The process for selecting resources for your course can take a lot of time and effort. Often as I've worked with faculty on a course blueprint (planning stage), the holdup comes when we are looking for resources that address the unit learning outcomes. The textbook doesn't always explain each course topic, so the search for supplemental resources is crucial. Below I've listed some tips for choosing a textbook, selecting an Open Resource (OER), and finding supplemental resources (videos, podcasts, images, etc.)
Choosing a Textbook
If you've chosen to use a textbook for your course, where do you start? Hopefully there is a great selection that matches the course topics, but there are several other factors to consider:
- Do the topics address the learning outcomes of your course, and course units?
- Is the textbook written at an appropriate level?
- Does it explain concepts clearly? (Make sure you read key sections yourself)
- Is it current, or will you need to supplement extensively with up-to-date materials?
- Does the text fit with the student workload? Is there too much to read, or too little? Consider making some sections optional reading.
- Is the textbook visually appealing? This may not be high on the priority list, but images, graphic organizers, and the way the chapters are structured are key features to help students learn.
- What features does the text have to guide students in their learning? (e.g. chapter questions, summary, glossary, case studies, diagrams, etc.). Are there any online features to help students? (e.g. weblinks, flashcards, study notes, online quizzes, etc.)
- Are there additional resources to support the instructor? (e.g. Instructor's handbook, PowerPoint templates, test banks, chapter notes, etc.)
- How expensive is it? This may seem like a minor point, but many students choose not buy their course texts because they are too pricey.
- And finally, what do others think of this textbook? You may want to read reviews or ask your colleagues who have use it previously.
Here are a couple of resources that may be helpful:
- Selecting a Text for your Course
- Textbook Evaluation Form: A great form to help you choose a text.
- 10 Ways to Reduce Textbook Costs for Your Students
Open Resources (OERs)
Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes.
- OERu Wiki: Describes what the OERu is and provides great resources.
- The Public Domain Review: Contains many images, books, films, audio that are open
- Creative Commons: search for free resources
- About Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/videos/a-shared-culture
Search for full courses, lessons, activities, assessments, resources...and reuse with the creative commons license!