Textbook Programs

Make Your Own Knowledge Base Textbook

For educators, one of the big advantages of the Beyond Intractability system is that it supports the creation of custom, build-your-own texts and course materials. Using any HTML editor (including Microsoft FrontPage or even Microsoft Word), educators can easily prepare annotated tables of contents for customized books, built from resources in the Knowledge Base system. One can also create a course outline or syllabus and include live links to particular Knowledge Base resources, just as one would put in a citation for a chapter in a book. In order to insert Knowledge Base materials into the table of contents or course outline, or to assemble a full "book," all you need to do is open an editor in one window and BeyondIntractability.org in another. (If you have a big screen, you can position the two windows side-by-side. For smaller screens, you can have the two windows "cascade" or overlap.) Using any of the following tools, identify Beyond Intractability essays/articles, interviews, and cited references that you would like to assign to your students:

Surf through the Beyond Intractability system until you find materials that you would like to assign to your students. Meanwhile, use your HTML editor/word processor to write your course syllabus or the annotated table of contents for your custom textbook. When you're ready to insert a Beyond Intractability resource, all you need to do is drag-and-drop the icon on your browser's address bar into the appropriate place in your editor/word processor. And almost every case that we've tried, the computer will automatically create the correct link. If you are using Microsoft FrontPage, the link will appear as the title of the Beyond Intractability resource (for example, Conflict Stages); if you're using one of the many other available editors (or a word processor like Microsoft Word), you're likely to get a link that features the URL and looks like this: http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/conflict-stages. You can leave this URL as it is, replace it with the more understandable resource title, or insert the resource title ahead of the URL. Please be aware that replacing the displayed URL may be a somewhat delicate process, depending upon the software that you are using; you will need to ensure that the underlying URL is preserved. When using Microsoft Word, for example, typing over the displayed URL will change the underlying URL as well, rendering it inoperable. The solution is as follows:

  1. Type your desired replacement text before the displayed URL.
  2. Highlight the displayed URL, and use CTRL-X to cut it.
  3. Highlight your replacement text.
  4. Click on the Insert Hyperlink icon in the toolbar.
  5. On the screen that appears, use CTRL-V to paste the URL that you previously cut into the "Type the file or Web page name" box. Exit the box by clicking "OK." Your replacement text should now be a link.

Once you're finished adding all of the resources and explanatory materials that you have selected, simply save the page and upload it to your class website. Alternatively, can simply e-mail it to your students as a Word or HTML file.

One of the nice features of this approach is that it gives educators a "just-in-time" textbook capability. Next week's assignments can — quite easily — be based on this week's discussion.

We are also hoping to assemble a collection of course syllabi and online texts prepared using Beyond Intractability resources. Our goal is to reduce the number of times that people have to "reinvent the wheel." So, we would very much appreciate your sending us a copy of any materials that you might prepare using this system, along with any comments you have about what works and doesn't work, and what improvements you would like to see in the overall system.