How to create textbook supplements

Karen Timberlake

Karen Timberlake

Chemistry author Karen Timberlake created a website for the seventh edition of her textbook, Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry (now in its 10th edition) several years ago, before publishers entered the Internet and began adding online materials such as website supplements to textbook packages.

At Timberlake’s website, students can access learning and teaching activities that complement both her chemistry classes for allied health and her Chemistry textbook, including:

CheModules: PowerPoint Tutorials (PPTS) use mini-lectures and short learning checks to actively engage students in learning.

ChemLinks: Web sources related to each of the topics may enhance a student’s study and learning.

LecturePLUS: Chemodules using (PPTS) develop important chemistry concepts for many topics in the allied health and preparatory chemistry courses.

Books: These give more information on the textbook and supplements.

Quizzes: Self-graded quizzes give practice and immediate feedback on topics covered in chemistry for allied health.

When her publisher, Pearson Education, began developing websites for textbooks, they created their own website for the book and took over management of it. “Now, when my textbooks are used in a class, students use the Internet website linked to the textbook by Pearson,” Timberlake said. However, she has left her original website up, she said, because it’s still looked at and linked to by instructors who use the text.

Additional features on Pearson’s Chemistry website include chapter quizzes, flashcards, real-world case studies, tutorials and careers in health.

Timberlake has two other textbooks that also have Pearson produced websites, Basic Chemistry, second edition, and General, Organic and Biological Chemistry: Structures of Life, third edition, with coauthor William Timberlake.

The three websites each have different features, as well as different PPT packages. Photos and tables from the current textbooks are incorporated as well. These are managed by Jessica Neumann, assistant editor at Pearson. All three are password-protected and available only to students and instructors.

Timberlake continues to rewrite the PowerPoint Tutorials for every new edition to keep up with changes in content. Also at the textbook-linked websites is a system called Mastering Chemistry, that includes self-study activities with feedback, tutorials, career resources, glossary, interactive periodic table, chapter quizzes, review questions, flashcards, PowerPoint slides with learning checks for each chapter and case studies.

Instructors resources include a solutions manual to the laboratory manual, test banks, PowerPoint slides for presentation systems, a course management system with a blackboard and WebCT and WebAssign.

“The websites have helped to increase the visibility of Karen’s textbooks, because they offer a variety of study aids that help students build a foundation for understanding the chemical concepts in the texts and give practice in problem solving and test taking,” Neumann said.

Neumann said her work on the websites includes collaboration with the publishing company and the textbook authors, who provide valuable feedback.

“I work with the publishing company to determine what we would like on the website, based on what we have learned that works and what does not work,” Neumann said. “Once we have collected our information, I will then go to the authors and solicit their feedback. The point of view that they offer, either working in the field or teaching, is one of great importance. The opinions of both the authors and publishers are taken into account when deciding what to include on the revision of any particular site.”

At times, additional information from the textbook authors is requested by the publishers, said Neumann: “Some of the information that we request may include additional essays on some of the text topics, quiz or review questions and activities to help the students better understand the concepts. The material available on Karen Timberlake’s site is a perfect example of this.”

Publishers, authors and students benefit from the collaboration of creating a website that enhances the textbook material.

“By creating the supplemental website, we are delving deeper into the materials, providing extra information to the student,” Neumann said. “This may range from a visual presentation of the text materials, quizzes or further information, giving the student a wide view of the topic. By providing this information, we are making sure the students are given all the components they need to excel. The benefit for the publisher is that through this new delivery system, we are now able to provide a wide variety of resources to students. We also can deliver the most current information.”

Timberlake said she’s pleased with the PowerPoint Tutorials (PPT) that accompany her textbooks. There are 2,500 to 3,000 individual PowerPoint Slides in the PowerPoint Tutorial Package on the textbook websites. When she originally wrote these, it took her more than three years to finish the project.

“When requested, I would share my PPT slides with other instructors who could add, change or delete slides to fit their courses,” Timberlake said. “Now, this can be done with the websites connected to the current textbooks as well.”

Setting up an original textbook website does take time, but some programs such as Frontpage, can make this process easier, she said. There are also programs available for writing quizzes with feedback that can be added to your website.

Timberlake retired as a professor of chemistry from Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen, California after 36 years in 2000.

Kim Seidel is a freelance writer based in Onalaska, Wis.

What textbook supplements do you have? How do they help enhance learning for students?