Interactive e-books and Flipped Math: A Research Study

*This article by Dr. Gwo-Jen Hwang is a summarization of the work reported in Hwang, G. J., & Lai, C. L. (2017). Facilitating and bridging out-of-class and in-class learning – an interactive e-book-based flipped learning approach for math courses. Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 184-197.

In this article, an interactive e-book-based flipped learning approach is presented. It facilitates and bridges out-of-class and in-class learning by providing support for interactive learning contents presented on mobile devices in the form of interactive e-books. In this application, the interactive e-book-based flipped learning environment was developed with HamaStar SimMAGIC. The e-book system consists of both cloud resources and cloud services. The system software refers to the software which the teachers can use to develop and manage e-book contents. The cloud services provide public or personal information to both teachers and students. The public information consists of the e-books that are available for every user, while the personal information represents the individuals’ readings, their personal learning logs, and performance on tasks. The information sharing service is also provided for students or teachers to share their notes or tasks with a specific user.


Figure 1. Structure of the interactive e-book environment

Figure 2 shows the interface of the e-books and some knowledge descriptions and videos provided by teachers in the e-books. Students can learn class materials wherever they are. Moreover, some of the learning tasks developed by the teachers were also embedded in the corresponding e-books. In other words, students can learn content knowledge and solve the learning tasks on the same platform. Also, interactive feedback is provided to students when they fail the tasks, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 2. e-book knowledge description and video watching functions


Figure 3. Interactive feedback provided to the students

Additionally, students can take some notes as they learn. For instance, they can use the brush to mark any concepts they have trouble understanding, and they can write some notes on the e-books, as shown in Figure 4. They can also share their notes with their peers. More importantly, they can bring the e-books along with the notes they have taken to class so as to facilitate their learning in the forthcoming in-class activities.


Figure 4. Interface of sharing notes during the learning process

The e-book system also provides an additional function for teachers to realize the learning status of the students, so that proper in-class remedial instruction or activities can be provided accordingly. For example, the number of mistakes students make in solving each math question at home after learning with the e-book are recorded and summarized to help teachers determine whether additional instructions are needed in the class, as shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5. Summary of students’ at-home learning status

The effectiveness of the approach has been evaluated in an elementary school math course by engaging a class of students in flipped learning with the interactive e-book approach (experimental group) and another class of students in the conventional video-based flipped learning (control group). The participants of this study included two classes of fourth-grade students. To compare the learning performances of the two groups, the students’ answers to the pre-questionnaire, pre-test, post-questionnaire and posttest were collected in a four-week flipped learning process.

In the in-class activities, the experimental group students brought their tablet computers with the annotated e-books, while the control group students brought their printed learning sheets with the notes they had taken. Both groups of students participated in the group discussion based on the same guidelines provided by the teacher. In addition, they were asked to raise problems they had encountered in the out-of-class activities. Then, the teacher would encourage other classmates to solve the problems using electronic whiteboards, as shown in Figure 6.


Figure 6. Scenario of the in-class activities

The experimental results indicated that the proposed approach not only promoted the students’ self-efficacy for learning mathematics, but also improved their learning achievement; moreover, it was found that the approach benefited the lower self-efficacy more than the higher self-efficacy students. The learning record analysis further confirmed that the lower self-efficacy students spent more time reading the e-books before and in class than the higher self-efficacy students did.

By Gwo-Jen Hwang


Gwo-Jen Hwang is currently a Chair Professor at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Information Engineering from the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan in 1991. Dr. Hwang has published more than 550 academic papers, including nearly 200 papers in SSCI/SCI journals. His research interests include mobile learning, flipped learning, and artificial intelligence in education. Owing to his reputation for academic research and innovative inventions in e-learning, he received the annual most Outstanding Researcher Award from the National Science Council of Taiwan in 2007, 2010 and 2013. Moreover, in 2016, he was announced by Times Higher Education as being the most prolific and cited researcher in the world in the field of social sciences.


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