My perfect learning resource

Hi there, Ollie here. Today on the SAGE Blog I’ll be discussing my opinion of what the perfect learning resource would look like.

First of all, let’s discuss digital vs print. In my degree, I mostly use books (rather than eBooks) because most of our textbooks are only available in print. I actually really like eBooks, since you can do everything (and more) with an eBook that you could with a normal book: bookmark your place, quickly flip between sections, highlight and even copy and paste the text (this feature alone makes me much more likely to make notes when using an eBook than a book because I write notes on my computer.) Other things I like about eBooks are their portability, environmental-friendliness and comparatively lower cost. However, I’d rather stare at a book for hours than a screen, as books are easier on the eyes. Also, I like having the ability to unplug from the computer and focus completely on a book, as it offers less opportunity for distraction, since the Internet is no longer at my fingertips. Both these problems would be solved with an eInk device like a Kindle, which I don’t own, but I think an eInk device with your textbooks on it would potentially be great. When it comes to hardback vs paperback, I prefer hardback because you can put them on the shelf vertically, whereas paperbacks of the enormous textbook variety collapse.

If there’s one thing my perfect resource would have lots of, it would be bullet points. Summarising each topic and sub-topic with bullet points helps to mentally organise the information, giving you a big-picture understanding. I’m also a fan of mind-maps, which basically does the same thing but in a more visual form. I think either (or both) forms of summary should be at the beginning of chapters rather than at the end, so you have a big-picture understanding before taking a deep dive into the chapters. Something I don’t like in resources is when they ask end-of-chapter questions and don’t provide answers. I’d like resources to have corresponding online exercises in which you can get instant feedback on your answers.

Another online format I’d like to see more of is video because it’s so visually engaging. In particular, I think it’s a great format to show case studies because it allows you to see and hear the details of real-world examples in action, rather than imagining them.

Furthermore, I think clear and labelled diagrams are fantastic for visualising structures. Not just physical structures (like the brain), but also concepts (like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

In print books I wouldn’t want extra room in the margin to write notes because I hope to sell my books at the end of my course, so I try to keep them in decent condition. Therefore, extra room around the margin just means less room in my bag.

Finally, I’d like there to be more audiobook versions that you can listen to whilst doing other things. This would open up new opportunities to study when you’re doing mundane things like commuting and would allow yourself to become more immersed in your subject.

Obviously, I’d like the price of this to be as low as possible, and although an eBook with an accompanying online quiz and audiobook is multi-faceted, the marginal cost should be almost zero because it would all be online. Therefore, I’d hope the price would be closer to £20 than £50.

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