This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. (And this is one of the most serious ones I wrote.)
Today’s EPP (Educational Publishing Pavilion) panel on “Global Innovations and Market Opportunites,” blended together two of the primary focuses running throughout this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair events: educational publishing and digital initiatives. (I’ll be writing about a number of e-publishing panels later this week . . .) This particular panel featured three CEOs who are utilizing emerging technologies to improve the educational content they’re producing.
The event opened with an intro by Dr. Hugh Roome from Scholastic International in which he pointed to four key markets that will become more and more important to educational publishers over the next five years: 1) developing online courses and materials for a variety of students, both in traditional schools and those being home-schooled, 2) English language training for the world, 3) school-to-work programs to teach immediately relevant skills, and 4) working with Ministries of Education in developing countries to incorporate solid, inexpensive educational programs into their poorer schools.
Each of the panelists presented a new technology (or new way to use technology) that would assist in the creation of educational materials designed to reach one of the markets/opportunities Dr. Roome mentioned.
Sudhir Singh Dungarpur from Q2A Media (Hall 8.0 J 954) presented information about the “Interactive Whiteboard,” a multimedia enhanced whiteboard that can be used in classrooms to better engage and interact with students. Although he didn’t have a whiteboard there (it is on display at their stand, which is (Hall 8.0 J 954), it sounded pretty cool. Teachers can edit and load lessons that contain a variety of flash media, learning quizzes, and other interactive activities, encouraging students to “do” things in class. (This “doing” was very important to Sudhir–according to a study he cited, we remember 10% of what we read, 30 per cent of what we say, and 90 per cent of what we see, say, and do. It was interesting, although scary to me, how visual-heavy these new teaching technologies are. Books are being replaced in schools by podcasts and flash animation . . . though if it helps kids learn, it’s definitely a good thing.) The first phase of this project is ready to be deployed, and over 300 schools in Europe will be using these in the near future. And apparently, American schools are receiving large grants to purchase these as well. Of all three presentations, this seemed like the most game-changing technology, altering the way classes can be taught.
The DNL e-book format was the focus of Adam Schmidt’s (DNAML Pty. Ltd., 8.0 L 977) presentation. DNL is a particular e-book format that works on PCs and will soon be Mac-compatible. At this time, it wouldn’t really work with an e-reader because it too is very media/flash heavy. (Maybe in the future . . . It would seem to make most sense to have these books available on iPhones. . . .) The format was pretty nice, contained all the bells and whistles you might expect, and was DRM protected on their server. (This was a huge selling point of his, something that helped his pitch with HarperCollins, but something that I’m personally not keen on. Kids illegally download math books is the least of our problems . . . Kidding of course.) You can also buy the book within the book, which is a very cool function. There wasn’t much info about how easy/difficult it is to create these books, which would’ve been interesting to find out about, especially in contrast to Sophie, a free, very usuable e-book programme.
Finally, Rachelle Cracchiolo from Teacher Created Materials in California (Hall 8.0 O 907) talked about the immense popularity of the podcasts they’ve made available on their website. Although they’ve mainly used these as a marketing tool, she saw a huge growth possibility in providing English as a Second Language content and materials for staff development and teacher training. The basic message: people dig iPods and are willing to listen to things they normally wouldn’t find the time to read and study. Sort of co-opting the Apple cool for educational purposes–not a new idea, but one that could be implemented more widely and in more situations.
Although I’m a trade publisher who loves fiction, this panel was interesting to me in the way it demonstrated how different types of publishers are preparing for the future of publishing and learning.
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .