Title: Technical considerations in the development of an online platform for open textbooks

Authors: Simon K.S. Cheung

Addresses: The Open University of Hong Kong, 30 Good Shepherd Street, Homantin, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Abstract: Open textbooks are a typical form of open education resources that are freely and openly available from the internet for anyone to use and re-use. As a key element of any open textbook project, an online platform serves at least four purposes. First, it provides a repository for hosting the open textbook contents. Second, it provides functions for users to select and read the textbook contents, both online and offline. Third, it provides functions for users to contribute, revise, remix and redistribute the textbook contents. Fourth, it allows users to rate and comment on the textbook contents. This paper investigates the technical development of an online platform for open textbooks. Through the development of an experimental platform, it is learnt that user friendliness and easiness of use are essential design objectives. While embracing all necessary functional features for operation, the platform should use a simple and concise user interface. It is also revealed that a right balance between user friendliness and functional comprehensiveness is important but difficult to achieve.

Keywords: open textbooks; open education resources; online platforms; open learning; innovative learning; e-books; e-textbooks; electronic texbooks; user friendliness; ease of use; user interface; technical development.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2016.076792

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2016 Vol.19 No.4, pp.362 - 376

Received: 21 Oct 2014
Accepted: 12 Nov 2014

Published online: 01 Jun 2016 *

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