A unit of self-learning material needs to end at some stage, and we have already emphasized the length of a unit to be about 5000-6000 words. The end matters of a unit include: summary, references and further reading list, keywords / glossary, answers to SAQs, etc. In order to complete the writing of a self-learning unit, you must include all of these. Let’s discuss briefly these components.
After the contents are discussed and described in hierarchical order, the summary is written. This is the place where as teacher we would highlight what has been covered so far in the unit. So, in self-learning materials, the summary emphasizes the key learning points discussed and covered in the unit to help the learner re-capitulate and recall them. The summary is neither an abstract nor an overview, but a description of all ‘teachable moments’ of the unit. The summary is normally written in past tense and in the usual conversational style. It is also suggested that we ask the learners to write their own summary and compare with that of the summary of the unit. This helps the learner to construct his/her own knowledge as a constructivist learner.
References and Further Readings
In order to complete the unit, it is important that all in-text citations are provided with full literature references at the end using a standard reference style (such as APA, Chicago, MLA, etc). Useful textbooks in the topic may also be cited as further readings.
A word of Caution:
Referencing is also important to avoid allegations of plagiarism and violation of copyright. As unit writers of distance learning materials, we should be aware of copyright and plagiarism issues. When you pick-up someone’s expression of thought/ideas and present it as your own without acknowledging and crediting the person concerned you are doing plagiarism. It is considered academic dishonesty, and treated as cheating. Copyright is violation of the rights related to creativity and expression of thought of the original creator forcing to financial loss. There is the concept of ‘fair use’ in educational context that permits us to use some already published material in limited amount. But, in reality ‘how much’ use is fair use is not very clear. Therefore, if you are using someone else’s expression, use it with quotation and use sparingly. Never take so much from another material that will reflect as if you have copied or borrowed. At the same time never forget to acknowledge the source. When in doubt about plagiarism or copyright, don’t forget to ask someone more knowledgeable on the matter. It is also useful to seek and acquire permission from the copyright holder, before you borrow material.
This is an important access device that enables the learner to use the self-learning material effectively. The use of a technical term within the text may be listed in this section with its explanation. You may like to make the term bold in the text to emphasize its importance as a technical term / concept that is critical to the understanding of the subject topic.
We have discussed the use of feedback earlier, and in the end part of the self-learning material, all the answers / feedback may be listed.