It seems so “yesterday” to use a physical textbook such as in a Spanish classroom. Any instructor can easily find PowerPoints, Youtubes, etc. that teach and practice the grammar and vocabulary in Spanish. Any instructor can easily find online sites that explain grammar and drill that grammar. An instructor can find Internet sites that have vocabulary lists or can easily post such lists to a class wiki. Imagine if a department asked each instructor to create one activity such as a spoken conversation or a listening comprehension that takes the grammar and vocabulary to the level of communication. The instructors can find current pictures of the culture from Flickr and other sources. Students can converse about the daily culture that relates to the situations in the virtual textbook. Students can communicate about the situations.
With a few handouts made in Google docs and the links to the grammar, vocabulary, communication activities, listening, reading,writing, and culture, the instructors could run a whole course without a physical textbook. All the resources can exist in the class wiki. Students can have access to theses resources 24/7. Since the resources come from various sources, there is more of widening of the students’ learning. When instructors use virtual textbooks, they can add more resources in areas where students demonstrate weaknesses (formative assessment).
In addition, students can contribute to the virtual textbook. As they do activities such as writing five important questions about the situation, these questions can be posted to the virtual textbook for other students to answer. I believe that within a year, instructors could have a virtual textbook that outshines the limits of the physical textbook. I have used a virtual text and feel that it best meets the needs of my students. The virtual textbook can fit the specific goals of the instructors while meeting national goals. The virtual textbook can be easily modified as better resources become available.
The virtual textbooks will not cost any money! Also as students migrate to smartphones, their phones become a valuable learning tool in class.
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.
Also, my book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.