Guest Contributor: Reggie Cobb, Nash Community College.

In the past, students used textbooks as their primary resource, as they provide more detailed information used for better understanding of course content. However, with recent advances in technology, learning content is now being delivered via presentation documents, videos, and animations. This instant availability has allowed students to push textbooks aside, using them infrequently and as secondary resources.

The challenge with my students at Nash Community College is to get them to actually use their textbooks and use them effectively. To address this challenge, I use a combination of textbook material and the integration of presentations, videos, animations, and learning activities within specific areas of e-text to promote a higher level of comprehension and learning.

For these newer supplemental activities, I utilize Cengage Learning’s online learning program, MindTap. It allows me to embed links to video lectures, content-specific YouTube videos, and online learning activities provided with the textbook. With MindTap, my students can view a personal introductory or current event video within the e-text before beginning a chapter to help relate content to their everyday lives. While other learning management systems allow instructors to add links to similar activities and content, integrating the links directly within the e-text limits distractions and helps students stay focused on learning course content.

By adding a short introductory video on the title page of the chapter, I can provide an overview of what they need to focus on and know they are interacting directly with the textbook content. I can also provide links to YouTube videos of other instructors explaining a difficult concept following the information discussed in the e-text. For example, I can say, “If you are having difficulties with understanding mitosis, please review this video of Paul Andersen of BozemanScience explaining the stages of mitosis.”

All instructors, campus-based and online, can benefit from the use of MindTap’s features to divide information into manageable chunks and promote an effective learning experience.

Availability of online resources to help supplement course content is beneficial, but textbooks continue to provide greater information to increase knowledge of course content. If we want our students to have a better understanding of concepts, online resources and activities must be integrated in the textbook. The use of MindTap to do so has generated positive responses from students in my traditional and online classes, and learning has been greatly enhanced.

Reggie Cobb is a biology instructor at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC, where he teaches non-majors and majors biology, environmental biology, and other freshman/sophomore elective biology courses. As an on campus, online, and virtual instructor since 2000, he incorporates technology in both on and off campus courses. Reggie received his B.S. in Biology and MAEd in Science Education from East Carolina University. With educational backgrounds in both biology and science education, he continually updates teaching methods to best facilitate student learning of the biological concepts. With his passion for teaching biology and incorporating technology, Reggie continually assists colleagues and other educators (K-higher education) find resources and technology that promote student learning. Reggie also serves as a Technology Power User of Cengage Learning’s MindTap.


What strategies do you use to encourage students to read their textbooks? Share your ideas in the comments.