EDET 793 • Spring 2012 • Jeff Francis
Multi-Touch Textbook: The DeciBel and Basic Audio Electronics

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Multi-Touch Textbook: The DeciBel and Basic Audio Electronics Project


The EDET 793 Instructional Multimedia Project will take the form of a Multi-touch Textbook. Multi-touch Textbook is a new format, released by Apple Computer, Inc. on January 19th, 2012. It is a variant of the ePub electronic book format, created by the free software iBooks Author. iBooks Textbooks are only currently viewable on the Apple iPad and iPad2. The Multi-touch Textbook allows for various forms of media and interactivity. Media includes text, images, videos, presentations, and HTML code. Additional benefits include quizzes, note-taking, glossaries and study cards. The interactive textbook will focus on basic electronics as it relates to audio engineering and the decibel, which are two of the most commonly confused elements of MUSC 365: Introduction to Audio Recording.


The primary audience for this multi-touch textbook is students in MUSC 365 Introduction to Audio Recording. As seen in the learner analysis, these students have little to no formal audio education and underdeveloped skills in mathematics. Secondarily, the textbook will be a long-term resource for these students to review the concepts contained within. In addition, all audio engineers, no matter what their skill level or experience, can benefit from a greater understanding of basic audio electronics and the proper usage of the deciBel.

Learner Analysis

I have taught MUSC 365: Introduction to Audio Recording for several years, and have surveyed the incoming leaners’ previous audio experience and coursework. Through these prior semesters, I have developed a profile of a typical student. Many students take MUSC 365 as an elective, hence they are motivated and interested. However, their mathematics ability and comfort level varies. Not all have had trigonometry and most are intimidated by it. As the students progress on to higher level courses, the gaps in their understanding become clear. One of the common stumbling blocks is basic audio electronics and the use of the decibel.


The goal for this module is a subset of the one of the learning outcomes of MUSC 365 Introduction to Audio Recording: By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate understanding of basic acoustics and psychoacoustics. Decibels and basic audio electronics are a part of basic acoustic principles.

At the end of this instructional module, the learner will:
  • explain the decibel and its use
  • determine and utilize proper decibel equations
  • apply basic electronic principles and equations


  • Basic Electronics
    • Current
    • Voltage
    • Resistance & impedance
    • Ohm’s law
    • Watt’s Law
  • DeciBel
    • what is it and why is it used?
    • DeciBel equation
    • DeciBel forms
  • Appendix: Mathematics Review
    • Trigonometric functions
    • Exponents & logarithms
  • Glossary of terms


Delivery will be in the form of a Multi-Touch interactive Textbook in the iBooks Textbook format. Media that can be incorporated includes: text, images, image slideshows,and interactive images which allow the learner to zoom into detailed views with more extensive callouts. Other possible media are videos and screencasts, audio, and keynote presentations. Two types of media that I don't know how to create (yet) are 3D images and HTML widgets, though these have great potential. The iBooks Textbook format also allows review quizzes, note taking, and a glossary within the textbook. The glossary and any users notes can be used to create flash cards, which can be studied from with the textbook or exported.

In addition to the Textbook, a PDF version will be made available for download, with links to media that cannot be supported in a PDF version of the Textbook.


Review quizzes will be provided in the textbook as formative assessments for the learners. An online exam to determine the transfer of instruction and a survey of learner to examine preferences will also be provided. At several points throughout the design and development stages of the project I will create draft versions of the textbook. These drafts will be reviewed by a few current MUSC 365 students (who own iPads) for their feedback.

Relevant Research

The iBooks Textbook format was announced less than a week ago, so there has not been time for any serious research on its use and effectiveness. However, there have been several studies on the use of the iPad as a teaching tool, including an app that replaced a textbook, much like the new format can. In this study (HMH Fuse Algebra 1: Results of a yearlong Algebra pilot in Riverside, CA) the FUSE iPad app was substituted for the traditional algebra textbook in two classes. The same teachers taught classes with both tradition and iPad textbooks. Student who used the iPad textbook app score nearly 20% better on standardized tests and were more motivated.

Since the iBooks Textbook combines many forms of media and interactivity, good design practices based on Cognitive Load Theory and the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer) will need to be followed. In addition, review quizzes in the textbook will need to be carefully developed to ensure they test higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. (Green & Johnson)

A few types of media that can be incorporated into the iBooks Textbook will require additional research if I decide to utilize them. 3-D images, which the learner can rotate and examine, need to be in the Collada (.cae) format. HTML widgets (.wdgt) must be created with DashCode, part of Apple’s Xcode developer software.

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