Why textbook authors should be using critical instruction pedagogy

puzzle piecesYou are seated at a table covered with a thousand scrambled puzzle pieces. Your task is to assemble the pieces. But there is a catch. You are not shown a picture of the assembled puzzle. You are not given any instructions that might help you to assemble the pieces into a critically understandable coherent whole. How would you proceed? [Read more…]

4 Questions authors are asking about open textbooks

Whether you are a veteran textbook author or new to the industry, you’ve likely heard of open educational resources (OER) and open textbooks by now. As with anything new, the open textbook model is faced with scrutiny and questions from those familiar with the traditional publishing process. It’s also laden with opportunities, such as the current $5M open textbook pilot program.

To better understand the open textbook model, specifically what is the same and what is different from traditional publishing options, we asked some questions of several leaders in the open textbook movement. Here’s what we learned. [Read more…]

Re-engineering the modern textbook: A conceptual shift from content delivery to learning design

ebook from a print bookTextbooks have historically provided the core content from which teachers develop and deliver learning experiences to their students – a static, paper manuscript delivering conceptual knowledge and exercises to reinforce the material. As mobile technology has provided alternative ways to access and read content in electronic form, most textbooks have been distributed in an e-book format (commonly ePub or PDF) as well, but is this “new” format providing any benefit to student learners?

Arguably the costs of this paperless format are less; search features can improve the speed at which content can be located; and assistive technology, such as screen readers and magnification tools, can improve the accessibility of the information over the print alternative. But, does the technology improve learning? [Read more…]

Pedagogy of the book and chapter questions

teachDoes the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? I considered this question in relation to chapter organization in a previous post. In this post I will explore another part of the typical textbook chapter: questions.

Flip to the end of a textbook chapter, and you will usually find a list of questions, exercises, or other suggested assignments. Sometimes you will find additional learning activity ideas and resources on the companion website. Do they serve a purpose, or do readers flip past to get to the next assigned reading? [Read more…]

How to incorporate accessibility throughout the publishing process

Digital AccessibilityIn his recent webinar, “Making Textbooks Accessible to Students With Disabilities”, Robert Martinengo, Publisher Outreach Specialist for the CAMI project at AMAC Accessibility, said that the issue of accessibility is even more important when it comes to digital products.

“The ability to navigate through a digital textbook is a critical component of accessibility,” he said. “Navigation is enabled by consistent and rational use of tags throughout the text.”

In addition to effective navigation, accessible manuscripts should also include these four elements, said Martinengo: [Read more…]

2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsRecently we reached out to winners of the 2017 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. The first installment in this four-part series focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. The third installment focused on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book.

This fourth, and final, installment in the four-part series focuses on what they wish they had known before they started, and advice for other authors. [Read more…]

Paper or digital? How to decide the format for your monograph or book

Paper or e-book?A question continues in some stores, “Paper or plastic?” While recyclable bags may make this a thing of the past, other questions continue. Authors continue to ponder whether their book should be a paper copy or an eBook. While this is an important discussion, it should not cause deep thinking.

The obvious answer is both. If a publisher is wise, it will offer a book or monograph in both formats. This is a smart consumer-centric option. Let the buyer decide which they prefer. Let’s discuss, though, each format to see where the market is and the virtues of each one. [Read more…]

2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. The first installment of this four-part series focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.

This third installment in the four-part series focuses on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read more…]

2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about how they made the decision to write their textbook, how they interested a publisher, what they do to boost their writing confidence, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This first installment of the four-part series focuses on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got the interest of a publisher. [Read more…]

Student review of textbook provides valuable feedback

Understanding RhetoricWhen was the last time you received honest feedback about your textbook from students? For many authors, feedback is provided during production from a team of editors. For a luckier few, instructor and student review may be part of the production process, especially for first editions. But rarely do authors have direct feedback from the students their book is intended to serve post-adoption.

Dr. Elizabeth Losh, associate professor of English and American Studies at William & Mary University, and author of Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, has made student feedback a key component of her writing process. [Read more…]