Platform-Agnostic Interactive eBook: The Next Big Thing is Here!

This blog post covers insights into the emerging trend of platform-agnostic interactive eBook. We will discuss the following questions in this blog post:

  • Why to make eBooks “interactive”? What are the benefits of the interactive version?
  • What types of eBook are most effective in the interactive avatar?
  • Any difference in the development process of interactive eBook from the conventional version?
  • How much interactive eBook would cost, compared to its conventional version?
  • Finally, why it’s the next big thing?

eBooks are one of the most widely used formats for consuming digital content. And in its current form it’s very easy to produce as well – at the simplest, just make a PDF and that’s it! eBook readers were used to these flat page turners, until iPad came along. Today, devices like iPad and the whole world of tablets have opened up a great opportunity for eBook readers to “experience” the content, by virtue of innovative interactive means, and not just “read” it. Interactive eBook is a new paradigm.

eBooks are all around us, for all types of content – be it trade publications, or educational content. Out of these two, educational eBooks are best suited for interactive version. Imagine reading about various forms of triangles and actually “constructing” them as you read. Or, instead of just reading about the human anatomy, you are able to keep labeling various parts of a human body and test your learning. There are unlimited possibilities to bring alive the eBook with the help of learning interactions and multi-media elements.

Want to experience interactive eBook first hand? Write to bijoy@harbingergroup.com to see some great examples. Alternately, you could listen to Bijoy showcasing interactive eBooks @ the Learning Technologies 2013 conference [London, 29-30 Jan 2013, Stand # 15] or meet Bijoy @ the Tools of Change 2013 conference [New York, 12-14 Feb 2013, Booth # 104].

Development process of the interactive educational eBook is not different from the conventional process of developing interactive educational content. Starting point remains with subject matter and the learning goals. Next is instructional design process, to create storyboards and to identify the interactive and multi-media elements to be in the eBook, and finally authoring the eBook, packaging and publishing. For interactive eBook developers, good news is that no new learning curve is needed. But yes, as far as authoring and packaging of the eBook is concerned, the development platform / language / tool would depend upon whether the eBook would require supporting multiple devices & platforms, or a particular or proprietary device / platform. HTML5 is by far the most preferred option, since it allows the output to become accessible on multiple devices & platforms. But, other tools such as iBook author could also be suitable if the eBook to be made specifically for the iOS platform. Are you curious to know if your current development process can support producing interactive eBook? Write to deepali@harbingergroup.com for guidance.

Alright! So far we have discussed the educational benefits of interactive eBooks and that developers won’t necessarily need to learn anything new to produce interactive eBooks. But, now the real business viability question: would it cut a deep hole in the pocket, both for the developers as well as for the customers? Well, it would cost more than producing a flat PDF for sure, but how much more, that would entirely depend upon the level of interactivity and multi-media elements. Have a question about how much your eBooks may cost to turn them interactive? Write to info@harbingerknowledge.com for help.

So, should you or should you not invest in interactive eBook? Let’s remember only this: there are already millions of children and adult in the world [and the number is growing rapidly, everyday!] who are now used to the highly enriched, engaging and interactive experience of consuming digital content. Flat page turner won’t cut it for them anymore. So, be prepared to give them what they want before they reject what you have to offer!

Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – Session #1: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing

As we had mentioned in our previous post, Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, in its first edition, has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business.

And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

In a freewheeling chat with Kim, we learnt many interesting facts about educational outsourcing. She strongly emphasized the need for quality, transparency, trust, consistency, domain knowledge and creativity. Educational Outsourcing in not a factory business and should not be termed as a BPO [Business Process Outsourcing].

Given below is the link to the audio recording of the interview by Bijoy Banerjee, AVP – Business Development. We look forward to reading your comments on this post or you can also write to us at info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Session #1 | Aug 2012
Topic: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing
Expert: Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.
Podcast duration: 12.5 minutes

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Harbinger at the Training 2012 Conference & Expo

– An account by Mona Sharma, DGM – Projects, and Exhibitor at the Conference

Date: February 13-15, 2012

Venue: Atlanta, GA, at the Georgia World Congress Center

Visitor’s Profile: Professional trainers, consultants, and academics, HRD professionals and senior executives, Instructional designers & other related professionals.

Exhibitor’s Profile: Business Development Services, Training and Talent Development Services, Authoring and Publishing Platforms, Custom Content and Communication Services, Learning and Performance Services, Digital Literacy and Desktop Productivity Assessment Services, Train the Trainer Workshop and Consulting Services, Distance Learning, Employee Selection & Orientation, Ethics, Leadership Training, Motivation, Presentation Skills, Problem Solving, Project Management, Team Building & Performance, Videoconferencing, Writing Skills, Translation services, Training Documents Development Services.

The training 2012 conference & expo was an event designed for learning, training and performance professionals. It was a midsized conference with approximately 700 – 800 attendees. There were around 65-70 vendors exhibiting in the expo hall, a varied mix of vendors, providing content development services, transcription and translation services, technology solutions, train the trainer services, corporate training and corporate entertainment services too! It was very encouraging to witness that people worldwide were taking learning and training so seriously.

With the assurance that we were at the right place at the right time, we got busy with setting up the booth, the fun and creative part of the exhibition booth preparations, where we presented our eLearning Products and Custom Content Development Services.

We exhibited Raptivity, our interactivity building tool which allows you to quickly and easily create elearning interactions such as games, simulations, brainteasers etc. and embed them directly into your online courses. There are around 170+ interaction templates to choose from to make your elearning courses interactive.

Along with our products, Harbinger also presented its Custom Content services offerings. Visitors showed keen interest in experiencing our expertise in content development using Flash, HTML5, Lectora, Articulate, ToolBook and our own tools Elicitus and Raptivity. All our learning solutions got an overwhelming response.

 

Edumercials: One of our unique offerings was development of ‘Edumercials’- short for Educational Commercials, which are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and put across a concept in an interactive way. Edumercials can be used as standalone just-in-time learning pieces or they can also be integrated within elearning courses to make the courses more engaging. Quite a few visitors signed up for the raffle to win a 5-minute free edumercial.

Single Source Solution for Mobile Learning: Our mobile learning conversations led us to discussions about the platform independent ‘Single Source’ solutions being offered for mobiles and laptops. The iPad demos and especially the interactive e-Book, was well appreciated by everyone. Many were surprised to see Flash based animations, video and audio integrated in an eBook developed in HTML5.

Interactive ILT: Some visitors who engaged in virtual classrooms or face to face training were interested in our Instructor Led Training services where in we offered to instructionally and visually enhance their presentations and develop facilitator and student notes for them.

We had an exclusive range of elearning samples for both desktop/laptop and mobile tablets ranging from Product, Process, Soft skill and Leadership and Management training to K-12 training. All these samples were also made available on our showcase so that they could be viewed at leisure. (https://showcase.harbingerknowledge.com/ ; Username: training2012-visitor; Password: password1!)

Visits by the Industry Expert: Well known speakers and thought leaders from the industry visited our booth and were impressed with our instructional approach and the apt use of interactivity in our courses.

The expo ended after two full days of meeting new people, interesting conversations and demos and assurances of exploring a new relationship with Harbinger! Through Harbinger I have attended other International Conferences in North America and visited customer sites for project discussions, however this was the first time I experienced being a presenter in the conference booth.

I would say I experienced a very different Valentine Day’s eve by connecting with many new people and prospects! I look forward to meet with them again in the next upcoming conferences!! Till then bye and enjoy the new ways of Learning!!!

Harbinger Makes an Impact with “Single Source” Mobile Learning Solution @ the Learning 3.0 Conference

In October 2011, Harbinger attended the Training Magazine’s Learning 3.0 conference in Chicago. Harbinger was a sponsor-partner in this event. Bijoy Banerjee, Associate Vice President – Business Development presented on Mobile Learning.

In a post conference debriefing, Deepali Tharkude, Associate Vice President – Content Development spoke with Bijoy about his take on the conference, state of Mobile Learning, trends, challenges and finally, how the audience perceived Harbinger’s emerging leadership role in Mobile Learning and its pioneering “single source” solution.

Here is an excerpt:

Deepali: So Bijoy, how was the conference and your sessions?

Bijoy: The conference was very good, Deepali. All got ample opportunity to exchange knowledge and network. I presented twice – 4th and 5th Oct. The session details can be viewed here.

On 4th Oct I spoke on: Single Source Content strategy – eliminating the eLearning / Mobile Learning divide.

On 5th Oct I presented: How to choose native app or browser based delivery for mobile learning – A hands on guide.

The audience turnaround in the sessions was highly encouraging on both days. In fact, combining both days, the turnaround was about 30% of the entire conference audience and that’s a lot!

Deepali: Wow! That’s a great turnaround, Bijoy. What were the reasons, you think?

Bijoy: I realized this high level of interest and turnaround for the sessions was due to the following reasons:

  1. Mobile Learning has grown from the exploratory phase to the actual implementation phase in many organizations. As a result, there is natural drive to learn ways, means and the innovations for successfully implementing mobile learning.
  2. There is a huge demand for the “right” knowledge about implementing mobile learning in the most efficient, scalable and risk-mitigated way. People are looking for expert guidance and support in the design and development of quality mobile learning solutions and delivery mechanisms.
  3. Solutions to: (1) running the same content across all mobile devices as well as desktop/laptop (i.e. platform agnostic content) and (2) decide when and how to go for WebApp or Native App.

Taking clue from the post-session followup chats, I realized that the sessions addressed these expectations.

Deepali: Excellent! Would you please share a bit on the “single source” topic you presented?

Bijoy: Yes, sure. With the exploding growth and acceptance of mobile devices for learning and education, new set of challenges have surfaced; most significantly, developing content to run on all mobile platforms, as well as desktop/laptop.

Creating content separately for each device, operating system and browser is not a viable option, as you can understand. Instead, the content should be developed once, and then push from the LMS, website or Apps, playable online or offline, should be track able, and finally, must be accessible by multiple devices and their browsers – a content that can meet all these is “single source”, also known as, platform agnostic content.

The audience was particularly impressed when I did a quick demo of an interactive on-boarding course we developed, purely in HTML5.

HTML5 content having visual richness and instructionally sound interactivities is not a very common knowledge, so the audience was pleasantly surprised to see example of a course that was seamlessly accessed from LMS and iPad, followed SCORM compliance and used variety of interactivities and multimedia assets.

Deepali: Yes, Bijoy. In fact, I hear the same ‘WOW’ from our customers! Now, for our reader’s benefit, would you please describe how Harbinger is positioned in single source?

Bijoy: Actually, Harbinger is one of the pioneers in the design and development services of single source content and today, Harbinger commands a leadership position in this domain.

Back in early 2010, when Flash-based development was still the de-facto trend, Harbinger envisioned rapid growth in platform agnostic content and the role HTML5 would play.

Though it was new back then, but Harbinger invested heavily in R&D and developed cutting edge competencies in HTML5 based content development. Soon pilot projects followed for various customers, and by the end of 2010, Harbinger had several success stories of HTML5 based interactive content that were accessible from the LMS, App, desktop, laptop, tablets, smart phones, online, offline and were track able as well.

Till date Harbinger has executed several large scale “single source” projects and continues to find great traction from customers. I realized that Harbinger stands distinctly differentiated in the single source domain due to the following:

  1. Early knowledge and R&D: Harbinger got on the boat much earlier and had spent considerable time in R&D and pilot process. As a result, Harbinger has passed through the learning curve, has first-hand knowledge of the challenges in HTML5 based content development and has found solutions.
  2. Demonstrated success: Success talks! After developing hundreds of courses as single source on variety of topics and interactivity levels, Harbinger has mastered the HTML5 technology and its effective use in interactive content development.
  3. Quality like Flash, but no Flash: Many a times you must have heard that HTML5 has limitations in creating the visual richness and interactivity compared to Flash; that’s not entirely wrong actually, but through rigorous R&D and project experiences, Harbinger has been able to explore HTML5 to the extent that unless you are told, you will not be able to make out whether the content is developed in Flash or HTML5!

So yes, Harbinger indeed has a great early mover advantage and has already acquired concrete experience in cutting edge HTML5 based single source / platform agnostic content development.

Deepali: Can our readers access your presentations and review the HTML5 examples? 

Bijoy: Absolutely! The presentations are available in the below links:

  1. Single Source Content Strategy: Eliminating eLearning / Mobile Learning Divide – http://tinyurl.com/Single-Source-Mobile-Learning
  2. Native App or Browser-Based Delivery for Mobile Learning – A hands-on Guide – http://tinyurl.com/Native-or-WebApp

And for examples, readers are welcome to reach me at bijoy@harbingergroup.com. I would also encourage readers to visit the mobile learning page in Harbinger website.

Deepali: Excellent, Bijoy! Thank you very much. Look forward to more on single source.

Bijoy: Thank you, Deepali. Yes, I will keep the readers posted.