Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 11, 2021

What is this business we’re in – the business of education? John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” For textbook and academic authors, I think we’d certainly agree. We live both to educate others and to continue our own education in our discipline. But how do we make education more than a tool or career and rather a lifestyle?

Using your textbook as the foundation for an online course

In 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”.

Building content dexterity into your textbook

Recently 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.

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

“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!

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

Amidst 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!

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

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