The first method that I often use is so ridiculously simple, yet some of my fellow classmates looked at me like I was some kind of an alien when I told them about it. I admit, it almost seems too easy.
OK, so the first week of classes you should get a printed out or online syllabus. On the syllabus is the exact book information that you will need for that particular course.
Below is an example of that information:
A First Look at Communication Theory by Em Griffin, the leading textbook in the field of communication theory, published by McGraw Hill. (2009) Sixth Edition
The syllabus will also probably list the ISBN and some other stuff that is only important if you plan on going to the university bookstore and throwing your money away.
So you take a close look at the title, author, and very important yet often overlooked: THE PUBLISHER!
Well if you type the title, author, or publisher information of your required textbook into a major search engine such as Google…you might get a nice little surprise.
When you simply type in the title of this textbook, sitting there in front of your eyes, is the website: www.afirstlook.com. This kind of website is called a “Textbook Companion”. Click Here for a list of popular textbook companion websites.
If you click on this link, it takes you to the official textbook website. On this website is essentially everything you will need to pass this course. The majority of the chapters are located here…IN FULL.
The chapters that are missing still have great summaries that should at least educate you enough to pass some quizzes. The site has practical application logs and extended information about the various communication theories discussed in the book. Basically there is more information located on this website than there is in the actual textbook!
So please enlighten me on why most professor’s choose not to mention the actual textbook and publishers’ websites…and instead let you trek to the bookstore and spend hundreds of dollars?
If you type in the title and are not really finding anything except online bookstores, try digging a little deeper. I recommend typing in the publisher, followed by something like “online chapters" or “read online". Yes, it really is that simple. Also, try searching for information about the author: For example, Search “em griffin communication theory". Basically just play around with different search phrases and you WILL find SOMETHING USEFUL.
The BEST part about this method is that oftentimes the publisher websites will contain online flashcards and quizzes. Guess who also might be lazy and choose to use these quizzes for their classes instead of making their own? Yep, you guessed it, your professors!