Embedded Assessments within eBooks: Interactivity, Accessibility, Connectivity, Security and Standards

Mark Hakkinen, Isaac Bejar, and Gary Feng

Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey USA

In education, the eBook is here to stay as a platform for delivering learning materials. The combination of EPUB and Web technologies offers the opportunity to move the eBook beyond static presentations of print book content to rich, interactive learning experiences. A key aspect of any learning scenario is the assessment of the degree of learning that is taking place. Traditional textbooks with end of chapter quizzes may now evolve into adaptive assessments that present interactive tasks that not only measure whether concepts are mastered, but also shape the presentation of materials to facilitate learning.

To achieve the goal of the eBook as a platform for rich, interactive learning experiences, key technical challenges must be addressed. The capability of including HTML5 applications or widgets within EPUB is a key to integrating assessments. The foundation that EPUB provides for creating accessible reading experiences must effectively integrate HTML5 in a manner that does not compromise or limit accessibility to students with disabilities, and requires support both at the standards, authoring, and reading system level. Support for accessibility guidelines from W3C, such as WCAG and UAAG are crucial, as is addressing unresolved accessibility issues such as image descriptions. Connectivity between an eBook and external resources, such as test item repositories or scoring services, or to share student progress with parents or teachers, can enhance the learning experience. The technical means for providing connectivity in a secure and robust fashion will be an important extension for the eBook in the educational context. Finally, standards outside of W3C and IDPF, such as the IMS Global Consortium's APIP, AfA, and QTI will have relevance and potential for collaboration.  In addition, the recently released Common Core State Standards promise to become the lingua franca among educators for discussing student achievement. Such standards can potentially enable reporting on eBook-based learning in a form that can be immediately used by educators, which can potentially lead to increased adoption of eBooks in the education sector.