Author Dr Stephanie McBurney Level 2
Email - Scale of activity module
School No. students 40
Module BMSC2227 Experimental skills in neuroscience Comments 0 (view)
Year activity took place 2012 / 2013  

Case study - Evaluating the use multimedia interactive eBooks in the lab environment


Students taking the module BMSC2227 experimental skills in neuroscience were provided with iPads pre-loaded with multimedia eBooks and apps. The eBooks were based on pre-existing materials available to students. We conducted research to evaluate students’ uses of eBooks and apps and measure engagement after using eBooks.


● Produce interactive multimedia eBooks from existing learning materials;
● Produce tutorials on apps;
● Evaluate students' use of eBooks in the lab;
● Measure student engagement with using eBooks;


The first stage was creating eBooks and configuring the iPads with appropriate apps. The eBooks were created by an intern and final year project students. They were based on pre-existing materials. They were designed using iBooks Author on a MacBook. They included text, images, videos, galleries, and MCQs.

As well as creating the eBook the students also created additional videos and images. (These were all made available through the VLE as well as in the eBook). The iPads were configured with a number of apps that were relevant to study for example PubMed, Mobile Learn, UniLeeds, Soundnote and Mendeley.

We also created tutorials on how to use the apps i.e. how to open a file in Mobile Learn, annotate it, and save it. These tutorials were created in Articulate Storyline and made available on the iPad through the Articulate Player app.

The next stage was designing the data collection. Three surveys were designed:

● one to collect background information (students completed this survey when they were given the iPads)
● one to collect information on use and perceptions of the eBook (students completed this at the end of each lab class)
● one to collect information on use and perceptions of the apps (completed once a week)

Additionally structured interviews were completed in each lab session to gain more data.

Students were given information about the research in advance of the module and given the choice not to take part. Upon receiving the iPad students were given an introductory session explaining the project, and a guide to using the iPad, apps and eBooks.

The eBooks have been made available as Open Educational Resources through Jorum.


Results showed that eBooks were positively received by students - with the majority of students consistently agreeing that they liked the design, they were informative, easy to navigate and interesting. The most popular element of the eBooks was their design - with an average of around 90% of students agreeing they were designed well. Students used the eBooks for an average of around 30 minutes in each practical class.

The most popular app was Safari. This was followed by Soundnote, PubMed, MobileLearn and Facebook. These apps were all similar to existing applications students used on their computers. Students indicated they enjoyed using the devices, however they would have welcomed a more in-depth and practical training session in using the devices. This suggests that students would welcome further guidance, such as the app tutorials provided, on how to use a tablet device to enhance and transform their learning, and not just to replace their current techniques with a portable device.

Other info. / Links / Comments

To find out more about how we worked with students to produce the materials, see the slides from our presentation at the HEA annual conference:

This trial was part of a HEA collaborative grant funded project on the use of interactive multimedia eBooks in education. The project blog has more information:

Human cutaneous eBook
Immunofluorescence eBook
Snail brain electrophysiology eBook

iBooks Author

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eBook, iPad