The Award for Outstanding Secondary Resource was in 2018 won by Cengage Learning for their French learning text, Tapis Volant. Translated as ‘flying carpet’ referring to the many countries where French is spoken, the series first appeared in 1995 as a student workbook, student book, teacher resource book and audio cassettes.
The Australian Publishers Association, coordinators of the Educational Publishing Awards of Australia, spoke with Catriona McKenzie, Senior publisher of Nelson (a Cengage company) to learn more about transitioning Tapis Volant’s older editions to align with the current Australian curriculum, involving many teachers as authors and advisers.
From Catriona McKenzie:
The original edition of Tapis Volant related its material to a context near where Australian students live (e.g. the Pacific on the east, the Indian Ocean countries on the west). So the first two editions included characters, situations, and cultural information from New Caledonia, Mauritius, Réunion, Vietnam, etc., as well as from France and Australia.
The first three editions took into consideration the range of state syllabus requirements, but the 4th edition, the one which won an EPAA, was written in accordance with the Australian Curriculum and this is one of the major reasons for the update of this series.
A cover change
In Tapis Volant editions 1, 2 and 3 the icon was a person on a flying carpet. However, in the 4th edition, a black cat was chosen as it is a typical French icon reflecting the first cabaret founded in Paris in the mid-19th century.
Storyline and context
In Tapis Volant 3e the key contexts of the dialogues, the story line and cultural backgrounds shifted back to France, in response to requests from teachers. There were still references and characters from other places where French is spoken, including New Caledonia and Australia as well as Europe (Belgium and Switzerland), Africa (including Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles), North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), the Caribbean and Canada.
Edition 4 additions
Like edition three, along with the usual textbooks and workbooks, there was also a NelsonNetBook component, and a comprehensive website with digital resources for students and teachers.
In every unit of Tapis Volant 4e Student Books and Workbooks, the inclusion of new features such as ‘Find out more’, ‘What do you think’, ‘Reflect and create’, ‘Let’s compare French and English’, ‘Let’s communicate in French’ with associated tasks, provide students with the opportunity to engage in a range of activities and to apply their language learning.
The auto-evaluation section has been enriched by including more grammar problem-solving activities (students are asked to reflect on how the language works rather than being told). A new section, ‘Mise au point’, invites students to reflect on their work and devise strategies to improve their learning (‘learning how to learn’).
Trends in language learning
The current focus on task-based language learning to develop a range of communicative skills and intercultural competencies seems to still prevail in second language acquisition methodology. Reflecting today’s digital teaching and learning, there is a variety of features integrated in the e-book as well as the digital activities on the website, all of which have a range of methodological implications. A diverse range of teaching styles and philosophies is possible, just as there is always a range of ways in which students prefer to learn and/or opportunities for new ways of learning. The 4th edition was carefully designed to respond to these changes with the focus on the student, rather than follow any ‘latest trend’.
The team (including teachers)
Many individuals collaborated on the Tapis Volant 4e series, including authors, teachers, students, curriculum advisers, language consultants and proofreaders, together with more than 20 Cengage employees including editors, designers and illustrators, sales and marketing representatives, production personnel, audio personnel, and digital teams.
The authors have throughout all four editions been indebted to the excellent advice and editing of freelance editor, Ingrid de Baets.
For the 4th edition, Kellie Dickson, a secondary teacher of French at McKinnon Secondary College reviewed the core manuscripts and was a co-author of the Teacher Toolkit. Kellie’s input provided invaluable elements of classroom practicality and awareness of student needs and curriculum requirements.
There has always been extensive teacher involvement throughout all editions of Tapis Volant. The teacher reviewers for the various components of the course have provided suggestions for topics, their sequencing and content, the progression of difficulty of language, the style of exercises, the wording of questions, ideas for assessment, the importance of ‘scaffolding’ for student tasks, and the significance or otherwise of various aspects of the culture.
There has from time to time been student feedback on the engaging nature of the characters and their stories as well as criticism of the characters and their appearance!
The feedback has been very positive. Students are enjoying the updated photographs and content, variety of core skill practice and relevance and interest of topics such as the environment and fashion (Book 2), handy vocabulary lists at the end of each chapter, online activities such as the videos and the comprehensive preparation for senior studies via Workbook tasks which can be completed in French or English.
Thoughts on the EPAA win
The Tapis Volant series has been well received for more than twenty years by teachers of French throughout Australia. This is due in part to the authors’ continued enthusiasm and shared beliefs and educational principles about teaching and learning French, as well as their skill in developing humorous and lively dialogues that students can relate to, linked story lines to maintain student interest, the constant interplay of cultural differences, and contemporary language modelling.
There is also no doubt that the diversity and range of exercises and activities has been pleasing to students and teachers across a wide range of different schools in Australia. There is also a range of supplementary activities, some closely related to the unit language, others more general; videos, audio listening texts, worksheets with scaffolding for speaking activities, extension activities, curriculum support and connections, games, online activities for revision and consolidation, drawing posters, and even making a short film. Students are provided with opportunities for task- based, collaborative and independent learning that can be completed in classrooms or at home.
Personal experience and a passion for innovation through customer feedback, has led hair and beauty expert, Hayley Costa from Skin Deep Learning, to not only dive into the world of educational publishing but also win the highest honour for tertiary/vocational learning resources at the Educational Publishing Awards of Australia this year.
Skin Deep Learning’s resources look like a beauty magazine you’d pluck off the shelf at a newsagency. Yet behind the covers are the results of involved student research and creative thinking that helps trainers to teach and inspire students of hair and beauty to be more knowledgable about their craft – giving them more opportunities in their future.
The journey to being a publisher for vocational learning started for Ms Costa when she was a salon owner who employed new VET graduates. She went on to become a beauty trainer in the VET sector, later writing for resources, and also working as a Registered Training Organisation compliance officer.
“It was the culmination of these experiences that allowed me to see the gap in the market. What I saw was a lack of resources that were engaging to the learner and gave the trainer the support they needed. So resources with a combined teacher and student focus, that worked in with compliance matters, was born in Skin Deep Learning.”
Skin Deep Learning creates learning resources that are a full assessment system for both teachers and students in the hair and beauty field. “With these resources,” Ms Costa says, “teachers can put their focus into what they do best – training and assessing – rather than spending countless hours writing training materials.
“Our learning products are a safe option for Registered Training Organisations, as they have been thoroughly audited and validated. The trainer can feel comfortable knowing their compliance needs are met.”
In the concept phase, research was conducted on graduate demographics focusing on their understanding and satisfaction of the resources that were available at the time. This was combined with Ms Costa’s personal experience as a trainer.
“I was deeply troubled as a teacher by the level of understanding and engagement by students in the theory of the subjects. These students were great on the practical side but were struggling to grasp the theory and getting them to read a textbook or black and white word-based documents was like “pulling teeth.”
“I had a pivotal moment thinking about what beauty and hairdressing students read, engage with, and enjoy. The answer was fashion magazines and social media. I wanted to develop a learning resource that was targeted in its approach, that provided the student with all of the information they needed to know, and was presented in a way that was not daunting or ‘like school’.”
“The language style is really important too. The conversational writing approach was used to invite the student on a learning journey, and limit any intimidation potentially caused by formal language. The content emphasises the key points to students in an easy to understand way and uses real world examples that students can relate to.
“It may seem simple but there is a lot of thought and strategy into developing the magazine-style learning materials.They look like a magazine, but they have to deliver learning outcomes.
Therefore, we had to come up with a new style that is a hybrid between a magazine and textbook.”
In order to bring the resources to life, Ms Costa admits that she needed assistance.
“I needed help from a graphic designer. We sat together and worked through everything page by page. This was expensive and time consuming, but worth it, as it provided us with a set of templates and methodology. I got a few grey hairs managing all of the content and the magazine layout, but all in the day of the life of an editor!”
Since the resources were first trialled in 2014, a strong product has been recreated due to Ms Costa’s constant connection with teachers and others in the sector. “Without their encouraging remarks, and pestering me to produce more units, I may have just given up a time or two.”
Skin Deep Learning has a philosophy of continual improvement built into a customer/teacher feedback mechanism. This allows design thinking and co-creation principles to guide the development of the resources on an ongoing basis.
“We have a very active customer base. We get feedback on our resources from trainers, students, people in industry, product companies, auditors and compliance personnel. We also have an on-line community which is an additional source of vital information, as it allows trainers and students to chat with each other about assessments and ask for help or give feedback on the resources.
“It’s through these feedback channels that we gain lots of new information which helps us to continuously improve the resources.
“We have systems and processes to manage this information which results in unit updates and our annual Continuous Improvement Report. Every year our resources improve with these multiple sources of feedback, which means all RTOs benefit from the wide range of feedback we receive.”
The resources initially took somewhere between four and nine months to create – but they are always changing and improving. It’s these systems that Ms Costa says are the greatest lesson in her venture thus far.
“I have learnt a great deal on this journey but my take home message from the last phase of business expansion was around systems and structures. They are the only way to increase productivity and keep errors and unnecessary re-work to a minimum. I learnt that in order to meet demand, we had to publish fast, so systems and structure was pivotal. These also impact version control.”
What is next for Skin Deep Learning? “Well we have a number of ideas that will build on the foundation we have created and further innovation in the vocational education market. These will be outside our current markets and of course we will go for the high-volume, high-value courses. Wait and see 2019 should be another transformational year for Skin Deep Learning.”
Skin Deep Learning was awarded two awards at the 25th Educational Publishing Awards of Australia, which were judged by a panel of experts – including teachers – led by Chief Judge Associate Professor Angela Carbone, from Swinburne University.
The Educational Publisher Awards Australia showcase excellence and innovation in the field of educational publishing.
Macmillan Education was the winner of the most outstanding resource for Primary school at the Educational Publishing Awards this year. They share the extent to which educators and experts were involved in developing winning resource STEM Investigations for Upper Primary.
Written by highly qualified teaching professionals, aligned with the national curriculum, tested by teachers, edited by science experts, and praised by teacher-users, the learning resource was declared “a stand out” by the judges of the Educational Publishing Awards.
Commissioning Editor for the Primary School Division at Macmillan Education Georgina Garner says, “Macmillan partners with educators and experts that specialise in the subjects they publish. We engaged experienced STEM educators to author and consult on this product.
“Specific research and concept development for the learning resource began in 2016 and the product was published March 2018.
“The resource was developed to cover Australian Curriculum (and certain state curriculum) objectives in Maths, Science and Technology,” Ms Garner shares. “Each investigation idea, such as designing an earth-quake resistant building or designing a lighting and sound system for a school disco, is clearly linked to objectives in these subject areas, as teachers need to know what goal they are working towards to assess success and to plan their teaching time effectively. The author team who created the inquiry ideas are all current or former educators.
The Educational Publishing Award judges chose the STEM learning resource as its innovative set of investigation cards focused on real-world problems, in which students are guided to follow a five-step Stanford University Design Thinking model to apply STEM knowledge and skills.
When asked why she thinks they were chosen as a stand out by the judges, Ms Garner says it’s down to addressing the two audiences in the one product. “STEM Investigations for Upper Primary has a highly comprehensive Teacher Resource Book. It provides everything a primary school teacher needs in one place in a logical order with an accessible design – from teacher PD, planning, quality questions and activities, apps, video links etcetera.”
For students she says, “It addresses real world problems and gives them an opportunity to explore solutions to those problems which could ultimately make an impact in their local communities. There are 20 challenges but there are an endless number of potential solutions.”
The lead author on the project was Charlotte Forward who holds a PhD (exploring student understanding of Science vocabulary), has a Master of Teaching, and is in the classroom full-time. Prior to this project she was involved in a pilot STEM program, High Possibility Classrooms, with Dr. Jane Hunter from the University of Technology Sydney and Independent Schools Victoria.
The editing process for the resource followed standard processes and quality control markers with an in-house editorial lead, supported by the managing and commissioning editor.
“A freelance editor with a strong science background was used consistently across the series.” Ms Garner explains. “And several touchpoints with authors and the publishing team were added into the review process.” Macmillan Education drew on a number of education consultants for feedback at key points in the process.
While STEM education is not yet reflected in its own curricula, the subject is highly valued by several governments around the world due to links with future economic prospects and employment opportunities. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that “changing 1 per cent of Australia’s workforce into STEM-related roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP.”**
Ms Garner explains, “The Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda was announced in December 2015 outlining a number of initiatives designed to increase the participation of all school students and the wider community in STEM and improve their digital literacy. This was backed with four-year funding from 2016.”
Macmillan Education has received very positive feedback from teachers who have used STEM Investigations for Upper Primary so far. Bruce Armstrong, Science teacher at Karoo Public School said in a review published in Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria Inc. Journal:
“STEM Investigations for Upper Primary will equip any classroom teacher with an exciting variety of possible projects and the necessary tools to make the investigations highly engaging and productive, even if they have little experience in facilitating STEM investigations.”
A curriculum leader in Victoria says, “I have purchased both upper and middle packs through Macmillan as I was drawn to the incorporation of the d-school design thinking model. This is a real point of different from other resources I have seen, which generally focus on toys, rather than the thinking. The kit that you (Macmillan Education) have put out is the best one I have seen so far.”
This successful resource has been built in collaboration with the specific outcome of giving teachers everything they need to inspire and encourage STEM skills and thinking in their classrooms. Akin to the goal of STEM in problem solving, Ms Garner says, “All successful educational publishing meets a need. If a resource helps the teacher better meet a student need, then the resource will have longevity.”
**(PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), A Smart Move: future-proofing Australia’s workforce by growing skills in STEM (2015)).
Many thanks to Georgina Garner and Alexandra Harper from Macmillan Education.
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For our penultimate Meet the Judges interview, we talk to two Tertiary sector judges: publishing consultant Penny Martin and and Senior Publishing Editor Fiona Hammond from Cengage.