Carson-Newman Prof to Develop Own Online Textbooks

Dr. Mary Baldridge, associate professor of Spanish

Dr. Mary Baldridge, associate professor of Spanish

When the price of textbooks rise and usability decreases, one Carson-Newman professor responds by creating her own.

Carson-Newman Associate Professor of Spanish, Dr. Mary Baldridge, was awarded a $6,000 ACA summer research fellowship, which she will use toward creating Online Spanish textbooks.

“The textbooks currently on the market are exorbitantly expensive, and are not really appropriate for the new curriculum that we are developing in Spanish,” said Baldridge, who serves as chair of C-N’s Philosophy, Linguistics, and World Languages Department.

Baldridge said there is a shift in foreign language education to online material, which means textbooks and their accompanying online material can cost students anywhere up to $200.

Currently, students use textbooks costing roughly $150 to $160 over two semesters. This equates to about $80 a semester.

Baldridge hopes to keep the cost of her textbook to about $30 a semester.

One option Baldridge is considering for publication is an e-book that could be read on a Kindle or computer and completely eliminate printing costs.

Also, there is a shift in the curriculum from focusing almost solely on Spanish grammar to learning about Hispanic cultures in the U.S.

“The focus of the text materials that I’m working on (and of our new curriculum in general) will be more on the content rather than the language; the language itself will be used to learn the information and to learn how to communicate with that group of our population,” Baldridge said.

“The idea is to have students learn how to use the language for a specific purpose, rather than having them learn grammar rules that seem disconnected from real-world application.”

The online textbooks will be for Spanish 101-202 courses.

Baldridge is currently working on gathering content and the first pilot test will be during the Fall 2013 Spanish 101 course.

Online textbooks for 102, 201, and 202 will be released during the following Spring and Fall semesters during 2014 and 2015.