Book recommendations for educators

Part I

Here are a few books that I recommend for educators; they are books that have positively shaped my own practice and encouraged me to reflect, innovate and stick my head above the parapet.

Advances in Cognitive Load Theory: Rethinking Teaching – Edited by Sharon Tindall-Ford, Shirley Agostinho, and John Sweller

Cognitive load theory uses our knowledge of how people learn, think and solve problems to design instruction. In turn, instructional design is the central activity of classroom teachers, of curriculum designers, and of publishers of textbooks and educational materials, including digital information. Characteristically, the theory is used to generate hypotheses that are tested using randomised controlled trials. Cognitive load theory rests on a base of hundreds of randomised controlled trials testing many thousands of primary and secondary school children as well as adults.


The Good University: What universities actually do and why it’s time for radical change by Raewyn Connell

The higher education industry might seem like it’s booming, with over 200 million students in universities and colleges worldwide and funds flowing in like never before. But the truth is that these institutions have never been unhappier places to work. Corporate-style management, cost-cutting governments, mobilisations by angry students and strikes by disgruntled staff have all taken their toll — in almost every country around the world. It’s no wonder that there is talk of ‘universities in crisis.’

But what should a good university look like? In this inspiring new work, Raewyn Connell asks us to consider just that, challenging us to rethink the fundamentals of what universities do. Drawing on the examples offered by pioneering universities and educational reformers around the world, Connell outlines a practical vision for how our universities can become both more engaging and more productive places, driven by social good rather than profit, and helping to build fairer societies.


The Manifesto for Teaching Online by Siân Bayne, Peter Evans, Rory Ewins, Jeremy Knox, James Lamb, Hamish Macleod, Clara O’Shea, Jen Ross, Philippa Sheail and Christine Sinclair

The Manifesto for Teaching Online is a series of provocative statements intended to articulate the authors’ pedagogical philosophy. The authors counter both the “impoverished” vision of education being advanced by corporate and governmental edtech and higher education’s traditional view of online students and teachers as second-class citizens.


Re-imagining University Assessment in a Digital World – Edited by Margaret Bearman, Phillip Dawson, Rola Ajjawi, Joanna Tai, and David Boud

This book is the first to explore the big question of how assessment can be refreshed and redesigned in an evolving digital landscape. There are many exciting possibilities for assessments that contribute dynamically to learning. However, the interface between assessment and technology is limited. Often, assessment designers do not take advantage of digital opportunities. Equally, digital innovators sometimes draw from models of higher education assessment that are no longer best practice. This gap in thinking presents an opportunity to consider how technology might best contribute to mainstream assessment practice.


Teaching to Transgress
Education as the Practice of Freedom
by bell hooks

hooks – writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual – writes about a new kind of education, education as the practice of freedom.  Teaching students to “transgress” against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher’s most important goal.

hooks speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do about teachers who do not want to teach, and students who do not want to learn? How should we deal with racism and sexism in the classroom?

Full of passion and politics, Teaching to Transgress combines a practical knowledge of the classroom with a deeply felt connection to the world of emotions and feelings.  This is the rare book about teachers and students that dares to raise questions about eros and rage, grief and reconciliation, and the future of teaching itself.


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