The Media Professor’s Textbook Dilemma

The Media Professor’s Textbook Dilemma

One small part of my main office bookshelf. Some really good books here, but few I've actually adopted for courses.
One small part of my main office bookshelf. Some really good books here, but few I’ve actually adopted for courses.

Every semester, the textbook challenge rises again.

  1. Does a specific course really need a textbook?
  2. Is there such a thing as a truly up-to-date print textbook on a media-related topic?
  3. Could we get by entirely or mostly on freely available/library-accessible online readings, tutorials, MOOC segments and other bits of vetted content?
  4. Why are there still no online, interactive services to teach some of these topics (e.g., grammar, AP style) more effectively for individual learners than an expensive textbook can, either for free or at an affordable cost? I haven’t yet found one that is truly reliable (i.e., doesn’t crash or otherwise lose students’ work) and that would ideally interface nicely with Blackboard, our campus’ LMS.
  5. If I do select a print textbook, which design is best: one that is eye-catching and scattered, filled with colorful graphics, listicles and sidebars on every page; or one that is more traditional, focused and dense? The former seems like it’s meant for today’s reader, and yet I hear some students say that style is distracting and lacks cohesion; the latter looks boring, but may be more informative and present concepts more deeply.

I am really looking forward to digital, affordable, multiplatform, cleanly designed, adaptive, customizable, and continuously updated media/journalism textbooks and learning tools. Someday…

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