Ditching Textbooks for Higher Ed

A lot has been said about ditching K-12 textbooks in favor of 3-act tasks, innovative websites, and digital learning platforms.  But this blog post isn’t so much about that as it is how I’ve managed to evade using an expensive textbook in my higher education classes that I teach.

The great thing about a textbook is that they’re consistent. They’re the same from one year to the next, and a course can be planned around that consistency. For the past 3 years, I’ve planned my higher education courses around a few different PDF’s instead. They’re not the same each year, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Currently my class (technology for student teachers) is planned around PDF’s from the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. Specifically, the 4C’s – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. I have my students read each PDF and write/turn in Notes using a program called Mendeley, which was a life-saver when I was writing my own masters thesis in 2013. Exporting notes is a great option to capture student thinking… and make sure they read and reflect on the entire article.Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 9.16.26 AM

The hard part about relying on PDF’s (the current set of readings was only published in October 2015!) is that I need to constantly update the class, but I feel especially for higher education, it’s necessary and makes for a better experience for students!

With tools like Mendeley, the extension Kami and other real-time collaboration tools, anything more than six months old doesn’t need to be used in a higher education class when we’re trying to educate tomorrow’s leaders!

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