Is ePub Ready for Learning Management Systems

Some of the frequently asked (or thought if not asked) question in an author’s mind in eLearning industry are:

  • How do I publish my contents to reach my students more effectively?
  • Can I make my contents more interactive using recent advancements of technologies?
  • How can I enhance the experience of learners for my contents?

Though there are many publishing options but ePub has emerged as the chosen one for the eLearning industry. ePub is supported across all major platforms and is rapidly evolving to keep itself up-to-date with current technology. Some of the major features of ePub are showcased in the adjacent diagram.

It is thus evident that ePub has absorbed the recent advancements in technology and therefore is an ideal choice to publish your contents.While ePub is advancing and is gaining support from several corporate, it leaves much to be desired to be compatible format for Learning Management Systems. Web based LMS systems are based on the principles of pedagogy and are best practiced by frameworks like SCORM.ePub in its current form provides a good presentation platform for stories and novels or some other informative texts but to become a channel for learning material over LMS systems it needs to be modified or extended.

Following improvements in ePub would benefit the ELearning industry:

Features of ePub

  • Free and Open
  • Embedded metadata
  • Reflowable contents
  • Supports UTF-8, can support dbcs
  • Annotation on contents in ePub is easier
  • Supports multi-level Table of Content
  • Supports HTML5, CSS3
  • MathML Support
  • Sharable content objects: The sharable content object (SCO) in context of SCORM profiles a resource and provides an interface to communicate the metadata with LMS system. It will be beneficial if ePub’s spine and .opf files could be extended to provide a support for SCO such that its Navigation document gets updated automatically
  • Progress tracking: The tracking of progress in learning material has led to big success of LMS. It will be beneficial if ePub could also evolve to include these
  • Inclusion of tests at the end of modules: Beside the progress of content delivery, the ePub could also be improved to provide tests interfaces so as to track the progress of learner. Some visual cue to show the progress will help in improved planning of further learning.
  • Annotation Migration: ePub provides good support for content annotations. But the support for migration of these annotations when the content is updated is missing. This kind of support will improve user’s experience and trust with ePub based systems.

The eLearning industry has to take a pragmatic approach for enhancing learning effectiveness and the user experience by extending and adapting ePub for publishing contents for LMS systems.



6 Replies to “Is ePub Ready for Learning Management Systems

  1. Hey Asheesh, nice post . You mentioned ePub is an alternative to various publishing options, could you throw some more light on those options?


  2. Thank you Josh,

    Though there are many publishing options but they have some or the other limitation, which I am aware of:

    PDF a common file type is not convenient to read on mobile devices

    Apple iBook is a proprietary format supported on Apple devices only

    Microsoft .LIT is proprietary for windows and windows based mobile devices. Further, MS is no more supporting it

    Mobipocket .mobi and .prc on Kindle became very popular as it was widely supported on Kindle devices and over several platforms through Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. This popularity run ended abruptly in December 2011 as Amazon stopped the support for Mobipocket. I guess the reason for this break up could be that .mobi was based on a binary format and is that of standard Palm Database format file. The content access information was stored in the header of that format and the overall structure became very complex.

  3. Hi Asheesh,

    Please clarify me, does EPUB3 will support for LMS? Means, can we store the user’s information into a server. For example: the interactive answers which is entered by users/students can be stored in a Server?

  4. Hi Veera, thank you for your question.

    Would ePub3 support LMS? Yes, it is completely possible.

    ePub is a file format, just like pdf or docx. And it can be supported by a LMS server. We may have to write an additional server side component for it, so that it can be opened in the user’s browser.
    The server side component can also be enhanced to to save user’s comment and may also be shared with other user(s).

    Hope this explains.

  5. I just wat to take the time to say I am just learner to
    blogging and definitely loved your article . I’m bookmarking
    your article so I can come back and ready it . You have a great collection of articles to refer to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *