Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: December 13, 2019

T.S. Eliot once said, “Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers.” The key to success, however, is to fail forward. This week’s collection of articles from around the web fittingly explores some of the ways academic authors can do just that.

We begin with an exploration of the “gap” between management scholarship and practice and the number of academic hours worked. We then consider ways to keep up with the literatures and simplify indexing and data sharing. Next, we explore ways to deal with failure and to apply the lessons learned along the way. Finally, we examine ways to make money from writing books and reasons why librarians are concerned about GetFTR.

As you close out your academic semester and near the end of 2019, reflect on the successes and failures of the term and year past, but focus on failing forward into the year ahead. Happy writing!

Writing for readers

I am in that singular stage of insanity called finishing a book. My mind is full of details and questions such as, “did I already cover this in Chapter 1” or “do I have too many diagrams in this chapter”? At the same time, I can’t help but think about my reader.

I hope that my reader will hungrily devour the book from start to finish, stopping only to make notes about how she will put my ideas to use. I hope it will be dogeared, full of notes and highlights my reader will return to time and again. But seriously, how can we plan for the realities that will occur when masterpiece is in someone else’s hands? Here are some of my apprehensions, and the strategies I’m using to address them.

How to explain complex ideas in a simple way

As teachers and authors, we are often faced with the challenging task of conveying information that, although second nature to us, is completely foreign to the students learning the material. Several experienced textbook authors share their best practices for explaining complex ideas in a simple way, including the use of metaphors, visuals, procedures/processes, and hands-on multisensory activities to improve learning success.

How to successfully incorporate text, pictures and audio into your learning materials

Incorporating multimedia resources into learning materials is now standard practice, but according to Laura Frost, Director of the Whitaker Center for STEM Education and chemistry professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, it is important that educators incorporate text, pictures, and audio in ways that will be most useful for learners. Frost is also author of the textbook General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry 2e (Pearson).

How to apply the theory of experiential learning to textbook writing

Experiential learning, a four-stage cycle that accommodates four distinct types of learners, is the ideal way for people to learn. While each person will prefer one part of the cycle over others, it is important for educators to guide their students through each stage in order to achieve the best possible learning experience.

According to Dr. Alice Kolb, president of Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc., textbook authors can use the following ideas to incorporate all four stages of the experiential learning cycle and maximize the educational potential of their books:

First Stage: Concrete Experience. Vignettes or quotes can help students identify with the content of a chapter, or you can provide introductory exercises to give students an initial experience with your topic.