Textbook Survey Results

A total of 32 instructors completed the survey about textbooks, providing us with invaluable information on the instructor viewpoint on textbooks and their use in PACE classes. Thank you to everyone who participated.   The responses give us an opportunity to look at what we can do better collectively, and to share some information so that we are on a common understanding.

There was a scattering of responses about the question on whether or not textbooks are mandatory, indicating a shortcoming on our part about sharing that information. With the exception of articulated courses, textbooks are optional. Articulated courses, such as Business Fundamentals, require a textbook for the course, however outside of those courses, instructors can choose to have a textbook as required, as optional, or not at all.   (If you’d like to see the full list of articulated courses, click here: http://pace.uwinnipegcourses.ca/pathways-uw-degrees )

When listing a textbook as required, PACE is expecting that 75 to 100% of the textbook will be used in the course. This is to avoid students purchasing a textbook and then not making use of it.  The majority of the survey respondents indicated that they are using 75% or more of the book.  Most are using the text book as reference material for the course, followed by pre-reading, and then for in class exercises.  Making regular and frequent use of the textbook is important to us, as it validates the students’ expense.

A small majority of respondents feel that 75% or more of the students are buying textbooks. To help achieve that, ideas include verbal reminders in class, including talking about the benefits of the textbook, reminding students of different purchasing options (new, used, rental, e-versions), and doing in class exercises that require students to have the textbook.

For our part, PACE will continue to work with students on the messaging of the importance of purchasing textbooks. As instructors, it’s important to plan how to include the textbook in a meaningful way so that the student learning experience benefits from having the textbook.   If you experience frustration about students not purchasing textbooks, reach out to your program manager for a discussion so that we are aware of the issue as it happens and can look at the issues and address them.

Showing a video, consider closed captioning

If you are sharing a video with your PACE class, it’s a good idea to turn on the closed captioning.  Depending on where students are sitting in the room, there are sometimes background sounds that interfere with the speakers.  For students who have learned English as an additional language, there may be words or terms that they are unfamiliar with and seeing them in type is a benefit.  Lastly, for some students with hearing impairment, having the closed captioning on helps them learn the material. ]

Thanks to the 2017 Fall NSD class for bringing this up when I put on a video last month.

Getting more out of the Smartboard

Are you presenting in one of the classrooms equipped with the new Smartboard?  Did you know that you can share the whiteboard with the class?  Students can interact with the board, live,  take their own snapshots of the content, and make notes, all without any software!

To connect to the whiteboard, download Smart Kapp app to your phone or tablet.  Have Bluetooth connecting on, open the app, present the camera to the QR code on the board and now you can share!

I share the link to my email account, then paste it into a  Nexus email that I share with the students from the desktop in the classroom.  Students click on the link on their laptop or tablet (I haven’t tried with a phone yet), and they are connected to the white board through a web link.  No software required!

Students can add to the white board discussion, interact with the work on the board, and save the work directly to their device. It’s a great way to have voting, discussions, comments, brain storming, done live with the students and getting them involved in the creation of the work.


Preventing plagiarism: Changing Assignments

A common problem in many universities is the ‘recycled paper’.  These are assignment submissions that students obtain from previous students and resubmitted in the same course.

To help prevent this, it’s important for instructors to change or vary the assignments in such a way that students cannot do this.  Changes to the assignment should be done around the learning outcome point, so that students attempting to recycle a paper are forced to think about the ‘problem’ in the area of the topic being assessed.

Regularly changing assignments helps take away the temptation for students to resubmit old work.  It’s just one part of many pieces in preventing academic misconduct issues.

A Student’s Perspective

When you plan your day in the classroom, do you ever think of what it’s going to be like for the student?  A recent podcast from Teaching in Higher Education raised that exact issue:


It’s a little different from our students, as it’s about a US college student’s view, but it is a good reminder that the student needs to be considered in planning and carrying out a the day.

Some small tips are there:

-no one likes an instructor who reads PowerPoint slides to the class for an hour

-students like to be involved

-students like to here from their classmates

Food for thought.  I encourage you to click on the link and give a listen.