Saturday, June 2, 2012

Temple U. Project Ditches Textbooks for Homemade Digital Alternatives


When students groan about buying traditional textbooks, their grievances follow a familiar refrain: They’re expensive and usually boring. So this fall, a team of Temple University professors heeded those complaints and abandoned the old-fashioned texts for low-cost alternatives that they built from scratch.

The pilot project gave 11 faculty members $1,000 each to create a digital alternative to a traditional textbook. To enliven their students’ reading, the instructors pulled together primary-source documents and material culled from library archives. Steven J. Bell, the associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple, said the project tried to create new kinds of learning experiences while saving students money at the same time. The textbooks covered a variety of subjects, including biomechanics, writing, and marketing. The Temple program mirrors a similar effort announced at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in December.

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