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Wednesday, November 2 • 3:15pm - 3:40pm
Designing an open e-textbook for international use

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This session will present an open textbook project that arose out of a collaboration between a US and Indian university. The collaboratively-authored text is being used in courses offered at both the US university, VCU, and at the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur). In addition, students from the two universities are participating in other joint projects, including online courses and creation of a database serving both teaching and research purposes. We are planning to extend the collaboration to additional international partners and have secured partners in China, South Africa, and Russia.

The subject matter of the textbook, and of the associated courses, namely intercultural communication, calls out for an international perspective. Additionally, the principal author (US) and the collaborating author (India) approach the field from different perspectives, respectively applied linguistics and business communication. The additional partners represent more disciplinary diversity. Examples will be given of how the different viewpoints have contributed to provide a more balanced narrative. The unique perspective provided here is rarely found in commercial textbooks, which favor single national perspectives and respect traditional disciplinary boundaries.

The presentation will provide a discussion of the design of the e-text. In order to provide as much flexibility as possible, the text is modular, with no prescribed order in the units, and each unit being available separately. This allows for a mix and match usage, so instructors can leave out a particular topic or substitute in one or more chapters from other sources. The text is available in multiple formats, with the base from which all versions are created being standard HTML. Thus, content can be freely edited and repackaged. The versions made available to students in the US and India are in HTML, PDF, and EPUB. The text units also form the core of a set of online tutorials which enhance the content in a number of ways. That includes a set of learning objectives, a glossary of terms, an advanced organizer in the form of a short video clip, narrated presentations, and interactive exercises and assessments. The tutorials are available as webpages or e-books. The web version can be used as standalone webpages or integrated into a learning management system such as Blackboard or Moodle. In that case, instructors have the option of recording to the LMS gradebook individual student access to the tutorials as well as assessment scores.

Providing a variety of formats enables the text to be usable in a variety of settings, including in contexts in which mobile phone delivery is most common. One of the advantages of the e-book format is the ability to download the content once to a mobile device, where it is then available off-line. Videos in the tutorials have been reduced in length, size, and bit rate to accommodate slow connections. They are also available on YouTube, along with subtitles, an important consideration for students whose first language may not be English. The no-cost availability and international perspective of the e-text should make it attractive for others to use as well.

avatar for Prof. Robert Godwin-Jones

Prof. Robert Godwin-Jones

Professor, World Languages and International Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
Robert Godwin-Jones, Ph.D., is Professor of World Languages and International Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and past Director of the English Language Program there. His research is principally in applied linguistics, in the areas of language learning and technology and... Read More →

Wednesday November 2, 2016 3:15pm - 3:40pm EDT