The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and authors involved in the creation and development of educational resources.
We caught up with Gregory Crocetti from Scale Free Network to talk about The Invisible War: A Tale on Two Scales, a shortlisted entry for the 2017 EPAA Reference Resource award.
For those who don’t know, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the shortlisted entry?
I’m an independent publisher. In 2007, I began a long-term collaboration with visual artist Briony Barr in the art-science collective, Scale Free Network. We now spend the bulk of our time creating science adventure stories, set on the microscopic scale.
The Invisible War is our first graphic novel, created through a highly collaborative methodology by a team of Australian artists, scientists, writers, educators and historians. The story is set in 1916, partly around the muddy trenches of WWI, and partly in the mucus-lined trenches of a nurse’s large intestine. Our main human character accidentally swallows some dysentery-causing Shigella bacteria while treating an infected patient. The story then follows their epic journey as they battle their way through her digestive system and encounter other microbes living in her gut. The unlikely micro-heroes of the story are the “bacteriophage”, alien-looking bacteria-eating viruses who battle the dysentery bacteria to save Annie’s life.
What was your motivation for developing this resource?
Microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi make up 99% of life on Earth. And while a few of these invisible creatures can cause diseases, the overwhelming majority of microbes are beneficial, and in fact essential to the continued existence of the visible 1% of life, including us humans. I find it tragic that instead of learning about the amazing things that microbes do in our world, children are instead taught about microbes as agents of disease. Given the tragedy of this situation, I felt something had to be done. And so I made it my mission to try to create educational resources that flipped the script to teach children (and hopefully also adults) about many of the marvellous things microbes do in the world around us.
Why do you think this text will be appealing for students to engage with in their students?
Our modern screen-based world is driving more and more children and young adults to seek non-traditional modes of learning. With the simultaneous high demand for video content, immediate satisfaction and a growing reluctance to read the printed word, there is less and less space for conventional textbooks. Instead, this has set the stage for hybrid modes of educational resources in the modern classroom – and I believe that graphic novels nicely combine the necessary written content with the appeal of visual storytelling.
What challenges do you think teachers face and how can this resource solve these challenges?
From the outset, we were very strategic about our target audience for The Invisible War. We got some great advice from Ingrid Purnell at the History Teachers Association of Victoria that our WWI focus would place our content around the year 9 curriculum. Adding to that, we knew our story would have lots of great links in our book to the year 9/10 (plus year 7/8) Science curriculum, along with natural links to the exploration of literature styles and context in the English curriculum at these levels. Thus, it was our hope that in the context of lean school budgets, The Invisible War would be able to function as a genuine interdisciplinary resource across Science, History and English/Literature classrooms.
With year 7–10 students notoriously the most difficult to manage in a classroom context across both primary and high school settings, we loved the challenge of designing The Invisible War to target this audience. In this context, the key is to engage as many students, as often as possible. I’m delighted to say that from my experience sitting with several classrooms across several schools (at different levels) reading The Invisible War, I can say that without exception, every student read the story from start to finish.
Why did you decide to submit The Invisible War to the EPAAs?
I believe in the power of story to deliver complex ideas. That’s why I continue to develop science adventure stories in a picture book format to teach primary school students about the varied symbiotic partnerships between microbes and larger forms of life. But I’m now also a huge believer in the educational potential of graphic novels. I grew up reading comics like Asterix and Tintin – always entertained and sometimes unsuspectingly educated.
However, my recent experience of creating within the graphic novel format and seeing the growing demand for visual learning in modern classrooms has convinced me of the importance of graphic novels in a teaching context.
Being a tiny independent publisher brings particular advantages and disadvantages. Our small size allows us to maintain creative control and quickly follow new trends and opportunities. But we also have to work really hard to cut through the noise – to compete against enormous marketing budgets and reputations of massive publishers, especially in the educational scene. Winning an EPAA would really help validate our choices to remain independent as well as our interdisciplinary approach to learning.
Good luck and all the best to Scale Free Network!
The Educational Publishing Awards are held at The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne on Wednesday, 20 September 2017.
Keep up with the latest EPAA news @EPAs_Aus or join the conversation #EPAA17.
With the exception of the Publisher of the Year awards, the EPAAs are peer judged. The judging panel comprises a number of experienced publishing professionals across the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors, and each year they undertake the huge task of evaluating the wealth of print, digital and blended resources submitted to each category.
There are three panels, one for each sector, and they judge independently over a three week period. On the final day, the three panels convene to decide on overall winners.
To bring in a different perspective, we also invited judges working in education to join the panel. Now that the judging process is over for 2017, we talked to two of our new educator judges to reflect on their experience:
• Secondary: Jess Sautner is a recovering microbiologist and now registered science teacher, who has coordinated several University-based STEM Outreach programs throughout Australia. Jess is keen to link schools, universities and industry together in the work that she does.
• Tertiary: Giulietta Costa works as the Educational Designer for an Education Excellence professional development program at Monash University. A key aspect of her role is the resource development (printed and digital) and she is always looking for opportunities to broaden her knowledge and keep up to date of emerging technologies and the way they are being used.
Both two judges are new to the EPAAs and are impressed by what they’ve seen during the process:
Giulietta: ‘This was my first year of judging and I was quite impressed with the quality and obvious energy and investment that have gone into the development of the resources presented.’
Jess: ‘I have been blown away with the quality of the entries in the 2017 EPAAs and a few of them have made their way onto my Christmas shopping list.’
On what would truly set a winning entry apart from the rest, our judges highlight a resource’s role in engaging and aiding students in their learning experience.
Jess commented: ‘I think definitely a resource that gives teachers a number of different ways to engage with students [will set it apart]. A resource that recognises the different ways students learn, as well as remembers first and foremost that their role is to engage and inspire students in the subject matter, and show them something they’ve never seen before, not simply to provide facts and figures for them to memorise.’
And for Guilietta: ‘The ease of my ability to submerge myself in the content. Design is the critical element for me. I don’t want to be distracted by clutter or feel lost because of poor navigation. I want to feel inspired, challenged by the resource and feel there is intuitive guidance embedded (in the case of print) or support mechanisms in place (in digital).’
The two judges also shared with us their views on the current Australian education landscape and what they thought the classroom of tomorrow would look like.
From Giulietta’s perspective: ‘I believe we are just entering a phase where we can begin to evaluate the impact of technology enhanced learning, if any, and measure the impact of learner centred design. If “tomorrow” is 2–5 years away, our learning spaces should be designed to be adaptable and allow for active learning approaches and different learner needs. If “tomorrow” is 5-10 years away … the next generation of teaching staff will need to adopt a deeper level of digital literacy – they are just not there yet.’
Jess: ‘We are immensely lucky in Australia to have the education system we have. Every child is entitled to an education with no exceptions. Every child is entitled to higher education with no exceptions. Aspects of it aren’t perfect, but there are amazing teachers and educational policy makers driving change where it’s needed. Of course, I would love to see a fairer funding model for government schools. And you only really need to look at the universities to see what a classroom of tomorrow would look like. Where I am at the moment we are focused more on collaboration and team problem-solving than lecturing. You won’t find tables and chairs pointing towards a lectern in many new classrooms. Virtual Reality (VR) Technology is taking off so quickly as systems and headsets become cheaper and faster, so if you’re in publishing that’d be the place to head next!’
Lastly, our two judges gave some tips on how Australian published educational resources can be improved and further developed to meet the future demands of students.
Giulietta: ‘I’m very passionate about accessibility and I don’t believe Australian Educational resources currently meet global standards.’
Jess: ‘I would say that educational resources need to keep right at the forefront of education research and development. Whether that’s in VR as aforementioned, or to take on a more collaborative, problem-solving approach with activities, or to look at integrated / cross-curricular resources (which the majority of current pre-service teachers at university are most likely working on right now), resource writers really need to be right there, in the thick of it, ready to go.’
Thank you to Jess, Giulietta, and to all our judges for being part of the EPAAs this year.
Keep up with the latest EPAA news @EPAs_Aus or join the conversation #EPAA17
It’s less than a month to the 2017 EPAAs and we’re gearing up for what will be the night of nights in the publishing world! This year we will be holding a charity raffle raising funds for CanTeen, an Australian organisation that supports young people who have or know someone with cancer. All proceeds raised will honour the passing of the late Professor Mike Horsley, the EPAAs co-founder and Chief Judge, who also suffered with cancer but dedicated his professional career to improving educational outcomes for young people.
Two fabulous prizes are up for grabs: a weekend away at the luxurious Mansion Hotel & Spa at the lovely grounds of Werribee Park AND a double season pass to Malthouse Theare, home to inventive and daring theatre productions! The winners will be drawn at the EPAAs.
Raffle tickets are $2 each or three for $5 – please bring cash and good luck!
Finally, we would like to thank our sponsors, Mansion Hotel & Spa and the Malthouse Theatre for supporting this year’s EPAAs!
Keep up with the latest EPAA news @EPAs_Aus or join the conversation #EPAA17
It’s with great pleasure we can announce the 24th Educational Publishing Awards Shortlist!
Organised by the Australian Publishers Association and generously sponsored by Copyright Agency, the prestigious annual Educational Publishing Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in this thriving Australian industry. Entries were of an exceptional standard and many thanks to our fantastic judging panel for deciding the shortlist. Finally, a big congratulations to those shortlisted!
Student Resource – Mathematics (Numeracy)
• Oxford Maths Student and Assessment Books, Oxford University Press
• Problem-solving Strategies and Skills, R.I.C. Publications
Student Resource – Arts/Science/Humanities/Social Sciences/Technologies/Health and Physical Education/Languages
• Double Helix Lessons, CSIRO Publishing in partnership with Stile Education
• The Gigantic Book of Genes, Wild Dog Books (on the Louie & Ted imprint)
• Our Stories: Sportsmanship, Black Dog Books, an imprint of Walker Books Australia
• Student Science Journals, Australian Academy of Science
Student Resource – English (Literacy, Literature, Language)
• Sound Waves Online, Firefly Education Pty Ltd
• Team Reads, Macmillan Education Australia
• The Weird and Wonderful World of Words, Wild Dog Books
• Among the Gum Trees, Australian Academy of Science
• Oxford Maths Teacher Dashboard, Oxford University Press
• PM Educational Toy Packs, Nelson Cengage
• Springboard into Comprehension Assessment, Macmillan Education Australia
There were no entries in this category. It has been replaced by the Educational Picture or Chapter Book category for 2017.
Educational Picture or Chapter Book
• Amazing Australians in Their Flying Machines, Walker Books Australia
• Circle, Walker Books Australia
• Nature Storybooks: Desert Lake, Walker Books Australia
• Welcome to Country, Black Dog Books, an imprint of Walker Books Australia
• Yong, Walker Books Australia
Adaptation (Student or Teacher Resource)
• Bug Club: Plays to Read, Pearson Australia
• Twinkl Australia, Twinkl Educational Publishing
Student Resource – Junior – Mathematics/Science
• Pearson Mathematics 2nd Edition, Pearson Australia
• Pearson Science 2nd Edition Student Books and Activity Books, Pearson Australia
• ScienceWorld for the Victorian Curriculum, Macmillan Education Australia
Student Resource – Junior – English/Humanities/Languages/Arts/Technologies/Health and Physical Education
• Health and Physical Education for the Australian Curriculum, Cambridge University Press
• Inspired English, Macmillan Education Australia
• Jacaranda Geoactive 1 and 2 NSW Australian Curriculum Geography Stage 4, 4th Edition, Jacaranda
• Oxford MyEnglish 7 to 9 Victorian Curriculum, Oxford University Press
• Pearson Geography NSW, Pearson Australia
• Practice IT for the Australian Curriculum, Cambridge University Press
Student Resource – Senior – Mathematics/Science
• Nelson Biology VCE, Nelson Cengage
• Nelson Psychology VCE, Nelson Cengage
• Nelson VCE Specialist Mathematics Units 3 & 4, Nelson Cengage
Student Resource – Senior – English/Humanities/Languages/Arts/Technologies/Health and Physical Education
• HTAV Revolutions Series, History Teachers’ Association of Victoria (HTAV)
• HTAV Twentieth Century Series, History Teachers’ Association of Victoria (HTAV)
• Key Concepts in VCE Business Management Units 1‒4, 4th Edition, Jacaranda
• Living Religion 5th Edition, Nelson Cengage
• Pearson English VCE, Pearson Australia
• Religion and Society, Nelson Cengage
• The Artful English Teacher, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)
• Geography NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Interactive Teacher Edition, Cambridge University Press
• Pearson Science 2nd Edition Teacher Companions, Pearson Australia
• A+ Study Guides for VCE, Nelson Cengage
• Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus 6th Edition, Oxford University Press
• Get Ahead in Grammar, Nelson Cengage
• The Invisible War: A Tale on Two Scales, Scale Free Network
TERTIARY AND TAFE
TAFE & Vocational Education: Teaching and Learning Resource
• The Big Picture 4th Edition, Cengage
• The Disability Support Worker 2nd Edition, Cengage
TAFE & Vocational Education: Student Resource
• Basic Building and Construction Skills 5th Edition, Cengage
• Basic Plumbing Services Skills 3rd Edition, Cengage
• Connect Master Hospitality Travel and Tourism for Certificate II to Diploma, McGraw-Hill Education
• The Road to Hospitality 4th Edition, Cengage
Tertiary (Adaptations): Student Resource
• Global Business Today, McGraw-Hill Education
• Pharmacology in Nursing: Australian and New Zealand 2nd Edition, Cengage
• Principles of Economics, McGraw-Hill Education
Tertiary (Adaptations): Teaching and Learning Resource
• Essentials of Corporate Finance 4th Edition, McGraw-Hill Education
• Understanding Research Methods for Evidence-based Practice in Health, Wiley Australia
Tertiary (Wholly Australian) Scholarly Resource
• Australia’s Welfare Wars: The Players, the Politics and the Ideologies 3rd Edition, UNSW Press
• Mia Mia Aboriginal Community Development: Fostering Cultural Security, Cambridge University Press
Tertiary (Wholly Australian) Student Resource
• Clinical Nursing Skills: An Australian Perspective, Cambridge University Press
• Healthy Ageing and Aged Care, Oxford University Press
• Spelling It Out: How Words Work and How to Teach Them, Cambridge University Press
• Teaching Language in Context 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press
• Teaching Secondary Mathematics, Cambridge University Press
Tertiary (Wholly Australian) Teaching and Learning Resource
• Company Law: An Interactive Approach, Wiley Australia
• Study Smart, Cengage, in collaboration with Smart Sparrow
We hope to see you all at the industry event of the year, held at The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne on Wednesday, 20 September 2017.
Keep up with the latest EPAA news @EPAs_Aus or join the conversation #EPAA17