readers were reviewed: Adobe Reader, Microsoft Reader, eReader and Mobipocket Reader. The authors concluded that the readers exhibited all these functionalities but in varying degrees. Whilst there is considerable potential, there are significant challenges in the technology itself and the approaches needed in the pre-reading process; these will need to be overcome before users will adopt the technology.

Keywords: e-books; m-learning; readiness; ease of reading; Adobe Reader; Microsoft Reader; eReader; Mobipocket Reader; mobile learning; electronic books; book organisation; search tools; orientation clues; customisation; bookmarking; highlighting; annotating; reading history.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2010.031645

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2010 Vol.20 No.1, pp.6 - 20

Published online: 16 Feb 2010 *

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