A "prototype" for the Web-based electronic textbook

by Spyros Reveliotis

Research Objectives

The development of the "prototype" electronic textbook has been the result of a broader project intending to investigate the ability of WWW and Web-based multi-media technology to facilitate the delivery and support of academic courses. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Amy Pritchett, and it was partially supported by the School of Indusrtial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Regarding the "electronic text" concept, the primary issues addressed in this research have been:

Research Methods and Findings

The above stated objectives have been approached as follows:

1. The text notes were initially developed in (LaTex), and subsequently converted to HTML by the latex2html converter. This conversion software is quite robust; some complications can arise from the presence of figures and mathematical text (which is treated as figures). The conversion provides automatic text structuring and hyperlinking, which maps directly to the structure established by the sectioning and cross-referencing in the original text. Hence, good structuring of the electronic text requires careful structuring of the original, more traditional version of the material.

2. The maintainability and reconfigurability of the text material is determined by the latex2html conversion. Specifically, the modularized structure of the HTML text facilitates the local editing of the material, but the same structure, combined with the extensive hyperlinking, render any major editing/restructuring effort rather cumbersome. Additional editing complications can result from the fact that mathematical text is treated as gif figures. All these problems can be overcome, however, if all editing is carried out on the original LaTex document, and the resulting text is subsequently re-converted to HTML.

3. The topic of the developed text - Linear Programming - did not lend itself to very fancy multi-media applications. However, we have provided the ability to the reader to run her own interactive examples, by integrating appropriate software modules at the end of key sections. Some of this software was developed "in house" as JAVA applets, and some was "imported" by establishing appropriate links to other relevant Web sites.

4. In fact, as Web-based technologies become increasingly popular, a large number of very interesting applications, covering a broad spectrum of science and technology has been developed and offered for immediate (remote) use. A primary role of the "electronic text synthesis", is to effectively and efficiently integrate existing and new multimodal material, structuring it to serve the needs of the target course audience.

The Research Result...