Showing posts with label textbooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label textbooks. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Sources Comparison

I posted this yesterday on Google+ and it seems to have been well-received so I thought I'd share it again. In February of 2010 I designed a short activity for my students to compare textbooks, Wikipedia, and primary source documents on a given topic. Next week my students will be doing this activity with a slight modification to match where we are in the curriculum right now.

From February 2010.
A couple of weeks ago I sent out a Tweet that my students were working on a comparison of Wikipedia articles to articles in their textbooks. Judging by the reTweets and replies to my message, a lot of people were interested in the activity. What I left out of my Tweet was the third part of the assignment in which my students had to locate and use primary source documents to gain more insight into the various topics. You can find the outline of the assignment here.

There were two purposes to this assignment. First to dispel the myths that Wikipedia is unreliable and that textbooks are gospel truth. The second purpose was for students to see the value of primary source documents for gaining insights into historical events and or people. Both goals were met. The topics my students were investigating were the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Fort Laramie Treaties. The vast majority of my students reported that they found the textbook easier to use for finding the "main points," but that the Wikipedia articles had the same information. They also reported that the Wikipedia articles had more depth of information.

Where Wikipedia shone was in getting students started on their searches for primary source documents. As you'll see in the outline, I asked my students to use the links at the end of each Wikipedia article to further investigate each topic and locate primary source documents. What I did not include in the outline is that I also allowed students to simply search the web on their own to find primary source documents. As I expected, most of them came to the realization that a lot what they were finding through their own searches was already listed in the links at the end of the Wikipedia articles. At the end of the activity every student was able to identify and add new information to their knowledge base using the primary source documents they located.

I welcome your questions and feedback. And if you found the outline useful, by all means please feel free to reuse it in your classrooms.

And just for fun...

Monday, August 23, 2010

100+ Free Textbooks from Open Culture

One of my favorite blogs, Open Culture, has just published a collection of more than one hundred free textbooks available online. The textbook collection can be found under the "textbooks" tab at the top of the Open Culture homepage. All of the books in the collection can be viewed for free and most can be downloaded for free. The titles in the collection are appropriate for high school and undergraduate use. The collection contains more mathematics and science texts than it does texts for the humanities.

Applications for Education
If you're looking to replace the textbooks used in your classroom or you're looking for supplemental texts, the Open Culture collection of free textbooks is a great place to start your search.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Places to Find Free eBooks

Google Books Adds Shelving Options
Embedding Books Into Your Blogger Blog or Google Site

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Science Books Online

Science Books Online is a directory of free ebooks for all areas of science. The books range from small PDF pamphlets to full-length texts made available in electronic form for free. Most of the materials have to be downloaded in order to be viewed but there are some materials that you can view directly within your browser.

Applications for Education
Science Books Online and similar ebook directories can provide excellent supplemental materials for your curriculum at no cost. In some cases you may even be able to find ebooks that can replace your textbooks and save your school thousands of dollars.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flat World Knowledge Provides Free Textbooks

Flat World Knowledge has the potential to be a real money-saver for college students and possibly for high schools. Flat World Knowledge provides free textbooks created by experts in various academic fields. A quick look at the "find my class" section of Flat World Knowledge reveals that these textbooks are already being used in few dozen colleges across the United States. In all there are thirty-one books divided amongst eight library categories. More books are in development.

The video embedded below provides a good overview of Flat World Knowledge.


A related resource that may be of interest to you is:
Planet eBook

Save 20% on all books & DVDs from National Geographic!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Podcast - How Do You Spend Your Money?

In this episode I share a conversation that has been reoccurring throughout the last couple of years in my department meetings. What are we going to use our limited budget money for? Until recently, I’ve always argued for not upgrading textbooks every couple of years and instead save the money to invest in technology resources. But last week I joined a conversation on Michael Wesch’s blog that forced me to look at the arguments again.

This episode was recorded using the drop.io voicemail service. It’s an easy way to create mp3 voice recordings. After recording the message I dragged it into Garage Band to edit and add the intro and outro music.

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded below or use the player embedded in the right hand column of the blog. The player in the right hand column of the blog will also provide you with my previous podcast episodes.