How to reimagine and redesign textbooks to reach and engage students

elearningAre textbooks merging with online courses? Will textbook content increasingly be delivered in the form of digital modules that can be integrated into course learning systems? What does this mean for textbook authors and editors? How should textbook content be designed to work best in online learning environments?

Since 2009, I have been working in dual roles, and I’ve witnessed a transition that has moved faster than anyone anticipated. As a long-time development editor, and now author, in the textbook industry, I have watched a rapid transition from print to digital publishing models. Most of the major commercial textbook publishers have passed the point at which more than half of their sales revenue is coming from digital products. By no means is print dead when it comes to textbooks, but print texts certainly inhabit a changed landscape. [Read More…]

Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, I reached out to winners of the 2017 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. I had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.

This third installment in the five-part series focuses which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read More…]

For academics: What to do when your partner wails, ‘I never see you anymore!’

When you’re furrowed-brow deep in your academic project, if your partner suddenly blurts out “I never see you anymore!” it’s time to stop, look, and close your computer. After such outbursts, many of my academic clients with partners in my coaching and editing practice have found ways to manage the complaints and restore a harmonious home. Here are some of the major methods my clients have used as they pursue the (successful) productions of articles, presentations, chapters for a volume, and dissertations.

2017 TAA Council Elections – Cast Your Vote!

Twelve candidates are running for five open positions on the TAA Council, the association’s governing board. Council members serve three-year terms beginning July 1, 2017. The open positions include Vice-President/President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, and two Council positions.

Candidates include:

Vice President/President-Elect: Laura Frost, John Russo
Treasurer: Juli Saitz
Secretary: Claudia Sanchez
Council: Robert Christopherson, Dave Dillon, Cynthia Wheatley Glenn, Nancy Goldfarb, Lorraine Papazian-Boyce, Dr. Mahesh (Michael) S. Raisinghani, Janet Salmons, and Sharon Van Sell.

View candidate bios and position statements.

Join us 4/6 for the TAA webinar, ‘Screencasting for Academic Authors: How to Create Instructional Videos on a Budget’

With the rise of e-books, online learning, and mobile technology, the demand for instructional media is exploding. Textbook authors, academic authors, and instructors are being called upon to design and deliver instruction in multimedia genres like screencasts and videos. Fortunately, authors and teachers today can produce effective screencast videos without going to film school or hiring expensive professional help.

Join us Thursday, April 6 from 1-2 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, “Screencasting for Academic Authors: How to Create Instructional Media on a Budget,” and presenter Michael Greer will walk you through a sample screencast project to show how you can get started today, even if you have no experience using video editing software. The webinar will demonstrate a simple step-by-step process you can use to create an instructional screencast and offer additional resources for authors who want to learn more about designing and producing educational media. In short, this webinar offers everything you wanted to know about screencasting but were afraid to ask! 

Textbook development tip: Aim for good expository writing

The best way to ensure clarity is to write well. When editors mark passages “Not Clear,” they are not being stupid but are basing their judgments both on the perceived needs of your target audience and on standards of good expository writing. All good writing for any audience at any educational level has the same basic qualities, including clarity, concision, unity, coherence, and emphasis. Wordiness is perhaps the greatest enemy of good writing.

Bringing textbooks to life: Strategies for improving student engagement

Educator, editor and author Michael Greer, of Development by Design, shares his philosophy behind, and strategies for, developing textbooks that enhance student engagement and learning.

TAA: As an educator, editor, and author, you are passionate about bringing textbooks to life to provide more effective and engaging student learning experiences. What inspired you to analyze and rethink content delivery for textbooks and other course materials?

TAA announces 2017 Textbook Award winners

Twenty-three textbooks have been awarded 2017 Textbook Awards by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). Six textbooks received William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Awards, 10 textbooks received Textbook Excellence Awards, and seven textbooks received Most Promising New Textbook Awards.

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. The Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials.

Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants

An advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not incoming for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.

A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected.

Harness the power of habits for writing productivity

Have you ever heard a writer say – I’d really like to break my pesky writing habit? Likely not.  Writers generally agree that writing habits work: Momentum drives progress. Each day becomes easier to overcome resistance and start producing. Additionally, with regular progress, planning becomes more predictable.

Surprisingly though, despite motivation, as writers, we often know markedly little about research in habit building. In lieu of research, unhelpful myths circulate, such as: If I could just write for 21 straight days, then my habit would be in place. Thankfully, there is worthwhile research on habit building, so let’s look at a few key principles and the framework underlying any habit.