Book Reviews

Book By: John D. Shank
Review By: Lauren Albaum
Academic Advisor, Chemistry Department
University of South Florida

Simply stated, technological advancements have left instructors and administrators scrambling to keep students engaged. Limitations abound in the form of change-adverse personnel and systems, inadequate resources and a lack of knowledge surrounding potential new and innovated practices. Yet, as higher education professionals continue to interact with digital natives, we must find ways to connect with them in the ever changing digital age. That is where Interactive Open Educational Resources comes in with resources for finding and implementing resources to positively impact college teaching.

Simplistically broken down into thorough yet manageable parts, Interactive Open Educational Resources provides an overview of interactive learning materials (referred to as ILMs), ways to find ILMs and how to choose and use ILMs. The emergence of ILMs challenge us to retool our steadfast and routinely archaic ideologies surrounding college teaching and replace them with high quality, interactive, digital learning materials.

In the first section, the author does an exquisite job setting the stage for interactive learning materials. Shank states that these instructional resources are used to meet specific learning objectives and are able to be shared over the internet, adding to a continuously growing digital resource database. The book defines the five key elements of an ILM (core content, hypermedia, decision-making activities, learner assessment and feedback) as necessary to facilitate student interaction.

Equated to a research process, the second part discusses ways to discover useful ILMs. Also beginning in this section, Shank incorporates useful quick tips giving the book the feel of a helpful step-by-step guide. Interestingly, chapter seven discusses how ILMs have been making a difference for other non-profit organizations such as government agencies. Information from this chapter is useful for us to benchmark our practices with other successful entities.

Part three may be found by many to be the most useful section including the selection, implementation and assessment process. The succinct explanations in chapter nine of the potential impact of ILMs are a wonderful resource for garnering support of digital resources. My favorite chapter in the book is chapter ten, “The Assessment Process: The Impact of ILMs on Student Learning.” Perfectly articulated by the author is the idea that assessing the influence of ILMS is imperative to our understanding of the usefulness of these new tools.

I highly recommend this book for faculty, academic advisors and all higher educational professionals. Although the content is geared more closely to faculty and instructors, all university personnel should be aware of new, potentially significant mechanisms to impact student achievement. With clear descriptions and instructions for finding quality resources, the author has provided an abundance of information and tools for practitioners to apply across multiple disciplines. Overall, after reading Interactive Open Educational Resources, higher education professionals will begin to see the impact that transforming the college teaching process can have on student learning and success. 

Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What’s Out There to Transform College Teaching. (2014). Book by John D. Shank. Review by Lauren Albaum. Wiley. 196 pp. $38.00. (Paperback). ISBN # 978-1-118-27745-4.

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