N. Scerbakov1, F. Kappe1, V. Pak2

1Graz University of Technology (AUSTRIA)
2Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software systems that implementing different e-learning scenarios in practice. In the simplest case, Learning Management System can be seen as a structured repository of courseware materials provided with additional communication facilities such as discussion forum, annotations, chats, etc. Courseware is structured as so-called e-learning courses - repositories that serve one particular training course. A significant part of courseware materials available from such e-learning course is so-called e-Books. e-Book is a structured collection of plain HTML documents and self-assessment questions. Normally, e-Books are authored by means of so-called free-hand authoring - documents are encoded in a form of Hypertext Mark-Up Language (HTML) files; an overall e-Book structure is defined as a collection of hyperlinks - references to other the documents. Such "spaghetti" link structure has a number of disadvantages from the perspective of collaborative authoring, browsing and reuse of the courseware.

This paper proposes a novel method of structuring e-Books suitable for evolutionary, collaborative development of courseware. The method is based on the concept of so-called structured collection (S-Collections). An S-Collection is an opaque container that encapsulates a set of HTML documents and a particular navigable structure. S-Collections are main building blocks of an e-Book. S-Collections may encapsulate other S-Collections as members. Developing of an e-Book can be seen as authoring HTML documents, combining the documents into S-Collections and memberwise inclusion of S-Collections into other S-Collections as opposed to spaghetti linking of nodes in other models.

Editing operations are addressed to a particular data object (S-collection) and do not affect the link structure of other objects. This object-oriented character of the model presents new ways of supporting the logical integrity of complex e-Books.