Checking out Internet Books for Educators

Article excerpt

The current excite Internet has spurred a new demand for books, manuals, and references to help clarify the arcana of the 'Net. Many valuable how-to resources are available online, but for those who relish the physicality of a book - where it's easy to underline sentences, write margin notes, or dog-ear pages - bookstores are bursting with titles, some written specifically for educators.

But with so much choice, how can you find the most useful books? This month I'll tackle this question, offering guidelines for evaluating books, resources online for exploring titles, and recommendations for three books that succeed at helping educators make the most of the Internet.

Needed: Combined Talents

Writing a meaningful Internet book focused on teaching and learning is a formidable task. The writer needs expertise in classroom teaching and curriculum, an understanding of telecommunications technology for educational applications, and the ability to communicate clearly - a rare combination of talents.

For this reason, it's important to take a hard look at books before you buy. Using your teacher's eye, evaluate content in terms of the educational value of suggested activities, the quality of supporting materials such as lesson plans and curriculum outlines, and the author's sensitivity to the realities of the classroom. Another important consideration is the relevance and accuracy of Internet addresses. Jot down a few and try them out. Internet addresses change frequently, but if several from one book are out of date, it can indicate a lack of thoroughness on the part of the author or editor. Book reviews and testimonials from trusted colleagues will also help you judge a book's quality. And don't forget Internet-based discussion groups and Usenet newsgroups, where you'll find plenty of opinions and ideas.

Browsing for Books Online

If you want to use technology to locate titles, Bookwire (http://www.bookwire.com) is a great starting point. While the site's orientation is toward general interest readers, you'll find indices of publishers (with links to their Web sites), book reviews from a variety of sources, hotlists of book-related sites (including children's titles), and links to discussion groups and online texts.

For a more comprehensive set of online texts, including Internet reference works, visit The On-line Books Page (http://www.cs. …