21 October 08 | Chad W. Post

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.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
Writers
Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

Read More >

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

Read More >

Stealth
Stealth by Sonallah Ibrahim
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .

Read More >

Miruna, a Tale
Miruna, a Tale by Bogdan Suceavă
Reviewed by Alta Ifland

Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .

Read More >

Kamal Jann
Kamal Jann by Dominique Eddé
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .

Read More >

I Called Him Necktie
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.

Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .

Read More >

Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

Selected Stories
Selected Stories by Kjell Askildsen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .

Read More >

Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories
Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories by Stefan Zweig
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .

Read More >