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Taking Matters into Your Own Hands: Is Creating an E-Textbook for You?

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Off the Beaten Path

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.10.1 - 25.10.11



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Paper Authors


Kathy Schmidt Jackson Pennsylvania State University

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Kathy Jackson is a Senior Research Associate at Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. In this position, she promotes Penn State’s commitment to enriching teaching and learning. Jackson works in all aspects of education including faculty development, instructional design, engineering education, learner support, and evaluation.

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Randy L. Vander Wal Pennsylvania State University

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Randy Vander Wal has published more than 100 papers, and has numerous research projects in the areas of energy conversion, storage and efficiency. Related work is focused on nanomaterials for their use in catalysis, batteries, and composites. His research group conducts electron-based microscopic and spectroscopic characterization of nanomaterials for these applications. Vander Wal teaches courses in these areas and in environmental science in the the John and Willie Leone Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University.

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Taking Matters into Your Own Hands: Is Creating an E-Textbook for You?As higher education evolves, one instructional tool, the classic textbook, is undergoingmany transformations. Now viewed by many as outdated and in need of re-conceptualization, some instructors are opting out of published textbooks and insteaddesigning content for their courses on an as-needed basis by creating electronic classreadings from an array of resources. While the limitations of textbooks are not new,today’s technologic advances afford many options for alternatives to textbooks.Furthermore, certain fields, by their very nature, dictate the need for currency and thecourse described in this paper is one such course for it covers alternative energy sources.This course, in the emerging field of energy engineering, is an upper-­‐level course with asubstantial component focusing upon conceptual analysis and inter-­‐related science,engineering and economic aspects. Teaching any class with a strong component oftheory, abstract thinking and real-­‐world applications, requires making tradeoffs and thenew professor teaching this class is juggling not only experimenting with new pedagogiesto empower students to be responsible for their own learning and to encourage theirability to synthesize information, he is also adapting to the time and effort involved increating a course reference site from a diverse range of sources. Many beginningengineering faculty who are adjusting to the demands of academia, might find developinga course “textbook” a questionable endeavor and this paper will address these concernsand will share the approaches taken in an attempt to mitigate time limitations. Attendeeswill benefit from hearing some of the hard-learned lessons on this textbook creationprocess as well as hearing about instructional issues that arise when a standard textbookis not employed. We will share ideas to help the audience think about this process as wellas pedagogical considerations that can arise due to the absence of a standard textbook.

Jackson, K. S., & Vander Wal, R. L. (2012, June), Taking Matters into Your Own Hands: Is Creating an E-Textbook for You? Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20766

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