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Posts Tagged ‘free’

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 as text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may, however, 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