, December 18, 2012
This textbook from Cengage Learning is a custom-published version of "Discovering Computers 2011: Living in a Digital World, Complete 1st Edition" by Gary B. Shelly and Misty E. Vermaat, (2010), created specifically to be the textbook for the Portland Community College course, CIS 120: Computing Concepts I. This text does not come with CD-ROMs or software, but includes some forms and information specific to PCC students in the first few pages before the start of the actual text.
This large, heavy, paperback text is dense with information, excellent full-color graphics, abundant links and extra features--everything you might need for a solid overview of computers. I appreciated that its format was well-designed for readers at different levels of experience in the world of computers. There were sections where I needed to read closely to get caught up on certain topics, and others in which I could rapidly jump ahead, and the book design facilitated that type of reading. Its design is laid out in a very useful style, with color-coded chapters, bolded special terms, multi-level color-coded subheadings and clear, explanatory graphics for those who learn better through images. Chapters include helpful features such as beginning learning objectives, ending chapter summaries, key word vocabulary reviews, key concept reviews, and mini-quizzes.
Of course, the risk when dealing with a broad and fluid topic like computer technology is that the subject matter may advance so rapidly as to make any printed text immediately obsolete. Does that happen with this text? I'd say yes, it does, a little, but that is to be expected; the authors are trying to pin down a rapidly moving target. Could you dig up the latest info about all of the book's material by researching it on the Internet? Probably so, but it would be an exhausting search across many, many sites with varying degrees of accuracy and authority. Authors Shelly and Vermaat have gathered a tremendous amount of material here into one convenient package, and the info they present is reliable. I see this as a strength; while the world of technology continues to change around us, this book gives readers the vocabulary and background needed to springboard off into current online discussions of the latest developments. Apart from its usefulness for the students taking the course, this book would be an ideal overview for anyone wishing to teach themselves basic computer concepts, and should remain a useful reference for a couple of years, at which point a newer edition might be released.