Title

Customization of Curriculum Materials in Science: Motives, Challenges, and Opportunities

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-2012

Abstract

Exemplary science instructors use inquiry to tailor content to student’s learning needs; traditional textbooks treat science as a set of facts and a rigid curriculum. Publishers now allow instructors to compile pieces of published and/or self-authored text to make custom textbooks. This brings numerous advantages, including the ability to produce smaller, cheaper text and added flexibility on the teaching models used. Moreover, the internet allows instructors to decentralize textbooks through easy access to educational objects such as audiovisual simulations, individual textbook chapters, and scholarly research articles. However, these new opportunities bring with them new problems. With educational materials easy to access, manipulate and duplicate, it is necessary to define intellectual property boundaries, and the need to secure documents against unlawful copying and use is paramount. Engineers are developing and enhancing information embedding technologies, including steganography, cryptography, watermarking, and fingerprinting, to label and protect intellectual property. While these are showing their utility in securing information, hackers continue to find loop holes in these protection schemes, forcing engineers to constantly assess the algorithms to make them as secure as possible. As newer technologies rise, people still question whether custom publishing is desirable. Many instructors see the process as complex, costly, and substandard in comparison to using traditional text. Publishing companies are working to improve attitudes through advertising. What lacks is peer reviewed evidence showing that custom publishing improves learning. Studies exploring the effect of custom course materials on student attitude and learning outcomes are a necessary next step.

DOI

10.1007/s10956-010-9278-8