When we were approached by Oxford University Press to create a book about language development, we were given some clear directives about what it needed to be: interprofessional (for linguists, educators and speech-language pathologists), locally relevant (for an Australian and New Zealand audience) and useful (for students, lecturers prescribing it as a text and for professionals). So we set about developing a book that we would use as professionals, teachers, and online learners.
We invited contributions from authors with backgrounds in education, linguistics and speech pathology from around Australia to ensure the text was interprofessional. Most of these authors had worked in the field and their knowledge and experience of the Australian context ensured their chapters would be relevant to our prospective audience. Then we did something a little unusual, we asked them to think about the kinds of case studies they wished they had easy access to, those that would be useful to show in classes and lectures to enhance their teaching and improve student learning and retention.
We knew from our experience that real world examples are the key to explaining concepts and demonstrating ideas. But, rather than creating imagined, one dimensional (paper based) case studies as supplementary resources to aid understanding, we wanted to utilise real, dynamic, engaging children and adults. We wanted our case studies to be easily and immediately accessible to staff to frame their teaching, and to students to inform their learning. We used suggestions from the chapter authors to plan our case studies and then invited children, students, and adults to participate in filming for the book. Ten videos were created and made available online. Chapter authors were then invited to select the video content that was most useful for them to illustrate their chapter content, and to write these case studies into their chapter. Supplementary materials (e.g., transcripts of the videos, look and learn activities) were also developed to aid lecturers in planning curriculum design and content. We even used a photograph of one of our 2-year-old video stars on the front cover.
The result is a text that is undeniably Australian (the accents give it away!) and authentic. It is available as an interactive ebook with access to the videos, live links to resources and additional online activities. Students can access the materials independently, but have reflective questions to guide their study. Lecturers can use the videos and online activities in their teaching or set tasks for students to do in their own time. The book is intended to meet the needs of the new breed of learners and the lecturers who teach them. We hope it does just that.
Jane McCormack, PhD
University of Sheffield, March 2016
Jane is a speech pathologist with experience in early intervention and education. Jane is the co-editor of Introduction to speech, language and literacy (2015) with Sharynne McLeod.
McLeod, S. & McCormack, J. (Eds.) (2015). Introduction to speech, language and literacy. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. (ISBN: 9780195527926)