An Even Twistier Path – Replacing the Text

Originally posted 7/25/2014
Weekly Writing for Online Pedagogy

I’m stealing the fifth article review to go over an Open Source text resource: Flatworld. I have a new instructor who is not tied to the existing syllabus or old, very expensive, textbook that has been in use for this course. We’ve looked at a variety of resources to replace the text.

I came across the following in the second chapter of an online text, Exploring Business, the BA 151 instructor will use for fall 2014:

Exploring Business chapter 2 on ethics
Exploring Business chapter 2 on ethics

I’ve encouraged faculty to reduce the price of texts they use, or to use materials that are freely available. In helping this instructor work up materials for his class, I indicated I would read chapter two and then we could discuss likely activities, assignments, assessments. I did not realize that I’d enjoy the process. Nor did I realize that I’d feel a section of the text worthy for an article review. But it is.

The graphic above just happens to correlate with thoughts I’ve had about the rising cost of texts. I would be embarrassed if my local newspaper wrote up the cost of some of the texts I used before I realized it was not that hard to replace them.

How do you review an online text for a course? The same way you review any article. What parts are good? What parts are bad? Did the author or authors utilize enough resources to provide a well-rounded view of the topic at hand? What’s the layout look like? Is there supporting data? Can I learn more?

Good
The navigation is incredibly clear. Not only that, but this online text takes advantage of a few great html tags (like acronym) to make learning just a wee bit more accessible. I easily read through the first half of the chapter. It was engaging and well written.

The cost is incredible starting at just $24.00. That’s a huge savings off of the traditional one hundred level business book that most students won’t read and won’t use again. Of course there are other, more expensive, options.

All seven sections of chapter two had great articles in the reference section that are easy to follow to read the source materials and find more on topics of interest. Here are just a few:

Bad
Well, as much as I enjoyed reading the materials in chapter two, I still lean toward truly free resources versus those what only allow us to see the first few chapters for free.

I’m going to have to put the fact that the test bank is set up to easily integrate into Blackboard as a score against it. Sadly, that’s me expressing a bias. Flatworld knowledge website has a drop down for more resources that includes the following language: “We have taken our test item file and created files to import into the following Learning Management Systems*: Blackboard, Angel, Moodle, WebCT.” They also support Respondus Neutral.

Author’s Note: One of the most positive things about this site is the additional support provided for both students and faculty in the form of flashcards, key take-aways, and terms for students and slides, video and easy to read AND USE cases for faculty.

References
http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/5227?e=collins-ch02#collins-ch02_s02