The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: March 13, 2015

I’m excited for a few reasons this week. You fail only if you stop writing.First, spring-like temperatures have arrived and stuck around for multiple days. (Woot!) Second, this week’s most useful post is jam-packed with articles I think you’ll enjoy. Topics range from knockoff rating companies to massive open online courses (MOOCs). Third, I found this great quote by Ray Bradbury, “you fail only if you stop writing,” that I couldn’t wait to share with you all. This quote is so simple, yet so powerful.

We all define success differently but ultimately failure, that is no longer writing, is the same. If one journal or publisher rejects your writing, you don’t stop writing, you either tweak what you have, find a better fit, or start on another project. You haven’t failed until the moment you stop writing. In a bicycle race you haven’t failed unless you stop pedaling. Of course not everything we write is worthy of being called a masterpiece, but I don’t think that just because a piece of writing isn’t our best that it should be considered a failure. Isn’t it by writing and rewriting that we discover those masterpieces?

Happy writing! [Read more…]

Should you teach from your own textbook?

Should you teach from your own textbook?In a recent discussion in the Textbook Writing & Publishing Discussion Circle in TAA’s online member community regarding whether professors should teach from their own textbook, all agreed that it was perfectly acceptable, but whether or not to collect royalties on those sales was met with mixed reactions.

According to textbook author Kevin Patton, textbook royalties are no different than being paid for lecturing:

I believe that it’s perfectly ethical for authors to get royalties or other compensation for their textbooks used by their own students. Besides it being a time-honored tradition in academia, textbook writing takes a lot of time and effort outside of one’s contracted teaching duties that should rightfully be compensated. Taking a royalty check for teaching via a textbook is no different than taking a salary check for lecturing in a classroom.”
[Read more…]

Author: Classrooms incubate great textbooks

The classroom is a crucible for textbook development, said Robert Christophersongeography author Robert Christopherson, and that’s why publishers are looking for people who love to teach to write textbooks. The development of the sequences of topics and the text outline is done through experimentation, Christopherson said, which is best done in the classroom using the author’s own students. Christopherson said student questions in the classroom, for example, may be an indication of where a figure label is needed in the textbook.

Christopher said another plus for authors in teaching from their own own text is that it creates an ice-breaker. “Drawing students into who wrote the book defuses classroom tension,” he said. He does this by: [Read more…]

Do’s and don’ts for teaching from your own textbook

Q: “I’m interested in some do’s and don’ts related to teaching a college course using one’s own textbook. I’m used to expanding on material and offer things “left out” of others’ texts. Using my own, I find myself ‘teaching from the text’ more than I’d like (or more than what is interesting to the students). Any advice from those of you who have dealt with this?”

 A: Rebecca Plante, PhD, Assistant Professor & Chair, Personnel Committee, Sociology Department, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY:

“I teach with two of my texts – I have to, as long as they’re in print, or it would look really bad (‘You don’t use your own books!!?’). My editor would have a hard time working with me if I refused to assign the text I wrote on sex…in my sexualities class. If I don’t believe in the text enough to adopt it, why would anyone else? [Read more…]