The Dirty Secret to Instant Courses

Just had the best conversation with someone on why faculty don’t use open content.

Because, they say, you don’t put together a course that way. The way any sane individual puts together a course is

1) Choose a textbook on the main subject. The students will read out of this.

2) Choose a second text for the students, something to reflect on. If the textbook is on economics, make the reflection text a short popular text about the economics of education, or the economics of oil.

3) For lectures — here’s the “dirty little secret” as he calls it — you get a second main textbook that you don’t assign the students. So if you have the Mankiw text on Econ 101, you get the Krugman textbook on Econ 101 for your own use, and you lecture out of that — you read the Mankiw chapter the students read, secretly read the Krugman chapter, then for your lecture you go through the Mankiw chapter but adding the additional perspective from Krugman.

And bang — instant course. You can literally put together a course in a week.

So what problem would open teaching resources solve? You need to assign your students a text anyway, your class needs to meet; what do your resources solve, if this is the accepted method?

Fascinating to me. I didn’t know about the “secret text” method, but it makes perfect sense, and it’s brilliant in it’s own way.  This person used to do things this way until very recently, when they got inspired to rethink the process.  And luckily they had the honesty to tell me how it’s done, how you get your lecture template together in a very short time  – I never knew.

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