Many Disciplines, One Goal

Inaugural Book Launch Cohort Selected

Andrew Hoelmer, Book Launch Cohort

Five groups of people coming from all sides of the educational spectrum with one common goal: Create digital books to facilitate innovative teaching and learning at Ohio State. 

Recently, the autumn 2014 Book Launch cohort celebrated with a kickoff meeting before their fingers hit the keys and their hard work begins. At the kickoff, the groups were given the opportunity to introduce themselves to one another, present their book ideas and meet the ODEE team who will support them throughout their Book Launch experience.

The books will hit Ohio State's Digital Bookstore in January 2015. As part of the ODEE's mission to provide affordable textbooks to students at Ohio State and the rest of the world, these digital books will be made available to purchase at no or very low cost, especially when compared to the high cost of conventional, printed textbooks.

Now, let's take a look at some of the projects featured in this inaugural cohort:

Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium

Led by Dr. Barbara Ryden and Dr. Richard Pogge from the Department of Astronomy will produce the first of a multiple part interactive digital book series for graduate students in Astronomy at Ohio State and to share throughout the world. Graduate students at Ohio State are trained in "order-of-magnitude" thinking, typically meaning they are required to purchase expensive and large textbooks that don't require in-depth reading. With students having tight budgets and being required to buy unnecessary materials, Dr.'s Ryden and Pogge wanted to develop a shorter, less in-depth version of the same material, which supports the pedagogical methodology.

"Tailored specifically to Ohio State's Astronomy curriculum, we will provide a very inexpensive and interactive alternative to the traditional astronomy textbook," said Ryden.

Principles of Weed Ecology and Management

Led by Bruce Ackley from the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Principles of Weed Ecology and Management will reach far beyond both on-campus and online students. The book will act as a global resource featuring high quantities of interactive material such as 3-D objects, videos, interactive images and more. The purpose of the book is so that students, professionals or amateurs in their gardens can learn about and identify common weeds in an engaging format. Considering the digital format, additions can be made to the book after initial publication to add more strains of weeds furthering the reach of the educational resource.

"Not everyone has the opportunity to have a shelf full of books containing different weeds to identify and it's expensive," said Ackley. "In our digital book, we're going to create high resolution and 3-D images to help kick start a comprehensive identification tool on one, single platform." 

SPARK: Literacy Strategies and Supports for Out Of School Learning Experiences

Led by Edward Hill at the Ohio Resource Center for the Department of Education and Human Ecology, SPARK is a digital book to be used extensively by educators throughout the state of Ohio. It will enhance and extend the ORC's current training and development opportunities to administrators of out of school programs in the state. Current materials are limited to face-to-face training with printed documents and presentations. The project team intends to develop SPARK as a resource that can reach a much wider audience increasing reader engagement with interactive and media rich elements. 

"Research has shown that kids sometimes lose ground with their education during the summer months," said Hill. "We hope to SPARK ways to bridge that educational gap both in the summer and during out of or after school programs."  

Leadership Road Trip

Led by Jane Wright for the 4-H Youth Development group within Ohio State's College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, this digital book will experience 4-H's experiential learning model. The book will act as a proof of concept containing more than 200 similar publications created for 4-H participants in Ohio and throughout the United States. Leadership Road Trip will cover leadership topics that are geared towards the almost 300,000 K-12 4-H participants in Ohio. The students will be able to document and share lessons from the book throughout the school year in addition to having a mobile-ready option for the students within the program.

"We sell more than 200 project books in other states for 4-H participants on a wide range of topics," said Wright. "I'm very excited to reach our kids through this medium and provide a more comprehensive resource encompassing more than one topic at a time."

Microbiology 4000 Interactive Lab Manual

Led by Mette Ibba from the Department of Microbiology to develop a digital version of the existing Microbiology 4000 course lab manual. She and her team promise to greatly enhance the book's content by bringing static elements to life. They also hope to build student engagement, improve integration of the lecture component of the course and be part of a holistic plan to modernize this lab through the use of iPads. The team hopes the book with it's availability in the iBooks Store, will impact more than just roughly 1,500 Ohio State students every year who are enrolled in this General Education course.

"Most of our students take this course because they have to as a requirement for their major, not because they're particularly interested in microbiology," said Ibba. "So we hope making a more exciting lab manual in the digital format will help generate interest in our program."