Last week I wrote a blog posting on the Swansea Learning Lab about the new-to-uk Amazon Kindle and a followup in Reflections about textbook availabilty and prices. I’ve actually been a long term subscriber to O’Reilly’s Safari Books online service (http://www.safaribooksonline.com/) , which for $42.99 (about £27) per month (which includes VAT), gives me access to the entire O’Reilly catalogue as well as many offerings from Addison Wesley, John Wiley and other familiar textbook publishers. Now $42.99 a month is not in the reach of students, but the “lite” offering of a 5 book “bookshelf” subscription for $9.99 might be. And of further interest is that as the books are made available on a web site and there is a mobile version m.safaribooksonline.com that works with mobiles and the Kindle.
I’ve been a long-time admirer of the Head First series of books since the dim and distant days of Head First EJB. I have quite a collection of these books myself and often recommend them to students who want to do some self-directed learning, say to learn Java or HTML and CSS.
Every book starts by explaining the pedagogical principles (developed by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates) behind the books and these principles are enumerated on the Head First labs site.
My question is can these principles be adapted to a lecture course?
I’m going to spend some of the remainder of this summer evaluating a couple of the newer books for one of my modules and I’ll be trying to keep these principles in mind as I do so.
So what does it take to learn something? First, you have to get it, then make sure you don’t forget it. It’s not about pushing facts into your head. Based on the latest research in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology, learning takes a lot more than text on a page. We know what turns your brain on.