I have looked at e-books on the web, and most seem to be very similar to websites. I’ve been experimenting with different software and am considering using MS Publisher, MS PowerPoint or MS Word. What do you recommend?
The e-book for Unit 1 is meant to be a first stab at producing a document designed to be read onscreen rather than on paper. There is no prescribed format, although a hypertext structure is probably ideal. Any of the software packages you mention could be used, as could simple web authoring packages such as MS FrontPage or Serif WebPlus or professional packages such as Macromedia Dreamweaver.
The important thing is to put the emphasis on design and content, rather than on getting bogged down learning how to use an unnecessarily complex piece of software!
What's the difference between an e-book and an eportfolio?
The e-book is a product of Unit 1 only. It should be a self-contained digital product in its own right, with a common 'look and feel' throughout. An eportfolio, on the other hand, is a collection of evidence. Students will use eportfolios to organise and submit their evidence for each coursework unit. The e-book will be one piece of evidence within the eportfolio for Unit 1.
Can students assume that internet access will still be available in 100 years’ time? The spec say the e-book has to stand alone and be self-contained. Does this preclude students putting in a link to additional information stored on their local network or hard drive?
We want something self-contained and not dependent on files or assets stored locally to which we could not get access.
I am unsure about the exact nature of the evidence students will be expected to provide. For example, criterion (e) for Mark Band 3 is: 'carries out extensive testing and quality control of the e-book to ensure it functions correctly and is fully fit for purpose'. Do students actually have to provide evidence of testing or is the fact that the e-book works fully good enough?
We would expect to see some actual evidence of testing - an initial prototype and the final versions perhaps, along with any feedback received from test users and an indication of what changes were made - if any - as a result of testing. Candidates need to understand the purpose of testing: it is not just a hoop to jump through, but is intended to ensure that the e-book works properly and is fit for purpose. Copious evidence of testing without an e-book that works will not get a candidate into Mark Band 3!
For more information about what candidates must include in their eportfolios for each unit, see the ‘Moderation of eportfolios’ document on the A level Applied ICT course materials page.
I have been busy creating an e-book in MS PowerPoint, which converts nicely into a web page. A colleague is also doing the same using Mediator (Matchware). However, the file which PowerPoint produces is extremely large - 60MB! It contains a few audio files, gifs, a short video etc., but not that many. Is there going to be any limit at all on the size of the eportfolio for Unit 1?
There is a 30MB limit on the size of the unit 1 eportfolio students can submit. 60MB is definitely too big! This highlights the need to include a section on resolution, file formats and compression techniques within your scheme of work for this unit. Incidentally, Mediator will allow you to output in swf format, which is very efficient in terms of size, and you can get PowerPoint to Flash converters that do the same.
The ICT ‘Moderation of eportfolios’ document lists file size limits for each unit. You’ll find it on the A level Applied ICT course materials page.
How will students evidence layout checking, proofreading and changes made as a result of end user feedback? Also, how should they evidence the work for criterion (d) - application of design principles and awareness of audience?
Because we're going to get to 'read' their e-books, we can see for ourselves if they work. Therefore, some of the process evidence traditionally associated with VCE can be dispensed with. Similarly, we'll be able to judge fitness for purpose by looking at the e-book itself.
I want my students to all do an e-book entitled ‘Life in the Information Age’, aimed at a student or adult audience. Is that OK?
Yes - I think students will find it a lot easier to design their e-books if they have a clear sense of audience and purpose.
What exactly constitutes ' sophisticated application of multimedia design principles for onscreen publications'?
We'll be looking for indicators such as:
- an e-book designed with onscreen viewing in mind: layout, font size, colours, composition
- consistent look and feel throughout
- links that work and go where they're supposed to
- consistent, easy-to-use navigation
- good choice and use of digital assets
- awareness of readability, usability and accessibility issues
- evidence of up-front design, such as storyboarding and structure charts.
How will you judge 'awareness of audience and purpose'?
We'll be looking for appropriate language and style, and some attempt at 'setting the scene' for an audience that won't know anything about context.
What represents a range of multimedia components?
More than just text and still images; for higher mark bands, we'd expect to see some use of sound and/or digital video and/or animation.
Can candidates earn more points if they produce their own video, or is it just as acceptable to select existing suitable video files from third parties?
Students have to use a mixture of ready-made and original components, but the specification isn't specific about which type of component, so a student could for example use a ready-made video clip and an image they've created themselves.
I can't decide whether to do the e-book in PowerPoint or Mediator. I have been given 10 weeks to get this unit complete and - given that it is an AS course - the students have knowledge of PowerPoint, and most have it on their machines at home, so I am being swayed towards PowerPoint. Are they more likely to gain higher marks with Mediator?
It’s impossible to say, really. I think they'd probably enjoy using some different software, which may improve their motivation, which in turn could have a knock-on effect on their achievement. But both software packages are suitable for producing an e-book.
Can an e-book be an essay written in MS Word, or a presentation produced in MS PowerPoint with links to websites, multimedia and articles, an appendix showing some of the 'how and where' they found the information, and then a bibliography of sources? This could then be converted to HTML format or to PDF. With regard to sources, do each of the following constitute a different source (one of the six different)? - Extracts from websites/ screen shots/ journal or magazine articles/ newspapers and news websites/ images/ e-books/ books and paper-based sources/ video and sound clips/ quotes from discussion groups?
I think the example eportfolio - even though it's not very good - answers most of these questions. The key characteristic of an e-book is that it is designed to be read onscreen and to take advantage of the medium to offer readers a multi-sensory experience. This one doesn't really do this: it’s more of an essay approach, with the odd image thrown in for good measure, which is why it doesn't get high marks in strands (d) and (e).
I’ve been struggling to get any information on what actually constitutes an e-book, particularly as the specification seems to indicate that it needs to be multimedia, so creating an e-book with a .lit file extension is out. What format does an e-book take? What file extensions can it have and what software could be used to create it?
An e-book is simply a document that is designed to be read onscreen, and which takes advantage of the medium to provide a multi-sensory experience. There are lots of different ways of producing it; MS PowerPoint, Matchware Mediator, Macromedia MX are just a few of the many. Any open file format is acceptable, as are proprietary formats for which there's a downloadable reader/player.
Can you please clarify whether the e-book must only be self-contained within, say, PowerPoint, or whether students can have links to another file? We know they will do this in their eportfolios, but would like clarification for the e-book.
This is an interesting design issue. The e-book should ideally be self-contained, with any related files stored within the same 'walled garden'. URL links to relevant websites are a moot point (and one students need to consider): what's the likelihood of those URLs still being there in 100 years?
I have a problem with the e-book, which mainly stems from its treatment in the new Heinemann textbook. Does it have to be compiled? In other words, if you do it as a website, do you need to convert the site into an 'easy-to-distribute format ...(a) self-contained Windows program’ (p30)?
The e-book must be viewable via a browser. It does not have to be compiled, since its channel for viewing is the web. It's perfectly possible to provide a link to the front page of the e-book without having to go hunting for it, as demonstrated by the one on the tutor support website.
There is no mention of storyboards or navigational charts in the specification. Will they need to be included in the portfolio?
Storyboards and a structure chart are not specifically required, but they do help to demonstrate 'application of multimedia design principles' which is a key requirement of strand (d). We will definitely be expecting to see some evidence of design. That said, it should be possible to infer 'awareness' by looking at and using the final product.
How much detail do students have to include on their storyboards?
A storyboard is usually used as a vehicle for a designer to communicate what he/she wants done so that someone else has enough detail to implement it. However, this is a user-focused unit, and students are producing the e-book themselves. In this case, the storyboard has a slightly different function - it's a planning mechanism: "I'm going to use this colour scheme, this font type, size and style, these images ..." - and it's also a means of communicating the underlying thinking: "I've chosen an image of a lion because it represents independence and pride...".
My students are busy working on their e-books and we have hit the sticky problem of testing. I have told them about user testing and testing against requirements and that side of it is OK. What about all the links? My students have the structure links that make up the e-book but they also have links in the pages to relevant articles on the web, and glossary links. For some students this could result in nearly 100 links in total. Do they have to do a test plan that tests all these links?
We're not looking for a test plan and we're not looking for direct evidence of testing itself. If the book works properly, then we can infer that it has been properly tested for functionality. If it is easy to use and has an intuitive navigation system, then that tells us it's been tested for usability. I question why students have so many live links. What's the likelihood of any of them still being active in 100 years?
Many of my students have created e-books which seem to work fine on our network, but when I take them home they do not work on a stand-alone machine. It may have something to do with how FrontPage is set up on our network. I don't understand what students need to do to make them useable on CD-rom. If we publish the e-books as websites and the moderator looks at the e-books online at our college, they may work then.
It is absolutely essential that students' eportfolios are self-contained and can be accessed from a CD-rom. I suggest you consult your network manager or IT technician to find out what you can do to solve this problem. I suspect it has something to do with the relative and absolute addressing.
The 30MB limit on size is restrictive. How are students supposed to include sound clips and video clips on such a low limit?
In order to stay within the size limit, students will need to think carefully about which components to use in their e-books and will need to use appropriate resolution, file formats etc to make best use of the available space.
Here is a question raised by one of my students. I am posting it mainly because I am impressed that he asked it and it made me think a bit ! "Current copyright law says that the copyright on a piece of music expires 70 years after the artist's death. As the e-book will not be published for another 100 years, could we freely put music from already dead or elderly artists into our e-book and not infringe on any copyright laws?" I told him he had to abide by current copyright laws and assume that the same laws will still exist in 100 years’ time!
A very good question and equally good answer!
Does all of the content have to be on the pages of the e-book or can there be links from the pages to external files? Do any external files have to be web pages?
The e-book pages can contain links to external files, providing these are stored in an appropriate format. These files do not have to be web pages.
Will a working log also help evidence task a?
For the testing, can students include a video clip of using the eportfolio to show everything works?
They can, but if the eportfolio is tested properly then the links, multimedia etc. should work when the moderator reviews the work. It is important for students to test their eportfolios once they are transferred to the CD-rom media.
The Information age
This unit has been designed to explore how the world we live in is constantly changing as a result of new technologies. We live in an age full of data and information which, in many cases, is crucial to our standard of living and overall quality of life.
- To be aware of key technologies used to convey information
- To be aware of how technology allows us to present information in different ways
- To understand how information can be shared quickly, allowing people greater interaction with others
- To understand some of the issues and challenges surrounding the use of technology
What you need to do
Your task is to produce an e-book using Dreamweaver to tell people 100 years from now what life was like in the "Information Age."
This e-book must contain:
- An introduction which makes it clear that you understand the audience and purpose of the e-book
You should also write: