Every student on our copywriting course gets a copy of the Copywriting Apprentice textbook as well as access to our online learning management system (LMS). But as e-learning grows in popularity, I wonder whether the huge benefits of textbook learning will soon become a thing of the past.
Our students are sent a questionnaire after they have completed the first block in the syllabus. One of the questions we ask is about their study habits, and do they prefer to work online, from the textbook or if they combine the two. Interestingly, about 65% of those polled say they prefer to work from a textbook, but 100% said they use a combination of both.
Personally, I don’t think there is any substitute for book learning, but is that just because it’s the way people of my generation were taught? Will future generations be deprived of traditional learning methods and never know the delights of holding a proper book in their hands?
So far, it seems there has been little research into which is the most effective method of learning. E-learning is still in its infancy, of course. However, Kate Garland, a psychology lecturer at the University of Leicester, has made a study of this very subject.
Participants in her research were given a crash course in economics. Nobody taking part had any prior knowledge of the subject. She found e-book learning called for more repetition before the information was retained. Those studying from the traditional book had a considerably better grasp of the subject.
It’s my belief there is nothing quite like a good old fashioned book. A book doesn’t run out of charge just when you reach a critical point. Books aren’t affected by sun shining on the page. You can read a book anywhere. Books are forever. With online courses, you cease to have access to the material when you have completed your training. You can’t pop an online course on your bookshelf to refer back to at a later date!
When the Copywriting Apprentice course was being developed, a great deal of thought went into the design of the textbook. Not only must it enhance the student’s learning, it also had to be user-friendly. Big, chunky folders are heavy, difficult to handle and store, and take up a lot of space. Instead, the CA copywriting course’s print version is a professionally printed textbook about the size of the popular ‘Dummies’ books. This means it fits on a bookshelf, can be carried in a bag or briefcase with ease, and can even be read comfortably in bed.
One of the biggest benefits of e-learning is the ease of updating the material, which must surely be a reason for the surge in the number of online courses available. E-learning is becoming increasingly interactive. There is the opportunity to add other multi-media resources, such as podcasts and video. But while these enhance the learning experience, we don’t believe they will ever be an effective substitute for traditional book learning. We embrace the benefits of technology and can boast a very comprehensive LMS. We recognise both the benefits and shortcomings of e-learning, though. This is why every Copywriting Apprentice student receives a textbook as standard, instead of it being an add-on at additional cost.
Perhaps the decline in the popularity of textbooks can be attributed to the problems associated with updating the material. It takes considerably more time and commitment, not to mention the costs involved, to update a printed book than it does to change an online course. This is why some copywriting courses are dated. If a textbook is only updated every few years, the course can’t hope to keep pace with today’s dynamic world.
Here at the Copywriting Apprentice, we review and update both the online versions of the copywriting course and the textbook every six months. Yes, it’s a big undertaking, but essential if we are to keep the course material up-to-date and deliver the best possible learning experience.
With this level of commitment, you will see we have absolutely no plans to do away with our textbook. It would be over my dead body!
Blog post by Joy McCarthy
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