Appendix 4: Independent reviews

MERLOT II Peer Review

All MERLOT materials, unlike the materials in other learning materials collections, are examined in various ways to ensure that they are useful for the MERLOT community. The Peer Review process is led by an Editor, and includes editorial board members and peer reviewers.

This book was independently selected and reviewed by MERLOT. The original review can be accessed here: https://www.merlot.org/merlot/viewCompositeReview.htm?id=1356177

Ratings

Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed

Jan 05, 2018 by Teacher Education

Overview

Teachers, instructors and faculty are facing unprecedented change, with often larger classes, more diverse students, demands from government and employers who want more accountability and the development of graduates who are workforce ready, and above all, we are all having to cope with ever changing technology. To handle change of this nature, teachers and instructors need a base of theory and knowledge that will provide a solid foundation for their teaching, no matter what changes or pressures they face.

Although the book contains many practical examples, it is more than a cookbook on how to teach. It addresses the following questions:

  •  is the nature of knowledge changing, and how do different views on the nature of knowledge result in       different approaches to teaching?
  •  what is the science and research that can best help me in my teaching?
  •  how do I decide whether my courses should be face-to-face, blended or fully online?
  •  what strategies work best when teaching in a technology-rich environment?
  •  what methods of teaching are most effective for blended and online classes?
  •  how do I make choices among all the available media, whether text, audio, video, computer, or social   media, in order to benefit my students and my subject?
  •  how do I maintain high quality in my teaching in a rapidly changing learning environment while   managing my workload?
  •  what are the real possibilities for teaching and learning using MOOCs, OERS, open textbooks?

In summary, the book examines the underlying principles that guide effective teaching in an age when everyone, and in particular the students we are teaching, are using technology. A framework and a set of guidelines are suggested for making decisions about your teaching, while understanding that every subject is different, and every teacher and instructor has something unique and special to bring to their teaching.

Type of material Open (Access) Textbook
Recommended uses

Course reading and class discussions, professional development and continuing education material

“There are many different ways this book could be used. Here are some suggestions:

  • straight read through (over several days) for personal use: this is probably the least likely, but there is a logical sequence and a continuous, coherent argument that builds up through the book;
  • read a specific chapter or section that is useful for you, and come back later to other sections or chapters as you need them (use the list of contents on the home page as a guide);
  • do the activities that follow most sections;
  • use the book as the core reading for a course (or part of a course) on how to teach in a digital age.
  • you can use the activities I have suggested, or, if you use one of the editing formats (XHTML, Pressbooks XML or WordPress XML), you can replace the activities with your own
  • at this stage it is NOT possible to output just sections of the book, without making special arrangements” (p. 4).
 Technical     requirements Can be read online at https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/ or downloaded as a PDF (requiring PDF reader software, which is freely available).
 Identify major   learning  goals The book examines the underlying principles that guide effective teaching in an age when everyone, and in particular the students we are teaching, are using technology. A framework and a set of guidelines are suggested for making decisions about your teaching, while understanding that every subject is different, and every teacher and instructor has something unique and special to bring to their teaching.

This book answers the following questions (from p. 1):

  • is the nature of knowledge changing, and how do different views on the nature of knowledge result in? • different approaches to teaching?
  • what is the science and research that can best help me in my teaching?
  • how do I decide whether my courses should be face-to-face, blended or fully online?
  • what strategies work best when teaching in a technology-rich environment?
  • what methods of teaching are most effective for blended and online classes?
  • how do I make choices among all the available media, whether text, audio, video, computer, or social media, in order to benefit my students and my subject?
  • how do I maintain high quality in my teaching in a rapidly changing learning environment while managing my workload?
  • what are the real possibilities for teaching and learning using MOOCs, OERS, open textbooks?
Target student population This book is appropriate for use by teacher educators, instructional designers, curriculum designers, practicing instructors, administration, those who support teachers, and those who are studying in the field of education.

“The audience I am reaching out for are primarily college and university instructors anxious to improve their teaching or facing major challenges in the classroom, such as very large numbers of students or rapidly changing curricula, and also to many school teachers, particularly in secondary or high schools anxious to ensure their students are ready for either post-secondary education or a rapidly changing and highly uncertain job market. In particular the book is aimed at teachers and instructors anxious to make the best use of technology for teaching” p. 1-2).

Evaluation and observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: 

  • Provides clear examples (in the form of scenarios) to illustrate concepts in the chapters.
  • Reviews (briefly but quite well) concepts underlying larger concepts (e.g., epistemology as a whole when addressing paradigms such as constructivism specifically).
  • References a wide variety of research in the field.
  • The content is timely. Students in a teacher education program are presented with how the digital skills are used by their students. The teacher candidates learn about digital skills and how to help students use those skills.

Concerns:

  • None.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:

  • One strength is the framework this text offers for making decisions about one’s teaching.
  • It is an enabling resource for the teacher to help students develop the knowledge and skills required in the 21st century digital age.
  • The learning objectives are identified throughout the book.
  • Concepts build on one another and the author references connections to other ideas in the book throughout.

Concerns:

  • The book is dense (at over 600 pages) and therefore is not concise, although it really isn’t meant to be concise.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

  • Navigation within each chapter is very user friendly. Chapter sections scroll toward the top of the screen. To navigate to the next section, an arrow is clearly present to move forward or backward.
  • Good use of graphics and charts to supplement the context of the section.
  • Activities are placed throughout the text for readers to apply or reinforce the skills being taught.
  • The book is easily accessed online or through downloading.
  • Interactive links bring you to the exact point in the book where you wish to read.
  • The illustrations are clear and helpful with adequate labelling.

Concerns:

  • None
Comments from Author: In response to our review, the author noted that the French translation of the book has been adopted by the French Ministry of Education’s MEES, a certification required by any new teacher to be licensed to teach in the k-12 sector in France.