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TEXTBook - Your personal trainer

“Why do we have to purchase this expensive textbook when there are plenty of resources on the net?” is a common question from my students and sometimes I wondered that myself while hefting the latest tomb down from a shelf to look something up. So I put on my old thinking cap and came up with a few reasons. Then I surveyed my peers to find out if they still recommended textbooks to their students and if so why. The total sum of this work is expressed in the video below.

In the video the viewer is supposedly eavesdropping on a staff meeting where a decision is being made about the use of an on-line textbook or a paper based one. Like all good scientists we start by analyzing our basic assumption about the need for a textbook. The arguments for a textbook, as opposed to a collection of web-based materials, are presented but the video finishes before the decision is made on electronic or paper-based.

The link to this video has been in my e-mail signature for a while. Once, before I could answer the usual e-mailed student question about why they need to buy a textbook, a second e-mail arrived from the student saying not to bother they had seen the video and would now be getting a textbook. Job done!

Learning & Teaching Materials

In the first week of semester we can assume students know very little about the topic we are teaching so often there is no tutorial / workshop in the first teaching week but having an introductory session in this week helps the students settle in to their studies and make some friends.  Friends are important as they can provide the resilience that helps a student get through the tough times and stay at their studies when they might otherwise leave.

  • Challenge activity

“You have been asked to design an on-line textbook. Decide what should be included in it.” The students could base their discussion around known examples of hard-copy textbooks, on-line textbooks, as well as their own learning experiences. The teacher could also bring along a supply of textbooks from different eras so students can see how the modern-day textbook has developed.

  • Video watching activity sheet
  • Focus activity  Quiz night

    Teams of students are challenged to find information in their textbooks, or by other means if they do not have one. The quiz questions are structured so that the students have to go to each part of the textbook to find the answers including appendices and indexes. This then highlights the importance of each section of the textbook for the student.

  • Quiz night answer pad

The quiz answers can be obtained by email c.creagh@murdoch.edu.au

So this “ice breaker” also helps students find their way around their textbook. You could also try and pit the Googlers against   the Textbookers and watch the different ways students go about finding information and examine the type of answers they get (precision, accuracy) and where on the net they get them from. Then you can have a conversation about the validity of reference sources and how they should reference where they get their information from.

All videos available for use under a Creative Commons Australia CC-BY-NC licence