There are a bazillion tools for writing textbooks. FlippedTextbook is different.
Good. Tell me, what makes a good textbook?
No, seriously. Let's be pragmatic and hard-headed. Think it through.
OK. "Do" means you're talking about skills, like writing, and programming. Not just memorizing.
Students learn through experiences, like hearing lectures, reading about concepts, working on exercises, etc.
Not all experiences are equal. For example, learning science research tells us that lecturing is not so good at helping students learn skills. It's better to give students lots of exercises, with formative feedback. This is the essence of the flipped class. Learn concepts outside of class, through reading and videos. Practice inside class, where students can get one-on-one help then they need it.
Instructors create experiences. They lecture, set tasks, grade, and so on. Instructors use resources, like textbooks, to help create experiences for students.
A good textbook:
- Is just one part of the learning process.
- Helps students and instructors achieve learning outcomes.
- Helps them do so effectively and efficiently, that is, helps them get a good learning return for every hour and dollar they invest.
FlippedTextbook helps authors write books that are like this.
An example. Let's stay focused on learning skills, like algebra, or writing. According to the research, what is the best thing you can do for students?
Is that what happens in the real world? In a programming class, say. Students should be writing three or four programs per week, and getting quick, detailed feedback about each one. With a chance to resubmit every exercise until they get it right.
Is there no way to make it practical?
Right! Imagine a book with very good explanations of concepts, plus a work flow that allowed for frequent feedback. Crunchy learning science goodness, made practical. We could start to deliver on the promise of effective, efficient skill learning.
Yes, lots of it. For example, recent research says that students learn better from books that have "pedagogical agents." Think of them as characters, that speak to readers in a conversational tone.
Sorry about that. But there's someone reading this right now, who's made it this far down in what's turned out to be a l-o-n-g home page.
OK. Skills are hard to learn. Skill courses are hard to teach. But learning science shows us how to make skill learning effective and efficient. Frequent formative feedback, pedagogical agents, other things.
A textbook for a skills course could use those practices. It would make high-quality flipped courses easier for students and instructors.
FlippedTextbook - this site - helps authors write these kinds of textbooks. It has tools for writing exercises, embedding them in textbook pages, letting students enter solutions, and helping instructors (or others) give fast formative feedback. There are tools that help format conversations between characters, who recur throughout a book. There are tools for design patterns, resource lists, cooperative authoring, learner group management... Plus reporting tools that give fine-grained data on student performance.
At least, those tools will exist at some point. There's still much work to be done.
The intent is to help anyone create their own textbooks, on their own topics, for their own audience. Want to write a flipped math book for a single school district? Do it here. Or maybe just a chapter or two, to get your feet wet.
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