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blendedlearning's picture

BioBook is a Next Generation Learning Challenge project out of Wake Forest University, where professors sought to reformulate the intro-level biology textbooks into something that students could understand - and would actually use.

Profiles of Next Generation Learning: Biobook from NextGenLC (NGLC) on Vimeo.

As the profile explains, BioBook redesigned the textbook from the ground up, starting with the structure of the book itself. Instead of following a linear structure it uses a node-based structure aligned - apropriately enough - to a tree, with the roots representing unifying principles, the branches representing related groups of ideas emerging from the core principles, and the leaves representing specific ideas like pages in a traditional textbook. Instead of trying to read from cover to cover, students can follow the thread of an idea or concept, working in the order in which they understand rather than the order the textbook publisher printed the book.

One of BioBook's most promising features is its built-in, informal self-assessment system. Each leaf is titled with a question, and when students arrive at the end of the leaf they should be able to answer the question. If they can do so confidently, than the student knows it's time to move on. The makers of BioBook are making as much use of open source multimedia as possible, which conveys two benefits: first, the resulting "book" will be far more interactive and multimedia than a standard biology textbook. Second, since so much of the content has been culled from open sources, the creators hope that the resulting book will be much less expensive to users.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind - one of BioBook's core ideas is to cut down on information which its creators have deemed burdensome or unnecessary. In order to do so, they have "condensed" the information to make it more accesible to students and, in theory, less overwhelming for them. As a result, the information offered may be - in fact, probably is - less comprehensive and in-depth than what you get with a traditional biology textbook.


Types of OER:
  • Audiovisual
  • Complete Modules

  • Biology