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Summer Reading List 2012 – Online Learning Edition

What's on your reading list? Last week's #IOLchat included a brainstorming session of low- and no- cost professional development opportunities for online instructors. One of the ideas that emerged was to develop a reading list of relevant materials. If you are like me, you are probably always adding titles, but rarely have time to get the reading done.

Summer reading lists are not new, but this one has a specific focus and relevance to online learning professionals. With so many new trends in online education, adding just a few items to your summer agenda may help you prepare for your next academic term.

7 Suggestions from eLearning Professionals

Here is a closer look at the recommendations of our chat participants, as well as a few additional titles worthy of your consideration:

  1. The Art of Game Design  by Jesse Schell: Betty Ray, senior blog editor and community manager of Edutopia has this one on her summer list. The book's website includes additional resources for educators interested in designing games for their courses, and describes the approach of integrating perspectives from the fields of psychology, visual design, software engineering, puzzle design, anthropology, and more.
  2. Beyond Bullet Points  by Cliff Atkinson: Are you interested in "using Microsoft PowerPoint to create presentations that inform, motivate, and inspire" students in your online courses? This book is included on a list of summer reading from the HRD Online Training Blog. The HRD post also links to a longer reading list from eLearning author Tom Kuhlmann.
  3. The Digital Divide by Mark Bauerlein: This collection of essays from thought leaders in education addresses some of the benefits and challenges of our increasing use of technology in various forms including social media. Bauerlein's focus is on helping us "make more informed decisions about the presence and place of technology in our lives" and potentially our work with students. 
  4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: How do habits form and how can we change them? Duhigg explores the power of habits in our lives. Reviewed recently in Psychology Todayand recommended by a chat participant, this one might be helpful in the context of education and the need to develop positive habits for online teaching and learning.
  5. Say This, NOT That to Your Professor  by Ellen Bremen: Do you find that your students have trouble communicating with you in a professional and helpful way? This book provides advice for students to help them improve relationships with their instructors. The approach may also provide you with insight about some of the challenges your students are facing. I recently added this one to my reading list and will review it in an upcoming post.
  6. Social Media for Educators by Tanya Joosten: Another suggestion from our #IOLchat session, Joosten challenges readers to "tap into the power of social media and increase course effectiveness." She tackles tool selection with a focus on learning objectives and student engagement. Google Books provides a brief preview.
  7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio: This children's book was suggested by our chat group and diversifies our list a bit. The main character, Auggie, is a 5th grader with a severe facial deformity who is getting ready to enter a mainstream school. How many of our students are "trying to fit in" and how can we support them in becoming part of the learning community? A recent review in The New York Times notes that while "stories about unusual children who long to fit in can be particularly wrenching … Palacio gives Auggie a counterweight to his problems … leaving us with the impression that [his] problems are surmountable in all the ways that count."

All of the items listed above are books, but you don't have to limit your reading list to this format. Blogs and other online publications have a lot to offer in terms of professional development. If you don't already have a subscription system or blog reader set up, you'll find some tips and suggestions in a previous post titled Follow These Blogs! If your summer plans involve travel, load up your tablet or other portable device with digital content and take your professional development on the road. 

What are your students reading?

Do your students have a summer reading list? Check out The New York Times 3rd Annual Summer Reading Contest. Open to students ages 13 to 25 the goal is to encourage nonfiction reading. Participants respond to the question "What interested you most in The Times this week" by commenting on The Learning Network blog. Weekly winners will be announced from June 15th to August 17th. Additional details about the rules and guidelines for instructors are posted online.

What are you reading?

Please share your recommendations with our readers here! We'd love to see this list grow with additional suggestions for your online peers and colleagues.

Image credit: katerha, Flickr, CC-BY