Almost immediately after decided in the spring to switch my textbook to Objects First With Java, I started to have buyer’s remorse. This became more acute when I made the decision to flip my class, because the book seemed singularly unsuitable to flipping.
It’s a good book; don’t get me wrong. Its two big strengths are that it uses a classes-early approach (which I think is essential to teaching object-oriented programming), and its use of BlueJ reinforces the idea of object behavior. But the book itself is written in a very narrative style that requires the user to follow through most of the examples in the book. This just doesn’t fit very well with the approach of separating the content out into videos for independent study.
So I got turned onto a new book, which for me is really an old book: Java Concepts by Cay Horstmann. In the past I had used Horstmann’s other book, Big Java, in my programming class. One of the things that I noticed first about the book is that it also introduces classes very early, in the first real chapter of programming.
But I was very impressed with many other features of the book. I like that the book has separate tracks to cover both testing and graphics, which are not always given enough attention. I also liked how the content in the book is peppered with pullouts to cover programming tips or common mistakes for students to consider. Last, but definitely not least, I like that this book is available in a Kindle edition for students who might like to have their book in digital form.
The overall structure of the book seems much more conducive to the more segmented approach that I will use with my flipping and standards-based teaching pedagogy. It will surely add to the learning curve to be working with an unfamiliar book in my new teaching approach, but I felt immensely more confident after talking with our textbook rep and getting this change pushed through at the eleventh hour.