Astronomy textbooks published today enable distant learning students to immerse themselves in labs as if studying on campus. When a student purchases college textbooks, including astronomy books, the student receives an access code that grants access to the virtual astronomy lab. The virtual astronomy lab is simply one of many online resources available to students. These are used alongside textbooks for a well-rounded learning experience.
Today's online scholars have the capability of accessing guided tutorials, sample test questions and virtual star charts. The guided tutorials take on a step-by-step approach to understanding difficult concepts. The student is able to understand one aspect of the concept at a time. Often challenging concepts build on each other, so providing the students with a source that encourages the achievement of one concept at a time is invaluable.
The sample test questions can either be generic questions generated by the book publisher or the instructor could customize them. Regardless of what type of question is provided, students are typically provided with the correct answer and oftentimes a comprehensive analysis as well. This facilitates the learning process by extrapolating difficult concepts and explaining why the correct answer is actually correct.
The virtual star charts are helpful for students learning at a distance. Distant learning methods are convenient, because students can learn at their leisure. They may find themselves taking a test at 2:00 a.m. after working at their job, or they could be completing an exercise on a star chart at 8:00 a.m. after resting from a 12-hour shift. It is not always feasible for a distant learner to simply walk out at night to complete an assignment that requires them to map out stars in their exact location at any given time. This is where the virtual star charts come in handy. The student will install the virtual star chart on their computer and enter the dates that the instructor has provided. Once the dates are input into the software, the student will see the night sky as it looked on the day that the homework assignment indicated. In essence, the student is engaging in a star mapping experience.
College textbooks provide students with limitless online resources, as well as a hard copy at a reasonable price. Astronomy is just one example of the many subjects that are currently available to online learners, while giving them the concrete resources from textbooks. As the education industry expands its delivery methods, course textbook publishers are trailing closely behind with highly innovative teaching methods.