There’s been a lot of chat recently on coursebooks both positive and negative. Also a lot of people have mentioned alternatives to current coursebook models, especially Jason Renshaw at his englishraven blog (a great blog and possibly the most energetic poster in efl/esl!!). Jason suggested inserts to coursebooks, sort of blank pages for students to write in and make notes etc. he has also talked about handing out blank notebooks and having students ‘write’ their own coursebooks as the lessons progress.
My idea is a little different and is almost certainly not original (if you know anyone who has written about this or done it then let me know).
Basically a publisher acts as a repository for coursebook material, anything from short lessons, warmers, exercises up to entire units. These are submitted by materials writers and teachers and uploaded and edited for format etc.
School or teacher A then logs on and selects the material that they want to have in their school based on their knowledge of local culture, needs, curricula, interests, age etc. Space could also be made available for blank pages (note-taking), short tests or any other custom inserts.
The selected units are then put together as a coursebook and then either printed and delivered at cost X (options here could include paper quality, b/w or colour, jacket or none etc.) or delivered as a pdf for cost y to be printed at the school.
This way schools/teachers have better control over their coursebook design and content (those that are happy to have taboo subjects can and vice-versa etc.) and can return to alter it as they wish for the cost of replaced units/lessons etc.
Contributors could be paid per selection and print run so the better/more popular your material the better you are paid and you wouldn’t have to produce an entire book to get published. Publishers could stop having to produce bland one size fits all coursebooks.
It’s just an idea, what do you think? Anyone doing it/likely to do it or could this be an idea for a grass-roots publishing/print-on-demand company run by teachers? As always, would love to hear from you…