It’s quite simply a phenomenal idea; utilising a powerful toolkit of online collaborative applications to deliver a 5-week course on how to develop an eTextbook.
‘Crafting the ePerfect Textbook‘ is a course powered by the creative hyperdrive of Shelly Terrell, a prolific blogger and globe-trotting teacher trainer. The course’s mission statement, according to the community’s syllabus document, is to give teachers the tools and expertise to create their own textbook materials that meet the needs of their learners. The shared opinion is that published textbooks more often that not require supplementing or enriching with a teacher’s own material and that, with these skills, a teacher can produce an effective (and attractive) component that best suits their needs and the needs of their classes.
The course syllabus covers a huge range of skills and know-how that are going to assist the teacher-publisher with their project: getting up to speed with Creative Commons licensing, gaining an understanding of digital literacy, design and layout concepts, tech-enhanced design and its impact on engagement, and so on. Basically, everything you need to know to become a powerhouse of self-sufficient publishing.
What’s equally as exciting as the course’s potential to enable educator-driven content creation is its way of going about it. The main course community is on Google+ and followers are required to subscribe and introduce themselves to the community. At the time of writing, the course has 492 followers and the ‘Welcome to the session’ page of the community boards is peppered with video and written intros, links to infographics and shared content that is considered (by the participants) to be relevant to the mission of the group.
The course uses Listly to share tasks, information and useful content, and certain units will be covered in Google Hangouts that participants are able to access (the first one being on the 19th January, we believe). There are also peer groups (organised by learner age range) that participants can join to contribute to the collaborative nature of the project. The course is, in every way, exemplifying the ideals and opportunities that collaborative content creation provides.
As if that wasn’t enough, the course is moderated by a panel of 15 learning/education experts from around the world, so there is a considerable amount of experience, advice and support available to the participants at each stage of their journey.
We at eltjam are very excited to see what great work this project generates, as well as what communities like this mean for the future of learning content creation. Does this signal the next era of edu-content evolution whereby published textbooks are merely the basis of what can become rich, living, personalised textbooks that masterfully reflect the learning contexts of its users (if we’re not there already)? Would publishers need to take this collaborative, globally dispersed network into account when developing new materials? Will we start to see textbooks that are ‘open-ended’ and in fact require educators to add their own materials, touches and perspectives? T
Publishers should be watching these developments with keen eyes; this promises to be a masterclass in learning content development.