Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tools for Educators to Collect Their Own Resources

blog.empowerlms.com
Textbooks are resources that have been collected by publishers to fulfill curricular needs. Printed textbooks are provided in a "one size fits all" format. The two largest states, California and Texas, usually identify what they want in their textbooks and then the rest of the country uses these texts. Some of the publishers are providing the opportunity of states, school districts and educators to customize their textbooks. Publishers provide a collection of information and then the educational organizations create their texts from the material offered. The problem is that they are still printed texts and they are stuck with them until they print the next edition.

Readings, Watchings, Listenings and Doings
As a professor of at the University of Northern Iowa, I don't use textbooks. I have a great deal of resources that my students must master, but they are collected in a textbook. I make my resources available through the Web. Millennials or Generation Y students are not readers of books. They read a great deal but it is from screens for the most part. This group of learners (ages 11 - 28) work best with multimedia. This means that they want to read, but they also want to learn information and build knowledge through video, audio and activity. They want to learn through interactive learning opportunities even as they encounter new information.  

Readings: This is where we refer the students to online articles and readings in books (printed and digital). Just because we don't use textbooks, it doesn't mean that we don't use books. There is a plethora of information contained in the tombs of knowledge.
Watchings: Our students are visual learners. Pew Internet estimates that Millennials spend as much as 8 hours on the screen per day (watching TV, viewing YouTube, interacting with Facebook, etc.) This is the medium that is best for their learning. I find many videos on YouTube, Edutopia, and other subject-specific sites. Sometimes I create my own videos to address specific needs.
Listenings: Our students are multi-taskers. Many of them are audio learners. I have found a wealth of resources in podcasts. The beauty of using podcasts is that they can listen to them on their iPods/phones while they are walking or working out. Learning while jogging may seem blasphemous, but we are learning all the time. Why not include coursework in the informal learning that we do.
Doings: Learning by doing is the key to meaningful learning. This is where you ask your students to complete surveys, research information, collaborate in problem solving, or ????  Your actual assignments will probably be described on a different online page, but these are usually the activities that lead to the final assignments.

Here are some examples of my RWLDs:
iBook Author
While using a blog is a simple way to organize resources for class, Apple has released the iBooks Author.  This is a much more sophisticated but simple way to create your multimedia RWLDs or Digital textbook.  The best thing is that as we create these books for our courses we can share them with other educators.

Apple has not only created a tool that enables us to create our own digital textbooks, they have also developed/uncovered a market in digital books. They are using their iTunes store to distribute their interactive books for $15 each.

How does this fit our quest into using digital books in your class?  What do you see as how you can make your resources more interactive and instructional for your students?
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