CourseSmart has approximately 20 million college students and adult learners taking classes with online Universities and professional programs throughout the United States. The college textbook market is the home of a large number of publishers. Top publishers such as Pearson and Thomson are among the leaders in the field a part of a digital platform called CourseSmart. When Apple launched the iPhone, they decided it would be a great idea to put their textbooks onto the device and later on the Android and iPad. Instead of buying new and expensive textbooks, students can now purchase digital textbooks for a fraction of the price while increasing portability.
Perpetuating helped CourseSmart to create the perfect full package: everything from extensive consulting and research to design, validation, testing, programming, development and analysis. Our client wished for both their students and faculties to be able to access the textbooks from any electronic device. We especially noted the experience of the instructors since they are the ones to recommend and evaluate textbooks to enhance their current curriculum or to prepare for new classes. It was clearly understood from the beginning the importance of having a timely development cycle to ensure new digital platforms would all be completed, tested and launched prior to the beginning of new semester when sales of textbooks boom.
One of the first things Perpetuating had to resolve was the readability of content on a small device. We factored the average time it takes for people to read and how they read to build a user-friendly platform. We created a system where the information is easily accessible with zoom and page ruler functions that can be activated and deactivated for accurate reading.
In the beginning stages of the iPad app development, our first priority was to get a working textbook reader and bookshelf as quickly as possible. In preparation, we carefully documented all features and functions, and make sure the back end web service was accurate and secure to avoid any future technical issues. In addition to focusing on project timeline and functionality, it was equally as important to focus on user testing. Students were recruited for trial testing and provided solid feedback on usability and design.
In the end, Perpetuating created a digital format that was very similar to the actual look of a textbook, with the ability to add and delete notes while reading. Additionally, we accessed CourseSmart’s proprietary platform and technology to implement various security measure to ensure the content is protected while still providing good user experience. We were able to balance the needs of the readers as well as the authors and the publishers. The security measures that were implemented were extensive and detailed.
The technology used was the iOS system via iPhone and iPad. After the final product was built, Tom Hatfield said, “We are quite pleased and happy with the implementation and the iPad design is serving as the model for future platforms and tablet devices for us to extend our reach into the college textbook marketplace.”
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