Building content dexterity into your textbook

all you need is lessRecently my mentor, Paul Martinelli, was talking about creating and delivering content for various audiences and in a variety of ways. As part of his lesson, he said, “Content dexterity is key. You need to be able to speak on your subject for 3 seconds, 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days”. Having taught many 3-hour class sessions in more than 20 years of teaching experience, that time period certainly is comfortable for me, but what about the others?

As textbook authors, we often write the book around the expectation of class sessions. We envision the classroom audience, the common structure of classroom time where our book will be used, and the depth and breadth of coverage of concepts necessary to meet the curriculum standards of the course. We then have a tendency to structure chapters and units around those constraints.

But I question whether that approach is effective in our current educational environment. Below I offer some ways that you might want to consider building content dexterity into your next textbook. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 5, 2020

“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” ~Isabelle Lafleche“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” Isabelle Lafleche is credited with this quote framing our weekly collection of posts. So what is your passion? Where is your courage? And what do you need to align the two?

Perhaps some of the ideas below will help build the courage or clarify your passion, or both. We have found resources on enhancing visual thinking, organizing research notes, online learning, pursuing, planning, and progressing on a PhD, and additional writing quotes to motivate you on the journey.

We’ve also found information on current issues and events in the academic writing realm including diversity and inclusion, research impact, research career paths, copyright, and Read & Publish deals. Whatever your passion, find ways to build the courage you need to pursue it this week. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 27, 2020

“Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious.” ~Christina KatzAmidst the stress and constant concern associated with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic crisis, I had greatly hoped to present non-pandemic related content in this list of articles from around the web. Of course, I knew that would be a long-shot, but I was hopeful regardless. As textbook and academic authors, we are unfortunately not immune to the “real world” issues that span the globe and this list demonstrates some of the ways our academic community has been impacted by the novel coronavirus and how we are addressing the related effects.

Included in the collection are tips for writing while distracted, continuing research efforts and managing the risks associated with the pandemic, and completing PhD defenses virtually. There are also articles on imagining forward, the impact of COVID-19 on academic conferences, and methods for teaching online. Finally, there is an opinion article on the importance of coming together as an academic community in times of crisis.

Anxiety is inevitable at times like this. Writing, for many of us, can be an outlet for that stress and concern. To maintain a healthy writing habit during this time of crisis, it may even be helpful to follow the advice of Christina Katz who said, “Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

Busy TAA People: McKeague to speak on online education panel at Stanford

Pat McKeagueTAA Member Pat McKeague, owner of XYZ Textbooks and MathTV.com, will be participating in a panel discussion at Stanford University on the future of online education, May 14 from 8-9:30 p.m. The discussion, “Reinventing the business of education,” is part of the 16th Annual New Frontiers in Computing event. “So far, the community colleges have been left out of most of the discussions on MOOCs, so I am very happy and excited to be invited to this conference,” said McKeague.