Monday, February 21, 2011

Publisher extras for instructors

Okay, this is just a short post to bitch about publisher extras for instructors. I actually appreciate the supplemental materials that can come with textbooks, such as PowerPoint presentations, glossaries of terms and definitions, quizzes and testbanks, in-class exercises, etc. I seldom use them without tweaking them a little bit, but they can really help me think about the important concepts I want students to understand, new ways to help students get into the material, etc.

That said, who does the editing for these things? The PowerPoints are the worst: always incredibly ugly templates, poorly laid out on the screen, and lacking notes and other resources that make PPT lecture materials useful. One might even build in examples and questions that would break up an especially boring lecture, the way real lecturers do! Exercises can be very unclear, and quizzes and tests can include questions on the most mundane topics, completely bypassing the central topics being discussed in the chapter.

If you are going to ask authors to spend time creating these supplemental materials, make them worthwhile! Have someone edit these materials as well.

**Walks away grumbling to continue editing the PPT for class. 

4 comments:

nakedphilologist said...

A friend of mine copy-edits these things! Probably not the specific ones you're using, but she complains to me that they come to her in terrible shape, badly spelled and hideously formatted. I guess she can't do much about the *content* side of it, as a copy-editor, but evidently someone on the content-producing side is shabby at their job...

Nicoleandmaggie said...

These things are all written by grad students and other freelancers for very low pay. The quality is sad but not surprising. Almost everything the publisher gives you, besides the book, is NOT written by people who are actually teaching the subject regularly.

Breena said...

I was talking to the professor I am working with this quarter about helping the publisher for her textbook with supplemental materials. I'm a PhD student but I know I could write something better than most of what I have seen. Of course, very few people seem to know how to make a decent powerpoint presentation.

stevenb said...

Why are you making students buy the textbook in the first place? I imagine that you could either find a suitable open access textbook or compile the resources your students need to learn the course material. It will no doubt require an initial investment of time, but your students would no doubt appreciate it - and you'll be sending a message to the publishers that you don't need all the filler.