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Today we celebrate 25 years of educational publishing in Australia

More than 200 educators and educational publishers will come together at The Arts Centre in Melbourne tonight to toast another year of making high-standard educational materials for Australia’s roughly four million school students, and also Tertiary and TAFE/vocational learners.

The combined efforts of educators and educational publishers will be celebrated in the 25th Educational Publishing Awards of Australia on Thursday 20 September 2018.

Keynote speaker at the awards, TV presenter and primary school teacher, Shelley Ware knows doubly well how involved and crucial educational learning resources are, having authored Teacher Notes for literacy and regularly chosen learning materials for her classroom.

“Good educational resources engage students. Teachers fully rely on them, and they are a part of the big picture to inspire students to have a lifelong passion to read and learn,” Ms Ware said.

“As a writer I learnt so much about the valuable role of and immense skill of editors and also the timelines in the publishing process, and as a teacher I look for good quality, interesting, children-friendly texts – they’re vital for the classroom,” Ms Ware continued.

In the hands of hardworking educators across the nation but often overlooked, learning resources are a critical component for an active and engaged classroom. Good educational resources make the lives of teachers easier, and are created by switched on and connected educational publishers.

Schools and Educational Publishing representative on the Australian Publishers Association’s Board, Brendan Bolton said, “Many educational publishing staff previously worked as teachers, and publishers always consult classroom educators to inform the development of a new product. Publishers work closely with curriculum bodies to produce relevant and timely resources as well.

“Learning resources can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to create”, Bolton said, “and when we do our job well, it’s great to know we’re helping teachers do the important work of bringing their classrooms to life.”

Twenty-three awards will be presented across primary, secondary and tertiary education.

See you all tonight from 5.30pm!

Future-proofing with diacriTech

 

Smarter conversion strategies and delivery mechanisms, intelligent workflow automations and tools, and tactical solutions to production challenges: these are the top essentials to address the growth prospects, changes, and latest trends in the global content publishing market, which is witnessing huge transformations.

As the publishing landscape has evolved, so have we at diacriTech (a leading Publishing Solutions provider for Content Transformation and Digital Content Services—specialising in the Education, Scientific, Technical, and Medical [STM], and Trade industry) through developing effective niche content strategies. Read on to understand how we operate in the hybrid world of print and digital by balancing technology and knowledge perspectives: to serve the top segment of the largest publishing groups worldwide.

Future-proofing is imperative to the digital disruption caused by mobiles. It is no surprise that mobile is the fastest growing media platform in today’s increasingly connected world of disruptive technologies and digital-savvy consumers. What is important to keep in mind is the larger opportunity available for capitalising the demand for high-value communication

At diacriTech, we help publishers do just that: succeed in the move beyond print to digital, and also sustain longer term future growth by handling everything from simple eBooks that are identical to their printed counterparts to eBooks that are apps in their own right using Augmented/Virtual Reality technologies. As consumer demands drive changes in publishing formats, our digital strategy ensures that the needs of publishers are met across all channels, geographies, and even the type of device used—ranging from laptops to smartphones and portable tablets.

Integrating day-to-day editorial workflow activities using a standardised approach is critical to improving productivity and simplifying business processes. At diacriTech, our cloud-based proprietary enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, Functional Management System (FMS) has been especially effective in streamlining production tasks and ensuring workflow adherence by linking all the stages and resources involved in a completely digital process. It provides customers with real-time status information for all the projects in production.

X-Edit Pro: Next-level workflow management

X-Edit Pro—an entire digital publishing suite offering a collaborative environment for all stake holders from editorial, production, authors and issue managers to work together seamlessly. A book and journal production workflow management system that is flexible yet controlled by the publisher to push content quicker to market. It is cloud based, supports both XML and HTML, and enables authoring to be integrated into the production workflow to ensure high-quality structured content right from the source, increased workflow efficiency, improved content consistency, and reduced version control errors. It delivers final files in multiple output formats. Leading publishers globally have taken up this new platform as it solves a lot of their challenges.

True automation

Automation is the silver bullet to enhance the publishing workflow. Our true XML-first workflow InXML tool is capable of automating a majority of layout tasks related to pagination while leveraging Adobe InDesign’s capabilities for document composition. Better yet, the platform is agnostic to document type definition (DTD) and schema, and can use any client-specified mark-up language. It also supports simultaneous delivery of print, online, and EPUB files. This tool takes care of the many challenges accompanying complex style elements, an attribute common to design-oriented school texts with layouts built around pedagogical methodology. It eventually helps to alleviate a potentially higher workload incurred in the latter stages of production.

The best content or learning management system for publishers does not stop with the creation and management of content assets. Modularity, flexibility, customisation, and the ability to refresh and reuse content from existing publications to meet the evolving needs of publishing deliver a host of advantages. This is what we offer besides content hosting, creation, authoring and accuracy checking, digital assets and rights management, content population/migration services for collaborative learning platforms, traditional LMS, or simply digital content hubs that share quality information and provide more relevant content experience in a number of ways.

New technologies mean new opportunities in creating a reality for the future of eLearning. Education in an augmented or virtual reality world is not just another fad. It is a revolutionary concept that brings untapped possibilities to teaching and learning with its advanced visualization and immersive capabilities. Many books and magazines have taken the reading engagement to the next level by creating a virtual animation of their pictures using the growing phenomenon of Augmented Reality. This not only increases the audience engagement, but also it adds a new dimension to the publisher’s revenue generation strategies. Taking this into account, we have developed significant expertise in devising Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality solutions that offer immersive and realistic educational experiences. In addition, for publishers who are keen to create truly next-generation digital content, we provide the way forward. We help them to take full advantage of HTML5 digital capabilities starting from content development to interactive eBook creation services, including Flash to HTML5 transition.

Over the years we have come a long way on our digital publishing journey, providing solutions to production challenges, shaping digital workflows, and crafting immersive experiences in the educational space. We, with our customers’ support, hope to continue this journey delivering more and better content of the highest quality across digital and print platforms that stand testimony to outstanding educational value. We look forward to more opportunities to serve our existing and new customers.

Learn more about diacriTech here.

Getting to know keynote speaker Shelley Ware

Keynote speaker Shelley Ware is perhaps best known for her work on the SBS footy show, Marngrook, yet she’s an experienced and practising primary school teacher based in Victoria and is author of the educational resource, Teaching Notes for Sunshine Classics.

Shelley spoke with us recently about her love for teaching, her experience in writing and working with editors and publishers, and the importance of learning resources being quickly engaging for students.

Shelley Ware, EPAA 2018 key note speaker

You’ve noted that from a young age you wanted to be a teacher. What was the genesis of this career goal? 

Yes, I have always wanted to be a teacher. My father Bob Ware valued education and the pathways it created in your life. My mother Jan Ware went back to study nursing in her late 30s so education has always been important to me because of their inspiration and thinking.

In your experience, to what extent do teachers rely on good-quality texts in the classroom?
Good quality, interesting, children-friendly texts are vital for the classroom. You want to engross students and help develop their love for reading. Teachers fully rely on good-quality texts; they are a part of the big picture to engage students to have a lifelong passion to read and learn.

What was the process like in developing Teaching Notes for publication? How did you tackle research, writing and editing it?
We treated Teaching Notes as a resource teachers could pick up and use without having to read the text beforehand and do any preparation. A teacher’s day is so busy and we wanted to make life easier for them. We developed a tool to help a time-pressured teacher get the most out of their busy planning and reading sessions.

What insights did you get about educational publishing in writing Teaching Notes for Sunshine Books?
I learnt about publishing deadlines and how quickly publishers want your work! And also about the amazing support and skills editors have. I very much appreciated them!

You were a literacy program coordinator for four years. What can you tell us about literacy and the role good books and resources play in schools today?

The books I chose as a literacy program coordinator needed to engage my students quickly and they loved the books I picked out for them. If I chose a book that didn’t engage them it was sent to the back of the pile never to be used again, only in case of emergencies. Easy to read, colourful, well laid out and well written books are essential.

What would you say is the role of educational publishing in an innovative classroom?
Educational publishing has a responsibilty role is to engage learners of all ages and levels. The publisher has an obligation to listen to the students and teachers about what their needs are.

In an article you’re mentioned to have said that you love Aussie Rules because of the opportunities it gives people, which is often said of education as well. Are they the same in any other ways?

I love the opportunities education gives people! I wouldn’t have the life I have without education playing a huge role. Football and education are both exciting, exhilarating and with you for the long haul. Always by your side giving you a focus and passion in your life that keeps your soul alive.

Learn more about Shelley Ware.

Interview with Chief Judge Angela Carbone

We asked Angela Carbone, Chief Judge, about the final judging day, her take on the state of the educational publishing industry and her new role at Swinburne University. Here’s what she had to say:

What is your role in the judging process?
I’m the Chief Judge and I work very closely with the panel of judges. The panel is split into assessment teams that review entries submitted in each of the following categories: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary/Vocational. Each team has a lead judge, and I collaborate with the lead judges to make the final decisions.

There is much talk around final judging day. Could you tell us a bit about the process?
Prior to judging day, all the assessors review each

Angela Carbone, Chief Judge, at the 2017 EPAAs.

submission, evaluate the entry based on the judging criteria and write a few comments to justify their assessment.

On final judging day, the panel comes together to discuss their assessments, sharing their ratings and rationales. During this moderation period judges can change their assessment. They continue this process until a consensus is reached on the ranking of applications. Eventually, the panel nominates the top 2–3 titles with a ‘commendable’ or ‘highly commendable’ award, and they present their top-ranked entries to the rest of the judges.

As part of the final stage of the judging process, the lead judges share their top 2–3 entries with me and together we decide the winner. During the day, I immerse myself in the table discussions as listening to the judges’ rationales assists me in making a considered decision.

How has judging changed from last year?
We have revised the judging criteria this year based on feedback from last year’s judges. We have made the criteria clearer. The distinct criterion includes: publishing contribution; educational rigour; relevance, cohesion and suitability; flexibility and adaptability; and clarity, design and engagement.

A significant change was to select one winner for each category (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary/Vocational). Last year, there was considerable concern from the judges, including myself, around judging resources fairly. Comparing a primary school resource with a university resource was like comparing apples and oranges! So, this works much better this year and has been well received.

All resources are judged for excellence, innovation and originality. How do you think this year’s entries fared against the judging criteria?
Entries are improving each year. Publishers are more cognisant of the changes occurring in the way students learn and are fully exploiting the affordances of technology.

In the past twelve months, you’ve moved to Swinburne to become the Associate Dean (Learning Innovation) for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology. Could you tell us a bit more about your role and what responsibilities you have?
As Associate Dean Learning Innovation, I am primarily charged with the responsibility of leading strategic development and overseeing the operational implementation of strategies relating to learning, teaching and scholarship . I hold overall accountability for ensuring the implementation of the university’s Learning and Teaching strategy within my Faculty. Often this includes facilitating leadership of teaching and learning innovation, driving specific agendas and ensuring the quality of courses and programs.

I’m also leading education in the faculty at an operational level. I supervise a number of teams that ensure our courses are of a high quality and are accredited by professional bodies. Among other responsibilities, they also ensure that student resources and learning environments are up-to-date and contemporary, and that students have pathways to change courses.

What are some challenges you think educators face in today’s learning environments?
Educators have to really think about ways to engage students by giving students authentic learning experiences. Learning today doesn’t just happen in the classroom or from a textbook. Students may not be receptive to a passive, didactic teaching delivery. Instead, we need to focus on creating active learning environments which give students engaging and rich experiences. We want students to talk about the issues discussed in our classrooms with their peers outside of the classroom.

Is there anything you’d like to add in the lead up to the 2018 EPAAs?
The publishers are doing a great job. They’re operating in an educational environment that is changing rapidly. Advances in technology, providing online resources in which students can assess their knowledge and skills at the own pace and in their own time are becoming more and more prevalent. Yet, many teachers still see the value in teaching from textbooks.

We’re at an interesting point in time in education, where traditional textbooks are still valuable, but online adaptive delivery is becoming more accessible and intuitive and provides teachers with timely learning analytics at their fingertips. It will be interesting to see what further advances will occur in the next couple of years.

The resources that are being published in both print and digital are fabulous.

The finalists and all the winners have done an exceptional job. Compared to last year – as good, if not even better I would say.

We hope to see you all at the industry event of the year at The Pavilion, Arts Centre on Thursday, 20 September 2018.

Interview with Gregory Crocetti, Scale Free Network

We caught up with Gregory Crocetti, the Co-director at Scale Free Network, about The Invisible War: A Tale of Two Scales, to see how things have panned out since winning the Most Outstanding Resource of the Year Award at last year’s Educational Publishing Awards Australia (EPAAs). Here’s what he had to say:

After taking out the gong for ‘Most Outstanding Resource of the Year’ at the 2017 EPAAs, the resource has generated considerable buzz. Did you expect the response for The Invisible War: A Tale of Two Scales to be overwhelming positive?

Cover artwork for The Invisible War. Artwork by Ben Hutchings.

From the start, we knew we had a unique idea, but we couldn’t be sure of how it would be received. The team (Ailsa, Ben, Briony, Jeremy and I) worked really hard to weave the diverse elements of the story together in an engaging way, and to do justice to the history and the science content. We felt proud of the work before we started getting validation from independent sources, but I think we have all been surprised at just how well it has done. It feels great to see the creative risks we took, pay off. Considering that for most of the team, The Invisible War is our first graphic novel, we’re doubly pleased that the response has been so positive, not just from an educational publishing perspective  but also from the book design and literary world. Perhaps there’s something to be said for coming to a genre fresh, with no set idea about what a comic should or should not be able to express.

How has winning an EPAA award made a difference to Scale Free Network?

It’s really been an amazing ride for Scale Free Network (SFN) since the EPAAs in late 2017. With this award under our belt (and the sticker on the cover of our graphic novel), we have felt more confident in our interdisciplinary approach and developments have been happening at a faster rate. We might not be able to call ourselves a micro-publisher much longer! First off, we’ve finalised a deal with CSIRO Publishing to co-publish four titles in our picture book series, Small Friends Books, and recently we received support from the Australia Council for the Arts to travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Concerning The Invisible War, I am excited to announce that earlier in 2018, we signed the North American rights to Graphic Universe, an imprint of Lerner Books – the largest independent publisher in the USA – who will release a US hard-cover edition of the book around April/May 2019.

Excerpt from The Invisible War (micro-scale). Artwork by Ben Hutchings.

Could you tell us what this North American deal means for the future of the book?

Our immediate hope is that we can now capitalise on the momentum from North America to pursue other foreign rights deals at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. We would particularly love to see The Invisible War published across Europe and Asia. Of course, the upcoming US release also means a wider audience for our story. Ultimately, we want as many people to read the book as possible – and to journey into the amazing (and radically underappreciated) world of microbes that call our bodies home.

Perhaps most significantly, we also now feel we have a strong case to take the ideas and concepts behind The Invisible War from one book, and turn them into a series of graphic novels, set across the microscopic landscapes of the human body. The working title for this series is Planet Human…Stay tuned!

For those that may not know, could you tell us a little more about Scale Free Network? And the wins and challenges of being considered a micro-publisher in Melbourne.

SFN is a Melbourne-based, art-science collective and micro-publisher originally founded by conceptual artist Briony Barr and myself, having stepped back from my research as a microbial ecologist.

Since 2007, we have developed our interdisciplinary methodology through workshops (co-developed with artist Jacqueline Smith), participatory installations and exhibitions inspired by the ‘invisible majority’ (microbial communities and physical forces beyond human perception). Our projects aim to ‘visualise the invisible’ and to question the human-scale lens through which we relate to the world. We have presented work at science and art institutions throughout Australia and internationally, including at the 2017 Melbourne Festival (Experimenta Make Sense), World Science Festival Brisbane and Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Korea.

In 2014, we expanded our practice to include the co-creation and publication of the Small Friends Books series. The series – now co-published with CSIRO Publishing – explores the ubiquitous phenomenon of cooperation between microorganisms and larger life forms. Each story is created in collaboration with writer Ailsa Wild, illustrator Aviva Reed in consultation with scientists and educators.

How does The Invisible War improve educational outcomes for students?

Excerpt from The Invisible War (human scale). Artwork by Ben Hutchings.

I find it amazing that 99% of the biodiversity on Earth, including the diversity on and inside our bodies, is invisible to the naked eye. There’s all of this amazing new scientific research revealing the roles that microbes, especially bacteria and viruses, play every day in keeping our bodies and minds healthy. Ultimately, we hope The Invisible War will help spark curiosity in the minds of readers – both young and old – about the microscopic world, encouraging people to take a less human-centric perspective about our place in the natural world. We can talk about STEM or STEAM resources as much as we like, but in my humble opinion, the best science education finds engaging ways to inspire a sense of wonder and get people asking questions…

Taking a broader view of education, there has been lots of talk of cross-curriculum priorities and interdisciplinary resources in recent years, but high school classrooms and textbooks largely remain within their content silos. I’d like to think that The Invisible War might help nudge more teachers to think about the possibilities of working more across disciplines – for example, using science to help think about history, literature to think differently about science and so on.

How does your resource approach the course material in a different way to others in the market?

The Invisible War is clearly an unconventional resource. On one hand, it only covers a limited amount of science and history content. But on the other, feedback from teachers suggests that it has much greater potential to engage a broader range of students in learning than a typical textbook. As a species, we’ve learned through telling stories for thousands of years, so why not use that to our advantage in the classroom as much as possible – particularly in Science classrooms – where the content can often be difficult to bring to life…and where so many students give up trying, having decided they “don’t get it”.

We hope to see you all at the industry event of the year, held at The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne on Thursday, 20 September 2018.