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IT’S OPEN! IT’S FREE! IT’S ONLINE! IT’S READY!
For the last two weeks I have been frantically re-editing my online open textbook, ‘Teaching in a Digital Age.’ I am relieved and pleased to announce that the book is now finished – or at least as finished as an open online textbook will be, as it’s possible, indeed essential, to continue to add or remove materials to keep it up to date.
So if you get the chance, log in to the book, have a look at it, and, if you can find the time, send me your comments.
The target group
The audience I am reaching out for are primarily:
- college and university instructors anxious to improve their teaching or facing major challenges in the classroom,
- school teachers, particularly in secondary or high schools anxious to ensure their students are ready for either post-secondary education or a rapidly changing and highly uncertain job market.
Different ways to use the book
The book will download in epub, pdf, and mobi versions, so it can be printed out or the whole book can be downloaded, for straightforward reading.
It can also be downloaded in xHTML, Pressbooks XML, or WordPress XML from the home page, so it can be edited or adapted for secondary use.
The book is written on the assumption that most reading will be done in chunks of one hour or less, so each section of a chapter can be completed in one hour at the maximum (some sections will be much shorter).
There are many different ways this book could be used. Here are some suggestions:
- straight read through (over several days) for personal use by individual teachers and instructors: this is probably the least likely use, but there is a logical sequence and a continuous, coherent argument that builds up through the book;
- specific chapters or sections that are useful or timely can be read by individual faculty or teachers, more as a reference or for a specific purpose, and other sections or chapters can then be read as needed;
- teachers or instructors can do the activities that follow most sections, mainly for personal reflection, but also to compare their responses to either mine or other readers;
- the book can be used, whole or in parts, as the core reading for an online course (or part of a course) on how to teach in a digital age. The activities I have suggested can be included, or, if you use one of the editing formats (XHTML, Pressbooks XML or WordPress XML), you can replace the activities with your own;
- use the book, in parts or as a whole, as preparation for faculty development or pro-d workshops
- take sections or parts of the book, and combine them with your own materials, for either an online course or for faculty development/pro-d.
See About the book – and how to use it, for more details
I will be doing 13 separate posts summarising each chapter, but in the meantime:
Chapter 1 Fundamental change in Education
This sets the stage for the rest of the book. Chapter 1 looks at the key changes that are forcing teachers and instructors to reconsider their goals and methods of teaching, In particular it identifies the key knowledge and skills that students need in a digital age, and how technology is changing everything, including the context in which we teach.
Chapters 2-5: Epistemology and teaching methods
These chapters address the more theoretical and methodological aspects of teaching and learning in a digital age. Chapter 2 covers different views on the nature of knowledge and how these understandings of knowledge influence theories of learning and methods of teaching. Chapters 3 and 4 analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of teaching ranging from solely campus-based through blended to fully online. Chapter 5 looks at the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs. These chapters form a theoretical foundation for what follows.
Chapters 6-8: Media and technology
The focus in these three chapters is on how to choose and use different media and technologies in teaching, with a particular focus on the unique pedagogical characteristics of different media. Chapter 8 ends with a set of criteria and a model for making decisions about different media and technologies for teaching.
Chapters 9-10: Modes of delivery and open education
Chapter 9 addresses the question of how to determine what mode of delivery should be used: campus-based; blended or fully online. Chapter 10 examines the potentially disruptive implications of recent developments in open content, open publishing, open data and open research. This chapter above all is a messenger of the radical changes to come to education.
Chapter 11 and Appendix 1: Ensuring quality in teaching in a digital age
These take two different but complementary approaches to the issue of ensuring high quality teaching in a digital age. Chapter 11 suggests nine pragmatic steps for designing and delivering quality teaching in a highly digital teaching context. Appendix 1 looks at all the necessary components of a high quality learning environment.
Chapter 12: Institutional support
This chapter very briefly examines the policy and operational support needed from schools, colleges and universities to ensure relevant and high quality teaching in a digital age.
There are ten ‘what if’ scenarios scattered throughout the book. These are semi-fictional, semi-, because in almost every case, the scenario is based on an actual example. However, I have sometimes combined one or more cases, or extended or broadened the original case. The purpose of the scenarios is to stimulate imagination and thinking about both our current ‘blocks’ or barriers to change, and the real and exciting possibilities of teaching in the future.
Each chapter ends with a set of key ‘takeaways’ from the chapter, and a complete set of references. There is also a comprehensive bibliography that collects together all the references from the chapters. Most chapter sections end with an activity.
There are also several appendices providing more detailed information to support each chapter, and some sample answers to the questions posed in the activities.
Over to you
As I said, an online, open textbook is dynamic, not static. Changes are possible at any time. Your feedback then will be of immense value, not just to me, but also to future readers.
What have I missed? Is the structure clear? Is it appropriate for the target audience? Is it useful to you, and if so, in what ways?
Above all, can you help me to reach beyond instructional designers, and enthusiasts for online learning, into the main body of instructors and teachers? Can you pass the word on? What would you recommend I do to get to the target audience?
As always, your help will be so much appreciated. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading the book.