Designing PeBL Books

This manual outlines how to implement PeBL functionality in eBook content. PeBL's mission is to encourage the widest range of innovations, both in the technology itself and the instructional approaches that are supported; it supports a wide variety of users and use cases. Because PeBL's uses are so varied, it is beyond the scope of this manual to present a preset workflow for the design PeBL books. PeBL uses an open standards-based architecture, modular design, and a la carte implementation approach to adding PeBL book functionality via "extensions".

This manual assumes that you already have a design concept in mind that benefits from the features PeBL adds to your eBook. PeBL is fully ePub3 compliant so you can create a standard eBook with the PeBL platform, but PeBL allows for more effective and engaging content for readers, platform interoperability, data gathering, and much more.

If you plan to build new new PeBL extensions, these high-level questions should be answered before engaging in technical spec and design work:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What are the goals and objectives?
  • What kind of experience will take place (e.g., procedural tasks vs applying judgment) and at what level (e.g., basic, advanced, etc.)
  • What is the prerequisite knowledge for learners?
  • How and where will the extension be used?
  • What data will be gathered (if applicable)?

A very detailed flowchart of the design process for mobile learning applications (i.e., applicable to PeBL books) is available here. It covers these questions through the framework of an instructional design reference model.

In addition to the above questions, depending on the kind of PeBL book you are creating and the extensions you plan to use, there are some particular design questions unique to PeBL book designers. If you are a standard eBook author, these are unlike anything you have dealt with in the past; if you are an instructional designer for web-based or mobile eLearning, these may be outside your realm of experience as well.

  • Will content adapt to the learner, and if so, how? Some options are:
    • The user chooses alternative versions of blocks of content via extensions like content morphing and show/hide. The different versions of blocks of content are locally stored in the book.
    • Instead of or in addition to the user choosing which alternative content to show, an instructor or stakeholder does this (via above extensions being controlled remotely). As in the case above, these content blocks are locally stored.
    • Same as above, except that these content blocks are not predetermined and locally stored in the book; they are generated dynamically and pushed to the individual user's book (possibly not limited to specific placeholder locations)
    • An embedded adaptive system (like an intelligent tutoring system (ITS)) presents alternative content, exercises, dialogue, etc. within its particular enclave inserted the book.
  • What content do you wish to socialize (e.g., ask learners to post responses to a question related to and inserted inline with a particular passage) with other learners? As of this writing, a Discussion extension is available to do this.
  • Are there advanced interactive media objects beyond video and animations that are available and that could provide rich learning experiences within the book? This includes virtual immersive environments (VIEs) including simulations, games, and virtual worlds. Currently no extensions are built for this, but PeBL APIs such as W3C Widgets support embedding these objects.
  • Are there external systems that deliver learning experiences (i.e., virtual like a flight simulator, or physical like a virtual lab) that users of the PeBL book could control from within the book (using an extension or widget)?

The answers to both sets of questions presented in this section will determine the following:

  • The learning activities you will incorporate into the book and how you will implement them
  • What extensions you need (and need to build, if they are not already available)
  • What PeBL Tier you need to target (i.e., what support you may need from cloud services and/or eReader)