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Mass Media | Complete Chapter

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Over the past few weeks (months? I lose track) I’ve been assiduously assembling a series of mass media booklets from Notes that have been hanging around taking up space on a hard drive for the past few years. Where I’ve thought it necessary – either because I wanted to include some updated material or because a section had become a little outdated (mainly where statistical data was involved) – I’ve added some newer stuff. This gives the chapters a bit more contemporary relevance, particularly where it relates to the fast-moving world of new media, but the main objective here was simply to provide solid coverage of the general ideas and principles involved in studying the mass media.

Having posted the Notes as individual units (as pdf docs and online flipbooks) I thought it might be helpful to gather them together into a complete Mass Media chapter, again as both a pdf document and online flipbook.

I’m not sure why but it seemed like a good idea when I thought of – and actually did – it, so it seems like a waste of time and effort not to bung it online.

So there you have it.

The complete chapter has five main media sections, each of which are still available as individual pdf documents / flipbooks if you want to distribute them to your students in that way – and you can, as no-one ever says anymore, read all about ’em here:

Defining and Researching the Mass Media

The Ownership and Control Debate 

The Selection and Presentation of News

Media Representations 

Media Effects 

Mass Media 5 | Effects

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

The final chapter in this series on the Mass Media to accompany the chapters on:
Defining and Researching the Media,
The Ownership and Control Debate,
The Selection and Presentation of News and
Media Representations

looks at a range of models of Media Effects: how and in what ways (if any) the mass media affects individual and social behaviour.

The first – main – section of the chapter covers a number of direct and indirect affects models (from the Hypodermic to Cultural Effects) plus an extensive and updated section on postmodernism / post-effects theory (audience as media, media as audience…).

The second, much shorter section, moves the focus away from media effects on individuals and groups to look at possible effects – both positive and negative – on society as a whole.

Update
This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.

Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Batch of Contenders

Thursday, May 16th, 2019
Seeing Sociology

Those of you with long(ish) memories may recall the previous posts in a series that delivers a variety of slightly out-of-date sociology textbooks found gathering dust and mould in some unloved corners of the Internet to your desktop (Sociology Textbooks for Free and More Free Sociology Texts).

If you do remember them you’ll no-doubt be pleased to know that I’ve been out rummaging once more and have collected a further batch of out-of-print editions of once-loved textbooks-that-have-been-replaced-by-newer-shinier-versions.

And if you don’t, this should all come as a pleasant surprise.

As ever, I’ve held fast to only two basic criteria when selecting the books (three if you count the fact that there’s not, in truth, a great deal of selecting going on behind the scenes, or four if you include the proviso they must be freely available “somewhere on the web” – i.e. I’m just the messenger bringing them to you).

The first is they need to have been published in the 21st century (arbitrary I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I’ve drawn it).

The second is that they should be out-of-print. i.e. they’re not being sold anywhere or have been supplanted by newer versions.

Continue to the textbooks

Free Textbook: Sociology in Focus for AS

Friday, February 8th, 2019
Sociology in Focus: Families and Households

For those of you with long(ish) memories, the original Sociology in Focus textbook first appeared in the mid-1990’s and I remember being quite taken by its novel(ish) attempt to reinvent “The Textbook” as something more than just a lot of pages with a lot of text.

Although it did, with hindsight, actually have “a lot of text” (they were much simpler times) it also had colour pages (if you include pale blue, black and white as “colour”), pictures (even though they were black and white, they still counted), activities and questions.

A lot of questions.

None of which had answers.

You had to buy a separate resource if you wanted answers (something I casually mention in an apparently throwaway fashion that at some point in the future you will look back on and think “Ah! Foreshadowing).

Anyway.

Around 2004 Sociology in Focus was reinvented as a fully-fledged “Modern Text” with colour-coded sections, colour pictures and less text.  A lot less text.

Although it was basically the same format laid-down by the original (activities, questions…) with a more student-friendly “down with the kids” vibe, it was now split into two books, one for AS-level and one for A2.

Which brings me to 2009 and the emergence of a “2nd edition” (that was really a 3rd edition, but who’s counting?), suitably reorganised to take account of yet another Specification change that no-one asked for but which everyone got anyway.

I’m guessing you’ll not be that surprised to know the format was pretty much the same (and by “pretty much” I mean “exactly”) because it clearly worked, although by this stage I got the distinct impression that most of the production effort was being put into what the text looked like and rather less effort was being placed on the task of updating it.

While the new edition did reflect further changes to the AQA Sociology Specification – Mass Media, for example, was moved to A2 – there is actually little or no difference between the “AS Media” text of the 2nd edition and the “A2 Media” text of the 3rd edition…

If you decide to use this textbook with your students – and it does actually have a lot going for it in terms of design and presentation – you need to be aware that the level of information in some sections (looking at you, Mass Media) may be slightly lacking in terms of depth of coverage. In addition, given yet more changes to the A-level Specification, some of the areas covered in the text are no-longer present in the latest Specification and one or two newer inclusions are obviously not covered.

Having said that, I do think this is a worthwhile text to have available for your students and, given that it’s out-of-print, one of the few ways they’re ever going to be able to read it.

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Understanding Media and Culture: Free Textbook

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (to give it its full title) is a textbook, released under a Creative Commons licence by the University of Minnesota, that’s free to read, copy and share – which makes it especially useful for schools / colleges or students on a tight budget.

Under this particular licence you’re also free to adapt the work in any way you like (“remix, transform, and build upon the material”) and what this will mostly mean is that if you want to chop chapters or sections out of the textbook you’re free to distribute these in any way you like (you just can’t charge anyone for the privilege).

In terms of content, the main body of the text dates from 2010 but there has been some updating in 2016 (particularly around the impact of new technologies) which makes it pretty up-to-the-moment as far as textbooks go.

The emphasis on media and culture means that most of the text is given-over to an analysis of the cultural impact of different types of media, both old (books, newspapers, film and television) and new (video games, entertainment, the internet and social media). Each type is given their own discrete chapter which, among other things, looks at their broad development, relationship to culture and, perhaps most-interestingly, how they have been impacted by the development of new technologies.

The remaining chapters deal more generally with a range of areas: concepts of culture, media effects (there’s coverage of a range of theories dealing with direct and indirect effects), globalisation, the relationship between the media and government and a final section on the future of the mass media.

Each chapter also has its own learning objectives, brief summary and short exercises. Whether or not you find these useful is, as ever, a moot point. I’m personally not a big fan, but Publisher’s love them so we probably have to learn to live with them.

Or ignore them.

It’s your choice.

Finally, one obvious drawback, as far as UK teachers and students are concerned, is that the cultural focus is largely North American. This means that many of the chapters draw on materials and examples that will be unfamiliar to any but an American audience and UK teachers who decide to use these chapters may want to take advantage of the aforementioned editing privileges afforded by the CC license.

If you think you might be able to live with this, the textbook’s available to:

Read online
• Download in a variety of ebook formats (such as mobi and epub) or as a pdf file.

Introduction to Psychology: The Noba Collection

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

The simplest way to describe The Noba Project is that it’s a collection of free Introductory Psychology (Psychology 101) modules designed to fulfil, in the words of its creators, three main aims:

1. To reduce the financial burden on students by providing access to free educational content.
2. To provide instructors with a platform to customize educational content to better suit their curriculum.
3. To present free, high-quality material written by a collection of experts and authorities in the field of psychology.

Each module is designed as a series of standalone texts covering a particular area of psychology (Science, Development, Personality and so forth), each containing a number of different chapters. Psychology as Science, for example, covers, among many other things:

• Why Science?
• Conducting Psychology in the Real World.
• Research Design.
• Statistical Thinking.

Taken together, however, the modules are designed to replicate a complete Introductory Psychology course textbook, albeit one aimed at American undergraduates (Psychology 101). The level of these courses, however, is not dissimilar to the level found in A-level Psychology (particularly at A2).

Customisation

Aside from being both free and freely-available online, however, one really interesting feature of the site is that teachers are encouraged to take and customise the chapters in any way they want. This has obvious advantages for A-level teachers who may want to customise the basic text to meet the requirements of their own particular Specification and students. In this respect teachers may:

• Copy the text
• Paste it into Word or a favourite Desktop Publisher
• Remove unneeded text.
• Add their own text, pictures, illustrations.
• Distribute personalised chapters to their students…

This customisation aspect could prove a real boon to teachers who like to produce their own resources tailored to the requirements of their own teaching methods and students. While the Noba text serves as a time-saving basic template, all kinds of other information can be added to personalise the look, feel and content.

Print Versions

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this – or you like your students to have a physical textbook in their sweaty little hands – there’s an option to buy printed versions of the chapters or, indeed, the complete textbook. While this can get a little expensive – particularly if you’re ordering copies from outside the USA – one interesting feature is that you can customise the printed textbook by only including the chapters you teach and excluding those you don’t.

Overall, however, you decide to use the chapters available this is a potentially useful resource, either as a customised textbook or as a supplementary resource for your main psychology textbook.

More Free Sociology Texts

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

This post continues the Great Sociology Textbook Giveaway by stretching the definition of “textbook” to breaking-point with a dictionary, encyclopaedia and, in an SCTV first, an actual text published by a real UK publisher.

Following hard on the heals of the first set of textbooks comes another batch of free Sociology texts I’d like you to think I discovered by digging diligently through the detritus of an untold number of obscure web sites, but actually found by Just Googling Stuff.

This time, while there are some textbooks on offer, notably one from the UK, the net has been widened a bit to include a dictionary, encyclopaedia and a couple of texts devoted to family life and religion.

Texts

1. Sociology: 6th edition (2009): This is a slightly-ageing edition of Giddens’ long-running text, currently in its 8th edition (the latter has a website, if you’re interested, that could best be described as “satisfyingly-retro” in both design and content if you were being…errm…charitable). Despite it’s relative age, it’s still a text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may be a step too far for some a-level students, particularly at AS level, so discretion is required over how you use the text. In terms of current Specification coverage most of the usual suspects (Family, Education, Crime, Media…) are included, but so too are areas (such as Nations, War and Terrorism) that decidedly don’t need to be studied.

If you don’t fancy the pdf version there’s also an online flipbook version which is quite fun in a flipbook kind of way.
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Sociology Textbooks From Around The Web

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a free, open-source, textbook (Introduction to Sociology), the open-availability of which made me think about whether there were any other sociology books lying around in some dusty corner of the web just waiting to be found, dusted-down and presented to a wider audience.

And the answer, since you’re currently reading this post, is that clearly there was. I’ve managed to uncover 7 such texts that should be of at least some interest to a-level Sociology students and teachers. There are, however, a few things it might be useful to point out:

1. The texts I’ve listed aren’t the very latest versions in a series. While I’ve tried not to include very old editions (there’s nothing from the last century…) if you want the most up-to-date versions you’re going to have to buy them.

2. Most of the texts are from American publishers. They reflect American Sociological Specifications and preoccupations and invariably draw much of their illustrative material from American society. While this is not necessary A Bad Thing (depending, of course, on your view of Americentricity) it does mean you’re not going to find many references to non-American examples and illustrations. You’ll also find that data about areas like crime, marriage, education and so forth is pretty-much wholly-focused on North America. While this may be useful for comparative purposes you need to be careful students don’t assume such data necessarily reflects the situation in other countries around the world.

3. Following from the above, these texts are not likely to fit neatly with, for example, UK A-level Sociology Specifications. You will, however, find a lot of the content is universal: theories of crime commonly discussed in UK textbooks, for example, are also likely to be discussed in American textbooks.

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Office Online: For Free (and Quite Legal)

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

The free version of Microsoft’s Office Suite may have a reduced functionality when compared to the desktop version but for “no money” it has to be a bit of a bargain for both teachers and students.

While applications like Word and PowerPoint are probably staples of any teaching toolkit, they can be expensive, even when you take into account the various “Teachers and Students” discount versions of the Office Suite currently available: “Office Home & Student 2016 for PC”,
for example, can set you back around £90 for access to just 4 programs (Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel).

For a-level students this cost can be prohibitive, which may go some way to explaining the plethora of cheap “Word” clones on the market and the popularity of free online apps like Google Docs.

Another problem if, like me, you prefer to use desktop versions of these apps, is their lack of portability. If you want to move your work freely and easily across different platforms it’s a real pain because you don’t have access to online versions of programs like Word or PowerPoint.

Microsoft’s “solution” is Office 365 – the online version of their Office Suite. Once again, however, this is expensive. Office 365 Home will set you back around £80 per year for the privilege of access to the above four apps plus:

• Publisher (Microsoft’s expensive, Very Ordinary and Just-A-Little-Bit-Clunky DTP).
• Outlook (an email client that has better and cheaper (i.e. free) competitors such as Mozilla Thunderbird) and
• Access (a very good database but, be honest, how often do you use a database in your everyday teaching / learning?). (more…)

Free Resources: Napier Press

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

It’s probably fair to say that “A-level Sociology” by Webb et al is one of the best-selling textbooks for the AQA Specification and if you follow this Spec. or, more importantly perhaps, use this book the resources available on the Napier Press web site should come in handy.

If you don’t use this text the site has a range of sample pages from both the textbooks (year 1 and year 2) and the accompanying Revision Guides designed to give you a general overview of what’s on offer and maybe tempt you into a purchase.

Either way, there are still resources available that, with a bit of thought and tinkering, could be adapted for use with different texts. Whether or not you think it’s worth the effort is probably a matter of personal choice:

Schemes of work covering both Year 1 and Year 2 are probably worth a look: at the very least they give an insight into possible topic timings and learning objectives. As you’d expect, the suggested activities and resources are squarely fixed on the textbook, although there are suggestions for a few wider – mainly video – resources.

Similarly the Lesson Plans that, for some reason, begin and end with Education and Methods in Context are heavily reliant on the textbook. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, entirely-understandable, approach it doesn’t leave a great deal of scope for variety or imagination. Should you choose to ignore the content, however, they’re still a potentially useful resource as a template for lesson planning.

Alongside this there are an extensive range of ready-made student activities for Year 1 and Year 2 topics, although, like the workschemes / lesson plans they’re all quite similar in scope and format (read some text, watch a bit of video, answer the questions…). There are some, however, that break this format to provide more-innovative activities.

Finally, the site offers a number of workbooks, again divided into Year 1 and Year 2 topics. These are strictly tied to the text, which is great if it’s the one you’re using, but even if you’re not there’s plenty here to inspire – by which, of course, I mean steal and adapt – if you’re into the whole Workbook thing.

11 | The Research Process: Part 4

Monday, September 25th, 2017

The final part of the Research Methods chapter covers the use of mixed methods in the context of sociological research and is split into three theoretically-discrete, but related, areas:

1. Methodological pluralism involves the idea of combining methodologies, methods and data types to arrive at a more-rounded, reliable and valid insight into social behaviour.

2. Types of Triangulation outlines how researchers can use different types of triangulation – specifically, methodological, researcher and data – as a practical way of improving research reliability and validity.

3. The final section look at a range of Practical. Ethical and Theoretical research considerations and how these relate to both choice of topic and method.

Although the chapter relates directly to the OCR Specification there should still be plenty here for teachers and students following other Specifications.

9 | The Research Process: Part 2

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The focus here is quantitative data and research, with the free chapter split into three discrete, but necessarily related, parts.

The first part outlines a selection of primary quantitative research methods (questionnaires, structured interviews and content analysis) and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses.

The second part does something similar for secondary quantitative methods (official and non-official statistics).

The final part turns the focus onto quantitative research methodology with an overview and analysis of positivist approaches. In addition to identifying and explaining some of the main features of this approach the link with research design in the first chapter is maintained through an overview of a classic positivist design: Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive model of scientific research.

As with previous chapters printer’s marks are visible and some chucklehead at the publisher has added some obvious pictures and even-more-obvious captions…

6 | Families and Households: Part 3

Monday, September 11th, 2017

After the raw, enervating, excitement of Family Trends and the Role of Family in Society, the rollercoaster ride that is Family Life continues with the unalloyed joy that is Family Diversity.

While some commentators (who shall remain nameless because I haven’t named them) have described family diversity as a “thrill-a-minute fun-fest filled with fantastic fripperies”, more controversially, other, equally nameless, commentators have described it as being as dull as the rest of the family stuff. But I couldn’t possibly comment on this.

What I do know is that the chapter is filled with a range of diversity-related stuff (hence its name. Probably). This includes:

• Organisational diversity
• Class diversity
• Cultural diversity (age, gender, ethnicity)
• Sexual diversity (don’t get your hopes up, nothing to see here).

Things start to get a little more interesting (a term I use advisedly) when the chapter turns to look at two opposing views on contemporary family diversity (Postmodernist and New Right if you’re still reading this) but then things take a turn for the worse when the chapter ends with social policy.

Still, it’s free. So you can’t complain.

No, really.

Just Enjoy!

GCSE Psychology: How is non-verbal behaviour explained?

Monday, September 4th, 2017

FFree Chapter to downloadree chapter on non-verbal behaviour from OUP’s AQA GCSE Psychology 2nd Edition that outlines:

• Darwin’s evolutionary theory of non-verbal communication
• Is non-verbal behaviour innate?
• Is non-verbal behaviour learned?
• Yuki’s emoticons study (2007)

The Oxford Education Blog is also worth a visit – a very useful resource for A-level and GCSE Psychology

1 | The Formation of Culture

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Around 5 years ago I published a book for the OCR Specification (don’t thank me, somebody had to) and although it’s still available if you want to buy it , it’s probably out-lived what little economic utility it once had.

I decided, therefore, it’s probably time to make it freely available to anyone who wants it, starting with Chapter 1: The Formation of Culture.

Although it was written to meet the demands of a particular Specification (one that’s since changed…) that’s not to say teachers won’t find it useful: if you’re One of The Few who follow OCR there’s plenty of information in the chapter that still applies to the latest Spec. and if you’re One of The Many who use another Specification, as a colleague of mine once said “Well, it’s all Sociology, inn’it bruv?”.

So, with that fine endorsement ringing in your ears you might be interested to know the chapter covers the following:

• Defining culture (roles, norms, values, status, etc.)
• Types of subcultures (reactive and independent)
• Cultural diversity (Inter and Intra)
• Multiculturalism
• Global culture
• High and Popular culture
• Consumer culture

Because this is a pre-publication version of the final book it doesn’t look quite like the printed version (the printer’s marks are visible and one or two pictures that made the final cut may be missing from this version) but, on the plus side, it’s free and you can make as many copies as you like to distribute to your students.

Psychology ShortCuts: Offender Profiling

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

As with its sociological sister, ShortCuts to Psychology is a new series of free films designed to clearly and concisely illustrate key ideas and concepts across a range of topics – from family, through deviance to psychological theory and methods. The films are:

  • short: between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes
  • focused on definitions, explanations and analysis
  • framed around expert sociologists in their field.

 

In this film Professor David Wilson offers up a definition of offender profiling.

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NGfL Cymru: Free eBooks

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Those helpful people at the Welsh (Cymru) National Grid for Learning produce a range of free sociology and psychology resources to support the WJEC / Eduqas exam board Specification.

For Sociology, you might find these two Sociology texts created for the new 2015 Specification particularly useful:

AS Sociology eBook

A2 Sociology eBook

Psychologists might also find it’s worth downloading the PY3 and PY4 eBooks.

These resources are available in both text and flash versions.

Psychology Review

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

This magazine, pitched at A-level Psychology students, has a long and venerable history of supplying good-quality articles and support materials designed to help students gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of both psychology and the requirements of the A-level exam.

The publishers, Hodder Education, have started to develop a strong web presence for the print magazine, part of which involves offering some nice freebies related to each issue’s content, which you can check-out here:

Sample Magazine allows you to browse a sample of Psychology review’s articles online. 

Free Resources include activities, supplementary notes, posters, podcasts and short video clips.

Psychology: A whole new set of films

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

We’re starting to release the first batch of films in our new Revising Psychology series – short, informative, videos aimed at students and teachers and designed to both consolidate learning and suggest ways to gain the best possible exam grade.

The films can be rented (48-hours) or bought (individually or in selected bundles) and can be viewed in a variety of formats – desktop, tablet and mobile.

Prevews of the following films / series are available here: (more…)