Beyond Textbooks: Sources of Good Virtual Training

Beyond Textbooks: Sources of Good Virtual Training

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University – Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6322-8.ch009

Abstract

Textbooks can serve as a good starting point for learning concepts or serve as a reinforcing reference tool for students. However, to address the various academic needs of students, as well as to affirm the richness and depth of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions in online courses, online instructors should complement and supplement textbooks with other resources in various formats. Education has a growing need for digital resources, starting with digital textbooks, and expanding to other kinds of educational resources. Open educational resources, in particular, provide cost-effective and flexible tools for teaching and learning.
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Textbooks

Textbooks are a mainstay in higher education. Even in 21st century teaching, most syllabi list at least one textbook that serves as a central, foundational content reference source to ensure that all students gain the same knowledge base. Most textbooks have a unified style and single or collaborative authorship. Faculty members typically examine several potential textbooks to ultimately select one that best aligns with the course learning objectives. These textbooks might be used throughout the course, or just for specific units. Some textbooks include questions for discussion or synthesis, and others may include case studies or other problems to analyze. Some instructors choose an encyclopedic textbook or technical manual that can be used for reference in practice. Depending on the subject matter (e.g., basic accounting versus data information systems) and the publisher, textbooks may be updated regularly to keep current. However, in today’s changing information society, some textbooks can be outdated by the time they are published in print.

Nevertheless, textbooks have several disadvantages. They can be costly for students; especially in an online course, instructors are unlikely to know if a student has access to a textbook or not, which can impact learning. While it is the students’ responsibility to obtain their textbooks, textbooks might not fit into a tight budget, and if the textbook isn’t key for learning then students might not take the textbook seriously.

Furthermore, no textbook is perfect, and if it is the only reading material for learners, then they are disadvantaged. Having a single source of information limits students’ access to different points of view, deeper material, and scaffolds to aid comprehension. Especially in online courses, in which an instructor has fewer sensory cues about student learning, providing a choice of complementary and supplementary materials is key.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy: The ability to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, communicate information purposefully, knowledgeably, technically, and ethically.

Assessment: Evaluation of a behavior at one specific time under one specific condition.

Open Educational Resources (OER): Free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.

Instructional Design: A systematic analysis of training needs and the development of aligned instruction.

Digital Literacy: The ability to assess, use, manage, share, and generate information effectively and purposefully using digital technology.

Courseware: Digital education materials designed to support instruction; courseware is often packaged to accompany a textbook or used as program instruction.

Information Literacy: The ability to access, evaluate, use, manage, communicate, and generate information.

Infrastructure: The technological system to support telecommunications (e.g., facilities, cables, equipment, services, etc.).

Digital Resource: Usually an electronic document.

Repository: A central location in which resources are stored and managed; a database collection.

Open Access Textbook: A textbook that can be used freely; it is usually no- or low-cost.

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