Carson-Newman associate professor of Spanish Mary Baldridge was awarded a $6,000 American College Association summer research fellowship, which she will use to create 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,” Baldridge said.
She also 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 up to $200.
Currently, C-N students use textbooks costing roughly $150 to $160 over two semesters.
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 an e-reader or computer and would completely eliminate printing costs.
There is also a shift in her curriculum from focusing mainly on Spanish grammar to learning about Hispanic cultures in the United States.
“The focus of the text materials that I’m working on … 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,” she explained.
The online textbooks will be for Spanish 101 and Spanish 202 courses.
Baldridge is currently gathering content, and the first pilot test will take place during the fall 2013 Spanish 101 course. Online textbooks for Spanish 102, 201 and 202 will be released during the following spring and fall semesters during 2014 and 2015.