Jay Mathews’s recent column in the Washington Post, “Most Textbooks Should Just Stay on the Shelf,” elicits opinions from educators and publishers on the continued relevance of the traditional textbook. He ultimately concludes that “like the newspapers that have been my life, textbooks are creeping slowly toward obsolescence,” with a variety of new media such as podcasts and electronic books gaining prominence.
The good news for educators looking to introduce engaging documents and media into instruction is the flood of free and fascinating material being made available online. Google has begun adding cover-to-cover magazine archives to their Book Search; this effort now includes such titles as Popular Science, New York Magazine, and Ebony.
Another excellent resource I recently discovered is an extensive (though not complete) archive of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” to the nation, from between 1933 and 1945. The chats can be streamed and downloaded from the Internet Archive. These are especially intriguing in light of President-elect Obama’s now giving weekly addresses to the nation via YouTube, as he faces international and financial challenges that invite comparison to those during FDR’s tenure.
Which online documents have engaged your students?