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Curriculum Encoders Group

TextBooks as Curricula

Added or modified by Paul Libbrecht on Oct-29-2009

Using TextBooks as Curricula

This page aims at sketching the methods we propose in intergeo to use a web-presentation of (parts of) textbooks for the purposes of searching for relevant material.

Objective

Intergeo is an eContentPlus EU project that started in October 2007 and joins most interactive geometry contributors of Europe. See the intergeo website for a list of objectives and participants, see its press release.

Among others, intergeo's sharing practice will use a platform where the thousands of constructions are stored and annotated and can be found back using appropriate queries. But which queries?

One way shall be plain-text queries that will match the names of competencies and topics that each construction shall be annotated with, as well as the text of resource, if need be. This first way to match already provides a multi-national matching since competencies are abstract notions which can be translated to several languages and can appear in several local curriculum standards.

Curriculum Standards to Browse

annotated-curriculum-de-seconde.png Another way shall be through the usage of curriculum standards, those pieces of texts that governments (and sometimes schools) make available to indicate the plan of the learning content and (more importantly) evaluated learning outcomes of an educational program.

For this we are currently hunting for HTML versions of the curriculum standards and are annotating them with links to the competencies that we have encoded in our ontology. Thus a click on such a link will trigger a query for the competencies or topics on the back of these sentences.

The picture on the right presents the curriculum standard of Lycée Seconde which is enriched with links to the GeoSkills ontology.

Textbooks instead of Curriculum Standards

But one asks around, the curriculum standards are not the most beloved pieces of texts a teacher likes to look at, for many diverse reasons. This task, however, has been taken over by textbook publishers: a textbook is generally published with the precise scope of an educational programme. Covering the textbook, for a classroom, comes close to covering the curriculum standards' materials.

Similarly to offering curriculum standards to be browsed on the web to select the competencies and topics, we wish to present some of the pages of the textbooks on the web in a way that visually resembles much the textbook itself and we wish to let the users click on parts of these pages to indicate the competencies and topics they are looking interactive geometry material for.

Within textbooks, the table-of-contents is certainly an appealing document to take, each line there refers to (sometimes many) topics and competencies. Also, within some textbooks, the summary pages, recalling the main fact of lessons, are very good handles to the topics and competencies.

Why Would Publishers Lend a Copy?

There are arguments against allowing us to reproduce such a document, those are the ones around the fear for copyright infringements and are similar to the fear for electronic-books or even web-based previews.

Arguments in favour are multiple however:

  • the textbook is visible within a place expectedly visited by many teachers
  • the textbook used by many users already gains another utility, that of offering supplementary interactive geometry material
  • the textbook contents known by its users is reproduced to allow them to rapidly identify (with a single eyebrowse) the topics they wish interactive geometry material about
Recently, classzone.com was launched (see the Math-Forum announce of classzone.com) as a private initiative of a publisher to link to individual chapters of his widely-used textbooks relevant interactive resources. Classzone.com is a publisher endorsed service whereas Intergeo proposes itself to be a neutral service leveraging the community effort to annotate interactive geometry material. Textbooks do not need to be provided before an interactive geometry resource is contributed, only the competencies which they should share need to pre-exist.

Concretely

Technically, we expect to find browsable documents that we can present to users as a handle to the topics and competencies of GeoSkills.

We shall soon go knock at the door of publishers and ask them if this is thinkable, under what license and what format we could be publishing the parts of their textbooks. Users, once logged in, will be able to identify the textbooks they work with, so they they will be able to choose the topics using the table-of-contents or text-books that they know.

Once the documents are transmitted and the authorizations are cleared, the curriculum annotation work then needs to be made: by a voluntary user, by the publishers, or by members of the Intergeo project. This work consists in linking the applicable parts of the textbook extracts to competencies in the GeoSkills ontology.

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Applicable Formats

The textbooks extracts should:

  • be easy to browse and searchable
  • be recognizable by the users of the textbook as being the same work and the same place of the work
  • integrate into web delivery (so a Word document does not work)
  • allow clicks on individual zones to trigger javascript calls that would insert the query for the competencies linked to the zones
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