A professor at Concordia University-Wisconsin writes his own course packets and materials to create horizontal learning in his classes.
Dr. Daniel Paavola teaches 11 different theology courses at the university, each containing their own course materials. He is also an active writer for other outside organizations such as the Concordia Publishing House. In 2009, he was an associate editor of the Lutheran Study Bible.
When Dr. Paavola first began teaching at CUW, he inherited a small textbook from the professor before him.
“I started by writing my own materials for the first class and [then] wrote more for the others to come,” Dr. Paavola said.
Almost all of his courses also require a Lutheran Study Bible, but the course packets are Dr. Paavola’s way to get the class to talk and share ideas and questions. Dr. Paavola’s course materials are available at the university’s bookstore where they are also published.
He also knows that the price of textbooks can be overwhelming for students; Dr. Paavola said the response of purchasing a course packet ($10-$20) is generally a relief because it is inexpensive compared to many other required course materials.
Many universities have been transitioning to e-learning materials and university bookstores are slowly going out of business. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin signed a five-year contract with a virtual bookstore due to a $1.7 million drop in textbook and course material sales.
“[If/when Concordia University-Wisconsin introduces all digital media] I could post it on blackboard as a PDF,” he said.
With the PDF versions of each course materials, editing becomes an easier process. When Dr. Paavola finds a mistake or updates his materials, he makes the changes and then sends it back to the bookstore for editing.
“I probably update them about every five years—on a cycle. I get new ideas to add to the packets. Always finding a new way to make something work,” he said.
Dr. Paavola is currently writing a book about the Lord’s Prayer, and CUW will provide feedback and the publication is set for June 2017.
Rev. Dr. Daniel Paavola (Interviewee)