Those Eureka! Moments

Ekta for Blog

Ekta Patel

Soon to be joining zyBooks Marketing team

Hi! My name is Ekta. I’m currently finishing up my senior year at Harvard University, and am excited to be joining zyBooks in just a few short months. I’ll be starting on the marketing team and hope to bring my perspectives to zyBooks’ mission as a graduating senior and product of the STEM education system.

Over my four years in college, I have had the privilege of being exposed to an array of teaching methods, from some pretty groundbreaking professors. That said, no matter the level of innovation in the classroom, we still rely primarily on the old fallback — the textbook.

After all, most of the lectures I attend follow the guides of the texts. Homework assignments further list mandatory (read: “suggested”) readings. Answers to daily exercises request me to turn to certain sections of these thick books for explanations—a process I learned to speed up freshman year by simply searching keywords online. Don’t get me wrong, my professors are fantastic—effective in class and during office hours—but they too recognize that reinforcement that ingrains learning—particularly in STEM—comes from practice out of class. Outdated practices and traditional, static materials can only do so much.

So, I’ve resorted to self help. Through animations, videos, and even flash card systems I find online, I finally begin to absorb the material of the class. Unfortunately, I’m usually cramming this in days or even hours before midterms and final exams. The eureka! moments happen—I draw connections to other courses and brainstorm creative applications. But this process, both time-consuming and scattered, is unsustainable.

It’s no surprise that even now, after going through my last round of midterms, I still say I will start supplementing my course work with online activities sooner the next time.

This is my story, but it also speaks to a wider issue: Traditional textbooks are an outdated mode of learning.

Tools to teach wider audiences have evolved through more and more advanced means. News that used to only be delivered by hand can now be accessed readily online. Letters can be sent instantaneously through e-mail and videos shot and shared with a click. The web broadcasts its messages in ripples—calling for change in outdated mechanisms. Can education benefit from similar changes?

My actions speak clearly; I have already started to complement my learning with the broad base of content offered by the Web. But when the demand on students is only increasing, shouldn’t there be simpler tools that gather the strengths of technology together in one place for students with varied learning styles?

This is where zyBooks succeeds and makes learning sustainable. I was introduced to zyBooks last December and immediately found that it catered to my style. zyBooks are layered interactively—something traditional textbooks cannot achieve.  They present modular ways of teaching that facilitate a wide variety of learning styles.

Though I had no prior programming skills, I began a Python zyBook and was immediately drawn to the course’s flow. The zyBook communicates technical details in an accessible format that makes sense. Unlike crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia or online lecture videos, zyBooks are built from the ground up to engage. zyBooks content is enriched by functionality and diversity. I still remember the code-based examples interspersed throughout the Python zyBook I used, and I can’t wait to learn more!

With zyBooks, lectures and out-of-class work fuse and grow from student input. zyBooks brings all these tools together. In one place. Learning becomes an integrated experience that is constantly effective, not just the nights before the midterm.

I come to zyBooks with the hope of not leaving any education to the next time for these students. With zyBooks, eureka! moments can finally happen at a steady pace.

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