17 June 2012
Six Apps developed by students (and staff!) at the PublishOER student App development day were deemed excellent, and invited to present to senior managers at Elsevier.
Computer science students were invited from all over the UK to participate in a challenge to take Elsevier text book content from the veterinary field and reimagine how it could be presented in a mobile or other digital environment. The brief asked them to escape from the classic idea of simply uploading PDF files to create a digital version. Students from Newcastle and Nottingham took up the challenge and holed up in Jury's Inn, Newcastle, for 28 hours to see what they could produce.
Video presentations illustrating the outcomes are available linked from a later blog post.
Veterinary was chosen as a focus as it is a concentrated area with a very wide range of product types - classic text books, atlases, specialised dictionaries, etc. After an hour of intial discussion to 'goal sharpen' and take questions the students got down to business with considering how to represent the source materials as new products.
Figure 1. Early stages: discussing the design of mobile interactive flashcard questionnaires with input from Elsevier and the Royal Veterinary College.
A team from Nottingham University worked together on a java product. At least two books (or was it three?) were mashed up to allow you to navigate from a term through a paragraph (context) to an image, or from an image through a paragraph to a term. Of course it was a complex many to many relationship so they did really well to get the navigation right in such a small space! They took away a share in the first prize.
Figure 2. Nottingham students Viet, (Chris from the RVC) Tuong and Son consult how several of the textbooks could link together. Elsevier books and toys (bugs and bottles) were evident everywhere. To purchase the products pictured see http://amzn.to/KQq1sD, http://amzn.to/Pi8kHF and http://amzn.to/M3u1tA (sorry for bugs and bottles you had to be there on the day).
A collaboration of Newcastle and Nottingham students came to grips with the Elsevier flashcards (quizzes) that can be sorted by species (e.g. horse) or anatomical part (e.g. leg). Having designed an interface that allowed users to interactively test their knowledge they independently developed Windows, Android and Apple iPhone versions. The beauty of this product was in splitting the flashcards into bitesized chunks that could be sold based on e.g. species. Raul was voted 'most likely to succeed' as our new Head of School, due to his excellent presentation.
Figure 3. Stephen (Newcastle), Alex (Nottingham) and Raul (Newcastle) had a hard task of making mobile versions of interactive quiz maps, however they beautifully ilustrated what could be done, and made attractive to a potentially whole new market on a range of devices. To purchase the Flashcard product pictured see http://amzn.to/MlEJu8.
Jagdeep took away the other share of first prize for his App that presented ePub files on a mobile with social bookmarking. Here the trick was taking whole books and splitting them into managable, reading-sized chunks and enabling social annotation and sharing. To add a new book you just need to dropped it in the folder and the software picked it up and added it to the library.
Figure 4. Jagdeep was working on his own for this task.
James argued 'it couldn't be done' until a few suggestions from Tony sparked some excellent ideas and he ended up layering a veterinary dictionary over a text book so that any defined term was highlighted in the text book (with the definition available as you hovered over it). It also allowed you to search on paragraphs (plus or minus two to provide some context), making the textbook perfect for dropping into Dynamic Learning Maps to create a completely new resource. This approach would work for any dictionary product. Well done James.
Figure 5. Tony and James contemplate how to get rid of the pesky embedded HTML in XML files. Much nose-scratching was needed to develop a mashup of two different books to make a new product.
Of course the rest of the staff were not to be left out. Here staff from MEDEV (Suzanne), the Royal Veterinary College (Chris), Elsevier (Graham) and Newcastle University (Kate) share a joke while the effort continues around them. James spotted the camera and has leaned back a bit to the left, while Dan (Newcastle) had chosen the teacher's table when he arrived (far, far away).
Figure 6. Staff share a joke while the clock counts down on the students in the background (and Dan was supervising everyone from the front).
Graham Isaacs, Ollie Lawrence (not shown) from Elsevier, Chris Trace from the RVC and Tony McDonald from Newcastle University undertook the judging and after much debate surrounding all of the entries (James was disqualiifed on grounds that he was staff, and everyone saw through his fake moustache) they settled on Jagdeep and the Nottingham Team as joint winners. It wasn't an easy decision as all entries were outstanding and each had their supporters for a variety of reasons.
Thanks to everyone, especially Gillian (not shown), Victor (not shown) and Suzanne in MEDEV for organising, RVC for promoting and Elsevier for sponsorship for a fantastic event and a very successful outcome.
Related tags: #studentappday, access, app, books, Development, Elsevier, ePub, ePub3, mashups, OER, oer phase 3, publishOER, social media, textbooks, ukoer
Posted by: Megan Quentin-Baxter
- 19 June 2012 @ 11:09:28
Thanks for a very inspiring post! There's no mention of how copyright was handled, so I'm wondering if there was some negotiation with Elsevier around publishing any of these mobile items under open licences?
- 19 June 2012 @ 11:26:30
Hi Gabi, thanks for the comment! Ownership of the *software* remains the property of the student generating the App, with a view to Elsevier having first refusal for licensing it from them (if we get that far) if they like it. That would give Elsevier the opportunity to exploit the software (paying royalties as appropriate) as a vehicle for selling their book content.
Obviously it would be nice if some was free but at least if some of it is in much smaller chunks (such as 'by species') then the unit cost of each part can be much reduced. Some of these products create new markets for, for example, dictionaries because they could be bundled with every digital book sold.
It would be lovely if some of this could be OER but let's look at driving down the unit cost (in favour of more sales) as a way of generating that discussion.
- 19 June 2012 @ 14:53:33
Thanks Megan - it's nice to see creative ways of making copyrighted materials more affordable.
- 30 June 2012 @ 18:46:13
This is a great blog post Megan, really tells the story well! I'm currently linking the WikiVet newsletter to this so interested parties can head over and read more. It was a lot of fun, not all hard work. Very inspiring how much these guys managed to get done in such a short amount of time.
With regards to some of the above comments around OERs, i think it would be great if some of these app's were available free with a limited amount of content - you'd then be able to purchase more content to bring into the app.
- 30 June 2012 @ 19:42:45
Thanks Chris, great to hear from you and thanks for all your help on the day. I heard a few of them are continuing to work on their stuff.
I'll be doing another blog linking to their presentations as those are all edited and ready to send live. Thanks to all the students for their permission to post them, and for the screen snaps.
I like the comment about some free content that you could top up, I will try mentioning that on Tues at the Elsevier summer conference. Cheers Chris.