I’d like to start with a quick introduction. My name is Roman Lysecky. By day (and often nights and weekends) I’m an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. I am also a co-author of the Programming in C, Programming in Java, and Programming in C++ zyBooks, as well as the co-lead of authoring for zyBooks.com. As an author, I’d like to discuss the role of feedback in authoring content for zyBooks.
First off, a big “Thank You!” to all of the students and instructors who have already provided feedback, comments, and bug reports. Your input has been awesome and has helped to make our zyBooks even better.
When writing, I put a lot of effort into trying to clearly describe concepts, create animations that teach those concepts effectively, and write question sets to teach and reinforce. I often draw upon my experience teaching, in particular the questions and feedback from students in lectures, labs, and office hours. But, that only represents a small number of students and instructors using zyBooks. zyBooks enable feedback across all classes using the material to reach the authors directly.
The zyBooks approach uses curated crowdsourcing, which balances the scale achieved by crowdsourcing with centralized authoring and editing to ensure high quality. And, zyBooks make providing feedback easy! All of the animations, question sets, tools, etc. have a feedback button. Clicking the feedback button provides a simple form for rating the activity, adding comments, and indicating if your comment describes a bug in the material.
So, what happens when you submit feedback? If the feedback described a simple bug, such as a typo, zyBooks’ staff often fix and correct the bug immediately. Feedback that includes comments for improving the material are forwarded to the authors. We continually improve and revise the content based on this feedback. Over the past two years, we have added dozens of new animations and question sets, revised sections and code examples, and even added new sections all in response to the feedback we receive. We also regularly review the ratings provided for activities to identify activities that we can make even better.
Students, you are the ones learning using zyBooks. If the text, animations, question sets, or tools are not helping you learn, let us know. We’d also love to know if activities led to an “Aha!” moment where everything clicked.
Instructors, the insight you can provide on how well your students are learning is tremendous. The questions your students ask in lecture, labs, and office hours and their performance on specific topics can help determine those topics with which they are struggling the most. We’d love to hear your insight on the topics your students are struggling with the most and the topics on which they excel.
So, please keep it coming!