E-Textbook Faculty Learning Community, 2012-13

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E-textbooks Faculty Learning Community': The electronic textbook industry has mushroomed and students now expect to do some of their reading electronically. Several online businesses offer the purchase or rental of e-textbooks. The market includes core higher education titles in electronic form, sometimes at a much lower cost than printed textbooks. Separately, there is a growing market in ibooks, innovative formatting that boast strong media-enhanced content. In addition to text laced with videos, pop up maps, and animated illustrations some ibook publishers have designed extra features such as sticky notes, flashcards, and reader-created quizzes. These publishers usually offer exam copies for professors. Apple is offering a free ibook software for creating your own electronic book and has textbooks for download purchase from its ibook store.

The 2012-2013 E-textbooks Faculty Learning Community will explore ibook publishing of their own plus evaluate the e-textbook market for their courses. It is hoped that their experiences will give guidance to other faculty about assigning electronic reading and about the true availability of desired textbook titles. Please contact Aisha Gabriel, agabriel@smith.edu, if you would like to learn more or to join.

(from http://smith.edu/its/ets/cetlearningcommunities.html ):

Main Reference



A faculty learning community (FLC) is comprised of a group of faculty who meet regularly to discuss and explore a common area of interest. The group defines its scope, schedule, and agenda. ETS will serve as a resource for the learning community and provide support as needed. Each FLC will report on its deliberations at the end of the school year in a forum of the group's choosing. Participation requires a full academic year commitment.


Nat Fortune (Organizer, Physics)
Aisha Gabriel (ETS)
Jamie Hubbard (Religion)
Albert Mosley (Philosophy)
Richard Olivo (Biology)
Dominique Thiebaut (Computer Science)





  • Very brief review of each project represented
  • Discussion of functional requirements for each project
  • Begin to outline steps for completion (and expect outline and timeline to be completed outside of meeting with ETS staff)
  • Identify and agree on research or other actions to take by next meeting

This section is only visible to computers located at Smith College

Meeting Notes

  • Aisha
    • softchalk.com: site to check out
      • They do not have a demo. One needs to ask them for a demo...
      • They have a webinar coming up: Oct 1st, 2012, 3:00 p.m. (next Monday)
    • score.scottsdalecc.edu: this site is linked to a speaker who will be visiting soon.
  • Nat
    • playing with various options. Goal is eBook for advanced physics lab.
    • playing with ePub (scribner--will be purchased for Smith)
    • iBooks Author (Apple)
    • Mathematica. cdf. Demonstrated as working on iPad.
  • Jamie
    • Worries about format, longevity of technology. Data transfer problems.
    • Worries about proprietary containers
  • Dominique:
  • Al
  • Various items mentionned


  • Nat presented a demo of iBook from one of his students.
    • students take note from one class. Example of chemistry notes.
    • student used iBooks author. student used template. Notes contain zoomable image, and a couple quizzes.
    • Other example from Nat. Nat showed intro to Physics example, for iPad. Contains movie at beginning, and outline.
    • Demo of Inkling by Nat. Example of comments people can leave about sections of a book published with Inkling. It seems that there could be a possibility of students posting comments about different sections of a textbook.
  • Aisha did a presentation of Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

11/19/12: Guest Speaker

Robert Moll
  • Robert (Robbie) Moll of the CS Dept. at Umass gave a presentation on his experience of Umass's On-Line Web Learning (OWL) System. Robbie used OWL to publish an e-textbook on the Java programming language: iJava. The textbook is a document that students read, and also contains assessment questions that the student must answer correctly in order to gather points that contribute to their grade in the class.
  • The OWL system is available to 5-college faculty interested in using it. Robbie should be contacted if interested.
  • The system gives the faculty statistics about the students involvement with the material and with the course in general.
  • Some interesting tidbits noted during the talk.
    • Some of the self-paced questions involve random expressions presented to the student who must then evaluate them.
    • No applets are used, but only javascript animation.
    • Dreamweaver is used to generate the narrative for the book.
  • You may find this 1-page document written by Robbie an interesting introduction to his views on on-line education.

Winter Break: Dominique's Exploration

Go E-Textbook Exploration, a somewhat random though organized collection of discoveries made during the winter break 2012-13 by D. Thiebaut.

Misc. Information

Formatting Wiki Pages