Friday, January 7, 2011

York students create online textbook

York School

Schools around the globe are shifting to online textbooks, but York School’s advanced placement psychology class is taking it to a whole new level.

For the second year in a row, the class is creating its own online textbook.

Using Wikispaces, a national online service, class members actually write their own chapters on subjects that interest them and pertain to psychology, from consciousness to drug addiction.

Students spend months compiling information, organizing their writings, and collecting videos, pictures, and audio clips to enhance their chapter. A “finished” section will contain more than 2,000 words and several web pages.

But, in this process, there is no such thing as a finished product.

“This is designed to be a constant work in progress,” said Cammy Torgenrud, who teaches the class. “We’ll be adding and deleting and updating content every year.”

In her introduction on the site, Torgenrud notes that the use of images and videos “helps bring psychological concepts to life,” but with a “distinctly ‘Yorkie’ perspective.”

Because the site is public, precautions not to infringe on proprietary interests have been taken. Each work includes citations, links and sources pages. Student-authors work carefully to negotiate the gray area of copyright law.

“It’s a good way to learn a new technology while learning about psychology,” said student Jordan Fernandez.

The project, in its second year, is already developing a legacy. Students are encouraged to examine chapters written by previous classes.

Hussein Elbakri, a senior, said reading student-written material is “more engaging,” and it “removes some of the customary fluff in textbooks, replacing it with relevant, modern examples.”

York’s online textbook may be viewed at:

Monterey County Herald, 1/7/11, Page A2.