The textbook is a peculiar knowledge artifact according to Dr. Cope at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
For efficiency’s sake, it summarizes the world; it is synoptic. There is no need for learners to discern what is more or less relevant knowledge, because this has been decided for them.
One author or group of authors does the summarizing; it takes the form of monologue. The textbook purports to be a complete and definite statement of what is to-be-known.
Facts, definitions and theorems are laid out in a strict order, from the simpler to the more complex, to optimize retention of the knowledge being transmitted. Students are positioned as knowledge consumers, consuming that knowledge step by step in the order that has been deemed correct for them.
21st century digital media can overcome the shortcomings of textbooks.
Using Blogger , WordPress or other blogging sites to structure student inquiry projects can be an effective way to leverage digital media. Blogging creates an authentic audience for student work, allows them to link to and analyze various digital sources and invites students to comment on their classmates’ work.
- Parents and community members can offer ideas & feedback on student posts. Here is an invitation letter that I used at my school.
- Students can create an annotated bibliography of resources that could help them answer their research question. This is one student’s self-created resource list on the economics behind the musical Hamilton
- Students can be guided on how to leave meaningful feedback using specific sentence frames.
By blogging, students become knowledge creators because it allows for multi-modal, multi-directional inquiry where students’ curiosity fuels the learning. If you are interested in using blogger with your students, you may find this video to be helpful: