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Do students learn rapidly developing fields better without textbooks?

    • Brad Fowler, Georgia College
    • Bryan Marshall, Georgia College
    • Peter Cardon, University of Southern California

    Many fields develop more rapidly than textbook production cycles can keep up with. In many of these rapidly developing fields, experts within and outside academics produce learning materials on platforms such as Lynda, Udemy, and even YouTube. These platforms typically stay more current because of ease of developing content, more modular or more granular learning units, more potential knowledge contributors, and visual and user-friendly approaches to training and instruction. IS and IT are prototypical of these rapidly developing fields that are well represented on Lynda, Udemy, YouTube, and other online platforms.

    Aside from the currency of content, students may view textbooks and these online platforms differently based on engagement. Every faculty member knows the pains students go through to do as little as possible. Some students do not even purchase the required textbook for their courses. Other students have reported not even opening the book. In part, this may be because Gen Z students are more familiar with a YouTube-approach to learning. Also, some faculty use textbooks as a crutch to get through a course. They use the powerpoints provided by the textbook and essentially teach in a non-interactive way. New resources like Lynda, Udemy, and YouTube have become available and are used by people inside and outside of their professions to gain new knowledge and skills in chunk-sized, interactive, and relevant ways. Thus, the questions we are researching in the context of rapidly developing fields are the following: Are textbooks still the most effective way to support student learning in IS and IT courses? When students enter the workforce how will they continue to learn and adapt with new technologies? Will they use textbooks as resources, or will they be trying to figure it out online?

    The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that influence student learning as it pertains to textbooks. We have developed a research study that uses two separate (similar) classes to control for learning from a textbook versus learning from publicly available content on online platforms. In one class we used a traditional textbook. In the other class we used an outline of the course and had the students search for information on the topic. Students then developed detailed notes on the subject matter using Microsoft OneNote and turned it in for grades. We are continuing the study into next year to increase our sample size and refine the study.

    APA Citation: Do Students Learn Rapidly Developing Fields Better Without Textbooks?  59th Annual International Association of Computer Information Systems, October 2, 2019, with B. Fowler, B. Marshall, and P. Cardon.