It’s time to dump the set text

The days of picking a textbook, downloading the publisher’s resources and setting end of chapter exercises for practise are long gone – and good riddance.

Man lying asleep on opened textbook and homework papers
Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Matt Miller has been calling for educators to Ditch That Textbook for almost 10 years, but most of the academics I speak with tell me that they still use one. I always ask what it is, and in UK institutions, it’s invariably one of about six titles, all similarly structured.

Unprompted, many will go on to say that they or their students don’t particularly like it, and more commonly, that their students don’t read it.

It may not be true of your students, but in my experience, you can’t even give textbooks away. My institution provides students with a set text for each module free of charge using a digital platform. This provides data indicating that some don’t read at all, and very few read a lot.

I can’t say that I blame them entirely. Although I really like my book, I don’t think many of my students would describe it as a good read, or something that they will treasure for years to come.

For teachers, textbooks provide a spine and structure to our courses, and also resources (of variable and questionable quality). They are also, however, a crutch for our teaching and I’ve heard some academics admit that they provide academic respectability. Are these good enough reasons to hang onto them?

The seemingly ever-increasing pressure to provide more accessible, atttractive/interactive and challenging learning materials can feel overwhelming, but I believe it also presents an opportunity.

I am planning a modest start to a project that will create a library of “learning bricks” that can be used to build accounting courses for schools, colleges, universities and perhaps even wider.

The tool I’m playing with is H5P which is a free and open source HTML5 coding platform. This sounds fancy and complicated but it’s actually really easy to use, create, share and reuse content. It can be embedded within most websites and learning management systems, including Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas and Brightspace. In fact, any LMS that uses Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards.

Here are a couple of examples

If you would like to join in with the “Learning Bricks” project or find out more please let me know. Or come to the next Accounting Cafe webinar: 18 March 2021 at 3pm GMT. Sign up on LinkedIn.

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