Using your textbook as the foundation for an online course

How to Use Any Textbook as the Foundation for an Online CourseIn a recent TAA webinar titled, “How to Use Any Textbook as the Foundation for an Online Course“, mathematics textbook author Pat McKeague shared a process for building an online course from textbook content and associated ancillaries.

As many instructors found themselves forced into online learning environments as a result of the pandemic in 2020, quick, but effective, transition of teaching methods through online courses became an essential skill. Using examples from his own publishing company, XYZ Textbooks, McKeague demonstrated the benefits of using LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) to integrate an electronic textbook into an LMS (Learning Management System) to develop a foundation course and then expand upon that foundation by having instructors “put yourself in it”.

It is important to remain cognizant of copyright law when incorporating textbook content and materials into an online course, so using an authorized LTI feature from the publisher is an effective way to start building your engaging online course. Through LTI, chapter content via e-book, publisher-provided ancillaries, and more can be quickly added as course modules to your LMS-based course structure. A license to access this content is then either purchased by the student or institution and those registered users are provided secure, seamless access as necessary.

Once the foundation of the course is developed, instructors can make the enhancement of course delivery methods both quick and efficient through integration of videos and other content available through the publisher’s LTI connection to the course.

For those new to teaching online, these simple integrations and implementations of pre-packaged content resources can move both students and instructors from a feeling of overwhelm and isolation into an online environment where the assigned textbook remains a central guide for curriculum and instruction.

With this foundation in place, and as instructors feel more comfortable in their LMS and interacting online, it is important that they move forward in the course development process by putting themselves into the course. This could be as simple as adding discussion forums centered on specific topic areas or as a general Q&A for students to interactive live meetings via Zoom. To replicate the instructor voice delivered in the physical classroom, video lectures are a common “in-between” component that further enhances the ancillary materials provided by the publisher.

Whether by way of strategy or unexpected necessity, transforming your textbook content into a quality online course is not only possible, but perhaps not as daunting a task as it may seem.

For more specific strategies, the entire presentation is available in TAA’s library of Presentations on Demand.


Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.

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