School of Science and Technology 科技學院
Computing Programmes 電腦學系

The Development of an Open Access Textbook Platform

Chan Ka Long

ProgrammeBachelor of Science with Honours in Internet Technology
SupervisorDr. Kelvin Lee
AreasE-Learning, M-Learning and Intelligent Tutoring Systems
Year of Completion2013

Objectives

The project aims to develop an Open Access Textbook Platform. The outcome platform supports both English and Chinese interface. This project is to reduce the cost of textbooks. The students don’t need to use a large budget to buy textbooks. Furthermore, increases the attractive of study. Students feel interested in the process of study.

To achieve the aim, the main objective of the project is to develop an Open Access Textbook Platform that user can share or receive the education resources and customized as a textbook.

The project has defined a number of sub-objectives as follows:

  • User (authors) can create or manage their textbook contents
  • User (teachers) can select the textbook contents and customized as textbooks
  • User (teachers) can design or manage their textbook
  • User (students) can access the textbooks online, or download the textbooks for offline usage, and make a print on demand requests.
  • Support both English and Chinese interface
  • Build up a chat room between teacher and student
  • Support basic reading textbook function in Android device

Background and Methodology

Open Access Textbook Platform is a repository of educational contents. Author create content. The contents are free of charge and available for use. Teacher can receive the educational contents to customize as textbooks, and share with their student. Therefore, the students only need to pay a printing cost for the textbooks, or access the textbook online for free. It can reduce the cost of textbooks.

This project has three distinct user groups. They are Authors, Teachers and Students. Each of the roles has relation with each other. Authors are producers of textbook contents. They can create textbook contents to the Server side (Open Access Textbook). The contents are free of charge and available for use. Moreover, they can manage the textbook contents by update versions. Teachers are consumers of the textbook contents, but they also are producers of textbooks. They can search or comment on the textbook contents, select the available contents and customized them as a textbook. Teachers also can manage or design their textbooks such as cover page, preamble, divide chapters/sections and etc. Furthermore, teachers can teach students in the chat room. Students are the main consumers of this project. They can access the textbooks online, or download the textbooks for offline usage, and make a print on demand requests. Besides, they can chat with their teachers for help. In addition, I develop an Android application for students and teachers can access textbooks in their android devices. The following shows the details:

“Create Textbook” also a key component which teachers can select the textbook contents and customized as textbooks. Teachers can search the textbook contents from the Open Access Textbook Platform. After that, teachers select the available textbook contents and customized as a textbook. The textbooks can share with their students. Therefore, the students only need to pay a printing cost for the textbooks. It can reduce the cost of traditional printed textbooks.

Online Reading is the basic pattern of reading textbooks. Readers can access the textbooks via the Internet. I develop a CKEditor plugin for highlighting keywords. Students also can write down some notes in their textbooks. It is considered a necessity in the process of study. Each textbook is independent. The process of highlight keywords is only affecting on their original textbook. Furthermore, open access textbooks are searchable. Student can use the search function for searching any information, instead of turning page after page. The following shows the details:

Open Access Textbook Platform has an Android application for the reader who can access the textbook in their android devices. Students are able to carry their entire library on one lightweight tablet. It is lightweight and easy to tote around. It also solves the problem that students forget to bring textbook to the school. The following shows the details:

Open Access Textbook Platform is public for use. Needless to say there are many advantages of a user friendly website. That can make a good impression on the user. Open Access Textbook Platform provides a simple but functional environment for the user. Users can find easy to control the system. The following shows the details of the user interface design:

Evaluation

The investigation takes the form of questionnaire to find out the attitudes about this project. The questionnaire survey is absolutely anonymous. The questionnaire template is in the appendix. There are total 72 respondents including 30 students and 42 non-students.

As the figure below shows, about 92% of respondents agree traditional printed textbooks are expensive. That’s mean the lack of textbook affordability has drawn increased attention in Hong Kong. There should have a solution to solve the problem.

According to the figure below, more than 75% of respondents agree that Open Access Textbook Platform is user-friendly. However, there are 24% of respondents disagree on this. I think the lack of support is the main reason to cause the problem. I decide to create a “Support Page” to solve the problem.

According to the figure below, about 78% of respondents agree that Open Access Textbook Platform can reduce the cost of textbooks. It is a satisfactory result for me. On the other side, there also have 22% of respondents are opposed to the plan. I think the reason is study habits are not easy to change. Traditional printed textbooks also have their core value. It should wait for the user to adapt the new environment.

Conclusion and Future Development

Traditional printed textbooks considered a necessity in the process of teaching and learning at school. However, there has a big problem with traditional printed textbook. Booksellers were constantly increasing the price of textbooks every year. Therefore, I am going to develop an Open Access Textbook Platform. The major project aims to reduce the cost of textbooks.

The progress of this project is finished. All objectives have been completed. There are three key components in this project. They are “Create Content”, “Create Textbook” and “Reading Textbook”. Open Access Textbook Platform is a repository of educational contents. The outcome platform is supported both English and Chinese interface. There are three distinct user groups. They are Authors, Teachers and Students. Each role has relation with each other.

There have some limitations of my solution. According to the questionnaire survey in the past, a part of respondents said that study habits are not easy to change. They cannot adapt the new environment immediately. Traditional printed textbooks also have their core value.

Moreover, textbook contents are the important element of this project. There should have enough authors to create textbook contents. Open Access Textbook Platform is too dependent on the source of textbook contents.

In the future work, I would like to develop a painting board for the students. Open Access Textbook Platform has a function which can write down some notes in the textbooks. However, mathematics is including many of graphic table and complex mathematic symbols. Open Access Textbook Platform cannot satisfy their wants in the mathematics lesson.

Copyright Chan Ka Long and Kelvin Lee 2013

Jonathan Chiu
Marketing Director
3DP Technology Limited

Jonathan handles all external affairs include business development, patents write up and public relations. He is frequently interviewed by media and is considered a pioneer in 3D printing products.

Krutz Cheuk
Biomedical Engineer
Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital

After graduating from OUHK, Krutz obtained an M.Sc. in Engineering Management from CityU. He is now completing his second master degree, M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, at CUHK. Krutz has a wide range of working experience. He has been with Siemens, VTech, and PCCW.

Hugo Leung
Software and Hardware Engineer
Innovation Team Company Limited

Hugo Leung Wai-yin, who graduated from his four-year programme in 2015, won the Best Paper Award for his ‘intelligent pill-dispenser’ design at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering’s International Conference on Consumer Electronics – China 2015.

The pill-dispenser alerts patients via sound and LED flashes to pre-set dosage and time intervals. Unlike units currently on the market, Hugo’s design connects to any mobile phone globally. In explaining how it works, he said: ‘There are three layers in the portable pillbox. The lowest level is a controller with various devices which can be connected to mobile phones in remote locations. Patients are alerted by a sound alarm and flashes. Should they fail to follow their prescribed regime, data can be sent via SMS to relatives and friends for follow up.’ The pill-dispenser has four medicine slots, plus a back-up with a LED alert, topped by a 500ml water bottle. It took Hugo three months of research and coding to complete his design, but he feels it was worth all his time and effort.

Hugo’s public examination results were disappointing and he was at a loss about his future before enrolling at the OUHK, which he now realizes was a major turning point in his life. He is grateful for the OUHK’s learning environment, its industry links and the positive guidance and encouragement from his teachers. The University is now exploring the commercial potential of his design with a pharmaceutical company. He hopes that this will benefit the elderly and chronically ill, as well as the society at large.

Soon after completing his studies, Hugo joined an automation technology company as an assistant engineer. He is responsible for the design and development of automation devices. The target is to minimize human labor and increase the quality of products. He is developing products which are used in various sections, including healthcare, manufacturing and consumer electronics.

Course CodeTitleCredits
 COMP S321FAdvanced Database and Data Warehousing5
 COMP S333FAdvanced Programming and AI Algorithms5
 COMP S351FSoftware Project Management5
 COMP S362FConcurrent and Network Programming5
 COMP S363FDistributed Systems and Parallel Computing5
 COMP S382FData Mining and Analytics5
 COMP S390FCreative Programming for Games5
 COMP S492FMachine Learning5
 ELEC S305FComputer Networking5
 ELEC S348FIOT Security5
 ELEC S371FDigital Forensics5
 ELEC S431FBlockchain Technologies5
 ELEC S425FComputer and Network Security5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 ELEC S201FBasic Electronics5
 IT S290FHuman Computer Interaction & User Experience Design5
 STAT S251FStatistical Data Analysis5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 COMPS333FAdvanced Programming and AI Algorithms5
 COMPS362FConcurrent and Network Programming5
 COMPS363FDistributed Systems and Parallel Computing5
 COMPS380FWeb Applications: Design and Development5
 COMPS381FServer-side Technologies and Cloud Computing5
 COMPS382FData Mining and Analytics5
 COMPS390FCreative Programming for Games5
 COMPS413FApplication Design and Development for Mobile Devices5
 COMPS492FMachine Learning5
 ELECS305FComputer Networking5
 ELECS363FAdvanced Computer Design5
 ELECS425FComputer and Network Security5