THE FUTURE OF ONLINE COURSE READINGS: USING LIBRARY RESOURCES AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO TEXTBOOKS
This paper presents the results of a collaboration between a California business school and their university's library to provide adult students an alternative to textbooks in an online, undergraduate entrepreneurship program. Instead of a traditional textbook, students were given prompts to search the library’s e-resources. The benefits of this practice were twofold: it eliminated the textbook costs for students and provided an opportunity to develop information literacy skills. Beginning as a pilot project in July 2017, the project was implemented in January 2018 and has been ongoing.
In this paper, the authors review the use of traditional texts in both online and business-related classes and describe the rationale for using online library resources as an alternative. Constructivist learning theory and peer-to-peer learning principles guide the project. These theories are seen through the students’ self-discovery and choice of library resources, and in the prompted discussion and evaluation of the discovered sources. The Association for College Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Framework was also utilized during activity design, to develop students’ search and critical thinking skills.
The authors conclude that having the students use online library databases to access and search for their resources that act as an alternative to texts provides students with current information that can be limited and guided by the professor but also tailored by students to meet their specific interests and projects. This process also encourages stronger information literacy and critical thinking skills that will be utilized in future courses and throughout their entire program. This online class activity provides an opportunity for students to share the resources they have found, and discuss the resources’ value and their search strategies, which opens the door for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration. Lastly, students improve their time-management skills by completing small stages of their research each week and save the increasingly high cost of printed textbooks. The authors provide results of an informal student evaluation as well as a comparison of student work with this program and previous courses using textbooks only.