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, 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
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lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
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THE TU GRAZ E-BOOK STRATEGY
FROM CONTENT MANAGEMENT TO ONLINE MULTIPLE DEVICE USAGE

EBNER Martin, NAGLER Walther, WIESENHOFER Karl
Department of Social Learning, Graz University of Technology

SCERBAKOV Nikolai
Institute of Information Systems and Computer Media, Graz University of
Technology

This paper presents an authoring tool for creating content for teaching and
learning purposes at universities in the meaning of e-learning2.0, named the ABC-
Manager. The paper focuses on the advantages of the tool as well as its didactical
background. The current use of the ABC-Manager as an integrated part of the e-
learning strategy of Graz University of Technology especially in the face of its online
version, the e-book platform of the learning management system in use called TU
Graz TeachCenter.
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In times of Web 2.0 (O’Reilly 2006) efforts are made to make it as simple as
possible to support user YOU (Grossmann, 2006) to create and manage online
content. Not only personal information should be provided and treated but also the
one for educational intentions (Ebner, 2007). The range between private and
educational information becomes blurred evidently exercised by using the
possibilities of mashups (Kulathuramaiyer & Maurer, 2007) where the content is put
together from different sources by linking or embedding them (Tuchinda et al, 2008)
(Zang et al, 2008). Nevertheless, creating and managing content as well as
collaborating with it should be as simple as the ABC, instinctually, and without any
special system-syntax needed regardless whether the content shall be part of a
personal learning environment (PLE) (Schaffert & Hilzensauer, 2008) (Taraghi,
2009a) (Taraghi, 2009b), an online office system, a social website, or a “classic”
Content Management System (CMS). Just for a CMS the system should have its
priority on creating and working with but not on developing or programming content.
In the paper we describe a strategy for editing, managing, and working with
multimedia content realised as e-books within a university given structure. The aim is
to enable various possibilities to arrange already existing content as well as new
content to an e-book and have it released in different output formats including those
for e-readers or smart tablets such as the iPad. For this purposes two platforms are in
use: The TU Graz TeachCenter (TUGTC), which is the learning management system
(LMS) of TU Graz and the special authoring software called ABC-Manager
developed by the Department for Social Learning (DSL) at TU Graz. To understand
urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0

the strategy first a short look must be taken at the entire e-learning concept of TU
Graz and the way it is embedded within university-wide policy.
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The DSL is a service centre for all non profit internal and external questions
regarding e-learning at the TU Graz since 2006 whereas the focus is on the
possibilities of networked based, communication guided teaching and learning
processes to stay sustained integrated into TU Graz. Technology enhanced learning
(TEL) – simply called e-learning – is one chance to support the individuality of the
learners study as well as to enable, coach, and attend a customized offer of modern
facilities for teachers to teach. This concept excellently fits into the principles of TU
Graz to encourage its students and teachers with best didactical and up-to-date
technological assistance for their study. To understand today’s TU Graz Teaching
and Learning System displayed in Fig 1, it must be said that this term comprise a
couple of different platform and services. The basis of the whole system is the so
called TUGRAZonline portal. The TUGRAZonline portal is for any administration
purposes providing institutional, systemic, and personal data as well as individual
study or work management (Haselbacher, 2002). It holds the central database of TU
Graz and has been developed at the Information and Technology Services Center
(ITS) of TU Graz which the DSL is a part of. It basis on the internationally awarded
university management software of the ITS, the CAMPUSonline – EUNIS-Elite-
Award and Award of the Austrian University Board – which has been launched in
1998 and is now used at most universities and institutions of education in Austria and
some in Germany.

Fig. 1: System of portals and services in use at TU Graz for teaching and
learning support.

Another platform focuses on the content and communication related teacher’s
demands as well as general university education, the TU Graz TeachCenter. The
TUGTC bases on the so called WBT-Master platform that has been developed by the
team of Prof. Nikolai Scerbakov at the Institute for Information Systems and
Computer Media of TU Graz (IICM) since the later 1990s (Maurer & Scerbakov,
urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0

1996). In 2006 it became the official e-learning platform of the TU Graz. It is directly
connected to the TUGRAZonline system to get user’s and lecture’s data from the
database when needed. It is a highly flexibly and fast running system with an ultimate
possibility to individualization. The TUGTC offers an e-book environment this paper
is about too. For DSL does a lot of research work in the field of e-learning regarding
to technological aspects and didactical scenarios a lot of in-house developments have
been integrated to the TU Graz Teaching and Learning Service System. One of these
developments is the CMS called ABC-Manager that is linked to the e-book
environment of the TUGTC.
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As mentioned before, the system of TUGTC goes back to the WBT-Master that
has been programmed (Helic et al, 2004), tested, and improved by the team of Prof.
Nikolai Scerbakov under the leadership of Prof. Hermann Maurer, head of IICM at
that time. It is a platform of single courses which have their corresponding lectures
registered within TUGRAZonline. TUGTC courses can be restricted, opened, or
semi-opened. Access can be given to anybody not necessarily being member of TU
Graz. There is a mobile version of TUGTC courses for smart phones and smart
tablets. By winter 2012 a third of all lectures at TU Graz are serviced courses on
TUGTC´(more than 1000), up to 400 people are using the system at the same time,
and more than 80GB data are transferred daily.
The advantages of the TUGTC platform unlike to comparable (non-)commercial
systems or open source solutions are not only its autonomy to licenses, versions, and
update options but first of all its philosophy of modular structure. In practice this
means that each course can be individualized and therefore is highly adaptable to the
requests of the single teacher by adding teaching tools and applications or removing
them from the basic course equipment offered. There are far more than 200 items to
be selected for different teaching purposes. The term module in our context must be
understood in a technical and structural way more than in a didactical one; therefore a
module has definitely not the meaning of a learning unit or learning object. Any item,
any entity is meant to be a module and generally can be linked to each other. By
setting a link to a module, different modules are summed up to so called structured
collections (s-collection). They can be seen as single modules also. Therefore a
module is any peace of enclosed content, tool, or structural option, and individual
“item” (media-file, a contribution to a forum, the forum itself, the entire course, one
user …). This system architecture of linked modules ensures a very high solid
performance.
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One of the modular features of TUGTC is its so called e-book environment. For
to avoid misunderstandings, there are a couple of different meanings according to the
urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0

term “e-book” that need to be explained briefly. Currently the most popular
interpretation is the one that equals e-books as content for e-readers. Since Amazon
released its e-reader Kindle the subject e-books boomed at least in the USA, whereas
e-readers slowly capture the market of German speaking countries. The format of
such e-books differs very strongly in regard to the e-reader but is by now dominated
by the formats EPUB and Amazon´s Mobipocket. The second interpretation of e-
books is mainly used in the context of digital libraries. It is the oldest and traditional
meaning of e-books in terms of online available content of written books; usually
those e-books are offered as format PDF but are more and more supplemented by
modern formats such as EPUB. The third meaning of e-books is the one of our
interest in the following and refers to Computer Based Training (CBT) courses of the
90s. CBT presented digital content within a didactical setting and environment a
student can pass through and interact with. The format today is mainly HTML and
therefore can easily be received more or less independently from devices; only a
browser is needed in principle. Therefore an e-book in our context can be primarily
seen as a number of HTML elements combined into reusable, navigable collections
that are displayed within a highly interactive environment. TUGTC e-books can be
released in various formats: online displayed with in the e-book environment (internal
s-collections), as SCORM packages, as a downloadable offline version for CD usage,
as a PDF including personal notes, as EPUB and Mobipocket, as well as mobile
version. According to the different output formats not all multimedia content can be
converted to all formats so far.
The generation of such an e-book can be realised using two different ways. Fig.
2 schematizes the possibilities of e-book generation serviced by DSL. In case it is
done via the TUGTC the author uploads any content-files to TUGTC. The files are
compiled together to an e-book with a table of content. On base of this e-book the
listed output variants can be released or the e-book is embedded in a TUGTC course.
The second way of generating e-books is by using the ABC e-book system of the
DSL. The generation of the content and the compilation of it to a so called ABC e-
book take place independent from the TUGTC using the authoring tool ABC-
Manager. The ABC e-book then can be uploaded to the TUGTC or released as
various outputs.
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The following chapter describes the basic ideas of the ABC e-books system. It
must be said that today’s ABC e-book system goes back to five years of experiences
(2001 to 2006) with a forerunner model developed and extensively used at the TU
Graz Institute of Electrical Power System (IFEA). Actually the labelling of ABC has
its origin during those times but the system developed at IFEA differs from that at the
DSL a lot. In the following the forerunner model will be mentioned as IFEA-ABC
when needed for better understanding.

urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0


Fig. 2: E-books generation via two different ways. Using the ABC-Manager for
generation and possibility of further upload to TUGTC or using TUGTC itself.
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How can you structure and create content for flexible usage?
The primary idea was to split teaching content into small peaces of micro-
content which can be individually and exchangeable arranged together later on
demand. This assembled micro-content can be used for teaching online and offline as
well as for learning purposes (paper printed version) or as a presentation in
classroom. The demand to create a structural design that closes the gap between
presentation and script was to be challenged. The realisation of these requirements is
a pool of standardised stand-alone micro-content units called ABC screens on base of
HTML. Each screen can be attributed to one of different classifications - the number
of different classifications can be adapted if required. The screens get selected to a
collection simply called “course”, the later e-book. Within the later online e-book the
user decides which part of the course should be displayed by choosing one or more
classifications. All those screens assigned to the chosen classification(s) will be
displayed, the others are set hidden. This makes it possible to have them all,
presentation screens as well as script screens within one course. The teacher only
may display the presentation screens during the lecture; the learner may print out the
whole e-book by selecting all classifications.
We call this system the ABC system which goes back to the IFEA-ABC system.
The terming ABC relates to the way the content is structured according to its
importance for the learner whereas A describes the main content, B helps to
understand A better, and C is defined as additional content which the learner does not
need to reflect for examinations but is for deeper comprehension. A- and B-contents
are realised together within standardised ABC screens; C-content can only be reached
urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0

over linking from an ABC screen and may be anything from multimedia-files to
internet-links or documents contributed by students.

Fig. 3: The parts of one IFEA-ABC screen; left without explanation, right with
explanation

Fig. 3 shows one IFEA-ABC screen; once plain (left) and once with explanation
of its parts (right). Besides the A, B, C-content the standardized design of an ABC
screen provides a couple of useful possibilities to optimize the structuring and
presenting of the content. Each screen has fixed dimensions for to avoid scrolling
within the content displayed and to have two screens on one site of a later PDF
output. Furthermore, they fit onto smart tablet screens well. Wildcards lead to lists of
legends, citations, and of questions used for lecture exam as well as to a list of links,
the corresponding C-content of a screen. A whole ABC e-book consists of ABC
screens that are placed within three layers of directories. The root layer has all the
chapters of the e-book. Each chapter consists of several modules – not to be mistaken
for the module-character of the TUGTC structure –, a module consists of units. The
units finally hold the individual ABC screens. The number of screens in one unit shall
suffice for one lecture hour and therefore depends on the content itself and on the
lecturing “speed” of the teacher.
To subsume the didactical advantages of the ABC-system we can state the
following:
• the uniform structure
• the arrangement in three levels that fits in individual teaching habits
• the splitting and classification of content according to its importance,
• the classifying of content according to later purpose
All in all, the ABC-system allows a wide ranged usage as for the lesson in
classroom, for online variant, for offline version, and for the hardcopy paper script
(Fickert et al, 2004) (Nagler, Ebner & Sherbakov, 2007).
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The TU Graz systems described in this paper have a variety of different aspects
and focuses. On the one hand there is the development of an authoring tool for the
urafL verslon, orlglnally publlshed ln: Lbner M., nagler W., Wlesenhofer k., Scerbakov n., 1he 1u Craz L-book SLraLegy: from ConLenL ManagemenL
Lo Cnllne MuLllple uevlce usage, Penpepsunoe o6pasouanue u o6ueeuponeuciou o6pasoua¡ersnou npoc¡panc¡ue (workshop proceedlngs), ur.
lhar Sazonau lnL. al. (Ld.). 3Lh lnLernaLlonal Workshop on Llfelong Learnlng wlLhln Luropean lramework, Mogllev 2014, 134-161. 8elaruslan-8usslan
unlverslLy (Mogllev, 8elarus). lS8n 978-983-492-131-0

generation of well-structured content following didactical principles, the ABC-
Manager. On the other there is the adequate environment to use this content in a Web
2.0 meant way to enlarge the possibilities for teaching and learning, the TUGTC e-
book environment. The overall strategy focusing on embedding, connecting, and
complementing each other systems in use, the TU Graz Teaching and Learning
Service System (Fig. 1) accomplish the big picture.
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