Building a Student-Friendly Course

Building a Student-Friendly Course

Summer may be a welcome respite for students, but it rarely is for faculty! Research, writing articles, attending professional conferences, preparing new programs and courses – a professor’s job is never done.

The library has always been a great tool for professors in teaching their classes. It’s a place to send students to broaden their understanding, and find books and journals that support their arguments. But it can be an asset right from the beginning, in the planning phase of new courses.

Most classes require a lot of material. This is sensible – students have to be exposed to a lot of ideas and perspectives, after all. It follows that they would need to read the work of a lot of authors. But the cost of buying all that can add up quickly – and strain student budgets. Faculty can’t very well respond to this by assigning less – you are doing the right thing by incorporating so much material. But the library can help ease this burden.

The easiest way to make a text widely available is to put it on reserve. We can put any book or video on reserve – whether it belongs to the library or to the professor. The request form is available online here. If you have an extra desk or preview copy of your textbook, consider putting it on reserve.

But what about online students? IU East subscribes to several large ebook collections that have many academic titles. When still in the planning phases of a course, try browsing these collections first to see if there are any materials that are suitable for using as a course textbook – often there are. For example, is there really much of a difference between American Politics and Society by David McKay, a book available through eBrary, and American Politics Today by William Bianco, a book that is not? Or between Justice, Crime, and Ethics by Belinda McCarthy, in EBSCO Ebooks, or Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice by Joycelyn Pollock, which isn’t? When choosing materials, there is often an equivalent item that students can be assigned available in an ebook collection. EBSCO Ebooks even plans to have a mobile app in place by the start of next semester for added convenience.

And what of videos? Again, try a video database like VAST first. For example, if you are connecting course material to this year’s One Book program, you may find a video like Positive Voices: Living with HIV/AIDS, available through VAST, to be just as useful as something like AIDS in America: The Crisis Continues, which is not. Assigning a video in a library database has the benefit of being easily available to a student who is out sick the day the video is shown, or to distance students. Links to these videos can even be included in your course site through Canvas or OnCourse.

vast video

The library can be a great help to you, even in the beginning phases of designing a class. We can make courses less expensive, and material more convenient to access. Your students will thank you!

Any questions? Ask us at iueref@iue.edu!

Leave a Reply