The Educational Publishing Awards of Australia were founded on celebrating innovation and research and this year those principles were put to the test. While educational publishers have deftly accelerated their digital offerings during the pandemic, the future looks set to bring more transformation in the way tertiary publishers, in particular, support educators and learning.
We recently spoke to the Higher Education product and publishing team at McGraw Hill. As winners of the Most Outstanding Tertiary Educational Resource 2020, Matthew Coxhill, Portfolio Manager of Higher Education, confirms that keeping an open mind about how to approach the business of educational publishing will be key in the near future.
The winning resource, Financial Accounting 9th, was deemed comprehensive and relevant by the judges and in our chat we found out more about the textbook’s development and the challenges the team faced bringing it to the market – all before the pandemic reared.
It’s been a big year and universities have been terribly hit. How would you say COVID has most impacted the Tertiary publishing industry?
Apart from a simple loss of revenue due to reduced enrolments, COVID-19 has accelerated trends that were already in place. That is, our industry has had to move to a more digital focus faster than would otherwise have been the case, so we are at a place now that may have taken two to three years to reach. There is also the question of student buying habits and reliance on publisher produced content. This had been in decline, but with the sudden move online traditional sources of content further lost relevance quite suddenly.
What’s been the biggest learning your company has taken on board after this year?
Probably the need to review our fundamental business models and assumptions with a view to how we can best develop and deliver content to the higher education sector. The move to digital is only a part of that. We will become more agile in how we respond to market needs, both student and lecturer.
Given the 2020 we’re experiencing, what is your approach to 2021 and the resources you plan to develop?
An open mind! Let’s not do it the way we always have done.
Your resource Financial Accounting 9th won at the Educational publishing awards this year — and was deemed the most outstanding resource in the tertiary bracket. What do you feel accounts for the win? In terms of the resources’ features, what’s McGraw Hill most proud of with it?
McGraw Hill is most proud of how the resourcebook came together with the content bringing to life material around the Australian Accounting Standards. The author, Craig Deegan, is adept at providing clarity of explanation for students in what is a complex subject and it is this that has led to the book being the leader in its market. We were also able to pull a complex project together in a remarkablyin remarkably short time, meeting the target publication date and allowing use at the start of 2020.
What or who sparked the need for an updated edition?
This text is aimed at 2nd and 3rd year, and post-grad, accounting students and must be relevant to the most recent changes to the IASB Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting and the Australian Accounting Standards. This need for currency drove the need for a new edition, together with newer topics in the discipline such as social responsibility and sustainability.
What was the process of pulling the resource together? How long did it take and how many people were involved? (trying to communicate the value of what you do here!)
A textbook like this involves a significant team. The first steps begin with the publisher commissioning extensive market research, all coordinated in house. Sales and marketing people are invaluable, as they provide names and contact details of lecturers familiar with the book who can provide feedback. After discussion with the author, a business case is put together by the publisher and presented to the company for approval. This includes the justification (market and financial) for moving ahead with the new edition. A Content Developer then works with the author to pull the book together (as well as conducting further reviews to check the changes being made are in line with the market). The manuscript is then turned into a book by a Project Editor, who works with an external designer, editor, permissions editor, typesetter, proof-reader and tech checker at different stages. There is also (these days) a considerable contribution from the digital side of the business, to ensure that the online ancillary material (eg. testbank, PowerPoints, videos) is accurate and working. All up, the process can take around 18 months depending on its complexity.
Were there any challenges in making it or promoting it?
One aspect that had an impact during production was that the permissions landscape is getting more complicated. This meant a more complex process for securing permission to use third party material, as well as more costly. In terms of the market, this is a very competitive space. With our publication date being slightly later than is ideal, our sales and marketing people had to work harder to gain interest from lecturers and to get them to delay decisions until later than normal. We provided an updated bank of Quiz questions to keep adopters on board until the new edition was ready. Having said that, these challenges were overcome effectively, and numerous new adoptions were won. Of course, this paled with the onset of COVID-19 and the challenges it brought.
What’s been the feedback from educators who are using it?
Educators are impressed by the depth of content and the approach. The additional topics have been well-received, as has been the significant digital package, and the author videos, which help to ‘demystify’ some of the content. The sudden move to wholly online delivery earlier in 2020 meant that the digital materials were even more relevant and useful than before. We are also lucky to have a widely known and respected author this work.
Have you received any feedback from student users? Is that information you are able to collect?
Historically we have had anecdotal direct student feedback. Having said that, the author’s aim with this resource package is to speak more directly to the student, explaining the how and why of financial accounting, instead of just the ‘how’. It will be interesting to see if we notice increased student engagement with the publisher.
Perspectives from Australian Indigenous peoples on topics such as the Stolen Generations, the Frontier Wars and racial stereotyping are now available to be experienced in primary school classrooms across the country through a new resource — developed in partnership with Nelson Cengage and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). The resource, titled Our Land, Our Stories, features contributions from leading Indigenous writers such as Bruce Pascoe and Lisa Fuller and incorporates stories written by children and their families from communities across Australia. The Australian Publishers Association reached out to Cengage publisher, Simone Calderwood, to learn more about the landmark series, how it was developed and its reception in the classroom.
“Our Land, Our Stories is a whole-school, primary school series that explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures. It includes rare and historically important photographs, artwork and audio-visual resources from AIATSIS’s vast collection. It comprises three sets of resources for lower, middle and upper primary. All components link explicitly to the Australian Curriculum and the Cross-Curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories and more specifically, to Country/Place, Culture and Peoples.
“The series components include: three teacher resource books, nine big books and 45 cards for each stage of lower, middle and upper primary. QR codes are included and these enable both students and educators to watch videos, see photographs and most importantly, hear language that further extends students’ understanding of a specific topic. Each teacher resource book also includes a copy of The Little Red Yellow Black book written by Bruce Pascoe and AIATSIS.
“Our Land, Our Stories was in development for about three and a half years and the idea for the series came about through AIATSIS reaching out to Nelson Cengage as they wanted to have a visible presence in the primary educational space. Nelson Cengage were thrilled to work in partnership with AIATSIS as we knew that this government organisation is the caretaker of an amazing database of significant photographs, artworks and audio visual materials that we could include in the series. We also knew that the partnership with AIATSIS would also lend authenticity to the series as they were involved in every element of its production, checking every work for accuracy and ensuring that the content was culturally appropriate and persons depicted were represented accurately.
“We wanted to create a resource that aligned with the Australian Curriculum but also enabled educators to see how the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures could be applied to every learning area in the Australian Curriculum, not just Humanities and Social Sciences. The intention of the series is to represent the voices of First Nations peoples from all across Australia, from remote, regional and urban areas, to celebrate contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and address prevailing misconceptions.
The resource is aimed at both Indigenous and non-indigenous students – for indigenous students, they can read these books and cards and see themselves reflected in the stories. For non-indigenous students, it is an opportunity for them to read about the importance of Country and cultures to First Nations peoples and to find out about the significant achievements and contributions of many Indigenous people. The teacher’s books empower educators to teach about First Nations peoples, cultures and histories with confidence and throughout the teacher’s books, the various protocols and discussion points are outlined and explored. And we haven’t shied away from those topics at the upper primary level that some educators may wish to explore with students but may not know how to do so – the books and cards look at our history from an Indigenous perspective and explore many sensitive topics.
“The writing process was an interesting one! As the publisher, I really wanted to ensure that we had a vast range of authors from all over Australia as traditionally many resources such as this have tended to focus on stories from peoples from the Northern Territory – but I wanted this series to be broader. For the lower primary big book stories, we commissioned three children and their families to write the stories and these three children come from very different places. Josie and her family are from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and myself and an AIATSIS photographer, spent a week with Josie and her family. We then travelled to a remote area in Western Australia to Yilka Country to hear Orlando’s story and finally we travelled to the Sunshine Coast and spent time with Shae and her community to hear her story.
“I also reached out to a number of different writers around the country and was thrilled that writers such as Bruce Pascoe, Professor Gary Foley, Shelley Ware, Lisa Fuller, Elder Carolyn Briggs, Professor John Maynard. Nayuka Gorrie and so many more were able to contribute to the series.
“Our Land, Our Stories has now been available for about a year and educators have embraced it wholeheartedly and often exclaim that there is nothing like it in the educational marketplace. It has been very successful as educators realise the many ways that it can be used in the classroom and the components can be used from lower to upper primary, even in secondary school classrooms.
“I feel immensely proud to have been part of this series as I truly believe it has the potential to change how people think about our history. It also enables students to understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are diverse, rich and multi-faceted. “The winning of the two EPAA awards was a wonderful acknowledgment of Our Land, Our Stories by the Australian Educational Publishing Industry!”
Australian educators and publishers last night celebrated a year of making outstanding resources for student learning across the country at the Educational Publishing Awards Australia. Twenty vital learning tools produced by local publishers and used in primary, secondary and tertiary classrooms were awarded.
Two new awards were presented this year at The Arts Centre, Melbourne. The Scholarly Non-Fiction award for a work that serves the education market, had 34 nominations and five shortlisted, with Charles Massy’s agriculture-meets-ecology tome Call of the Reed Warbler (University of Queensland Press) taking out the inaugural prize. Using his personal experience from a chemical-using farmer to a radical ecologist the judges said, “Call of the Reed Warbler exemplifies the potential of research-based writing to speak beyond the academy, enriching public discussion and, without question, the lives of its readers.”
The second new award was made in honour of Professor Mike Horsley, who co-founded the EPAAs in 1994. The award is for dedication to the educational publishing sector and was awarded to Firefly Education’s Peter Stannard, who has been serving the sector for fifty years.
Firefly Education had a good night with three trophies, including one for most outstanding primary resource for Sound Waves Foundation. The judges said this resource was innovative in harnessing sound searches and bespoke images to help students use sound for literacy development.
Other outstanding winning resources were Poems to Share II produced by AATE and Red Room Poetry for secondary, and the Clinical Placement Manual for the Diploma of Nursing 1e by Catherine Joustra and Ali Moloney published by Cengage. The judges considered Poems to Share II a uniquely designed box set of cards and praised the use of creative writing works from students alongside teachers and established poets.
Judges commented that Clinical Placement Manual for the Diploma of Nursing 1e is well-designed for student self-assessment in that its Work Experience tool practically supports students’ work placements.
For the second year in a row Publisher of the Year was awarded to PLD Literacy (primary) and Oxford University Press (secondary).
Keynote speakers of the evening were Lian Davies – principal at Whittlesea Secondary College and previous Educator Rising Star recipient – plus the Copyright Agency’s Reading Australia Fellow for a Teacher of English and Literacy, Alex Wharton, who shared about his research into the textual representation of First Nation and non-First Nation colonial experience to will inform English teaching practice.
Other speakers on the night included Member for Higgins Dr Katie Allen MP, who has authored numerous scholarly texts in the area of pediatrics, and major sponsor of the event, the Copyright Agency’s Adam Suckling.
The event was coordinated by the Schools and Education Publishing Committee and supported by the Tertiary and Professional and Scholarly and Journal Publishing committees of the Australian Publishers Association.
Special thanks to our major sponsor: The Copyright Agency, and also to sponsors: OPUS Group, Newgen KnowledgeWorks, VitalSource, ReadCloud, IndigiPrint, CQUniversity, AAP Photos and Books + Publishing.
Read the full list of winners see this page on the website.