Textbook Alternatives

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.

Blogged with the [Flock Browser](http://www.flock.com/blogged-with-flock “Flock Browser”)

Learning Pedagogy Head First

I’ve been a long-time admirer of the [Head First](http://www.headfirstlabs.com/index.php) series of books since the dim and distant days of [Head First EJB](http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596005719/). 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](http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596009205/) or [HTML and CSS](http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596101978/).

Every book starts by explaining the pedagogical principles (developed by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates) behind the books and these principles are [enumerated](http://www.headfirstlabs.com/readme.php) 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.


[See more at http://www.headfirstlabs.com](http://www.headfirstlabs.com/readme.phphttp://www.headfirstlabs.com/readme.php“)