Offering students a choice of resources

Offering students a choice of resources

by Lesley Graham

I would like to make a comment based on my own experience over the years regarding the different resources available for courses.

Using medical terminology as an example, the students have been offered various media, but have almost always - over the fifteen years - wanted to use a text book.  Even when the whole course has been offered in a format to transfer onto their own personal computer, students either printed the book off, page by page, or asked for the text book to be mailed out (the extra cost was often absorbed by us as a goodwill gesture).

As one publisher said:

... just because it is possible to do something new with technology it doesn’t mean it is the best way ...

Personally, what I have found to work well so far is to send out a text book and have the students email back their assignments (fifteen years ago they were mainly sent in by mail).

When comparing electronic with hardcopy, it could be that tired eyes and eye discomfort may be a factor when viewing a lit screen for long periods of time. Some also say that comprehension is quicker with hard copy. Here’s an extract from another publisher:

... Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people's attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper ...

When it comes to audio, at the moment the students are given a code to access the files on the internet (a CD used previously is being phased out).  One of the assignments requires the students to pronounce medical words – it is interesting to see how technology rapidly has changed with the way they send in their assignment - from landline phone calls to audio files sent via SMS messages or email.

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