Summer 2020 TAA Writing Gym receives high marks, praise

Writing GymEighty authors participated in TAA’s six-week Summer 2020 Writing Gym, which was held July 20-August 31. The gym included templates for tracking writing time and developing a six-week workout plan, a TAA Writing Gym-branded writing journal, weekly inspirational emails, 6 on-demand writing classes, several writing stations that allowed participants to target specific writing areas, and a Facebook Group for networking with other gym members.

In a survey sent out after the close of the summer gym, the majority of respondents gave the gym 5 stars, and rated features like the Facebook Group and Writing Classes as Very High Quality or Quality. “I loved the writing gym. It helped me get on track with my writing. The videos and short articles helped me with goal setting, organization, writing tips, etc. I highly recommend participating in the writing gym,” said Leslie Koberna. Most respondents said they averaged 2-4 days per week of writing while participating in the gym. Said Koberna: “Most of the time, I averaged 4 days a week, but the last two weeks I worked 6 days a week on my writing:).” [Read more…]

Nominations for the 2021 Textbook Awards now open

2021 TAA Textbook AwardsNominations for the 2021 Textbook Excellence Award (“Texty”), McGuffey Longevity Award (“McGuffey”), and Most Promising New Textbook Award, will be open September 1 to November 1.

For more than 20 years, TAA has supported textbook and academic authors through these highly-recognized awards, given annually to emerging and veteran published authors in eight subject categories. [Read more…]

Reflecting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our publications

library bookshelfI’ll never forget that encounter I had with Kathy a number of years ago. Kathy and I are friends now, but I’d never met her before that moment when she introduced herself at our annual anatomy and physiology (A&P) teaching conference. She asked if I had a moment to chat about how illustrations are chosen for textbooks. As you can imagine, I love talking about the process of creating textbooks, so we stepped aside for a quick chat.

It turns out that she was chatting up as many A&P textbook authors as she could, including a few other TAA members, with a question that stemmed from her interest in diversity issues. Kathy wanted to know about the illustration process because she wanted to know why women and other groups were underrepresented. [Read more…]

The power of systematic checklists: Saving time, uncovering Easter eggs, and preventing overload

It’s 8:30 a.m.

Time to refill my mug of tea, revive my computer, and work on the ol’ textbook. I know I have a lot to do, but I feel good … at first. Then I catch a glimpse of my bloated task list and I’m immediately discouraged.

Let’s see. I still haven’t finished the manuscript for the sixth and final unit. The copyeditor is already sending batches of early chapters for my approval, the artists need corrections on drafts of new figures, the designer wants a decision on the cover photo, and a professor who uses my current edition wants more coverage of tardigrades. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I also have classes to teach, meetings to attend, and personal responsibilities that I can’t abandon. Suddenly, I’m in a tizzy. [Read more…]

Jumpstart your writing productivity this fall: Join the TAA Writing Gym

Writing GymFlex your writing muscles in the TAA Writing Gym! This 6-week work-out-on-your-own gym time will serve as your writing accountability partner as you work to achieve your writing goals. The gym is open to those writing textbooks, scholarly journal articles, and dissertations.

Here’s what previous Writing Gym participants have had to say:

“The presentations are very inspiring. Over the last two weeks, I managed to complete and submit a manuscript that I stopped working on for 3 months now and to start the outline for my textbook.” – Andrea McDonald, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Prairie View A&M University, Department of Health and Kinesiology [Read more…]

What can Learning Science teach textbook authors?

At a 2019 national sales meeting, my publisher Macmillan Learning, hosted a luncheon for textbook authors with our Learning Science team. This was my first opportunity to learn about what learning science does – their research and how findings might guide textbook organization, content and revisions as well as pedagogical approaches and application. For example, through analytics the learning science team can track where students spend their time in digital formats reflecting potential confusion, but also interest.  Their research can help determine what might be most effective for student engagement and assessment.

Here I am pleased to ask a few questions of Erin Scully, Senior Director, Learning Design & Ed Research with Macmillan Learning, to provide insights into ways learning science can augment textbook quality and influence our pedagogical approach. [Read more…]

Pedagogy Corner: How speedbumps can accelerate student learning

speedbumpsAs a textbook author, have you ever asked your students how they read your book? An inquiry into how your students read their textbooks may reveal much information that can help authors design textbooks with students in mind.

I recall when I was a college student―yes, a very long time ago―how I read a textbook chapter for a college course: I set aside at least 3 hours of undistracted time, read the entire chapter word-for-word, took copious notes, spent time examining and understanding all of the figures, and then systematically answered every single end-of-chapter question. Only after this procedure did I feel like I had a good understanding of the material. [Read more…]

Welcomed addition to my professional library: Review of ‘Guide to Making Time to Write’

Guide to Making Time to WriteThe new self-help book, Guide to Making Time to Write: 100 + Time & Productivity Management Tips for Textbooks and Academic Authors, is a welcomed addition to my professional library. My only negative comment is that I needed it thirty years ago!

Authors often have two major issues when developing a manuscript: 1) how to make it professional quality, and 2) how they will ever have time to write it. There is a myth that every author wants to write the great American novel. That is not true. What we really want is to have written the great American novel. It is hard work and takes hours of time to develop a professional quality manuscript. This is where the guide becomes my Bible. [Read more…]

Copyright, Covid, and the Virtual Classroom

CopyrightWith the fall semester fast approaching, faculty are intensively preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year, in the face of continually changing information and circumstances. A number of our higher education clients have had questions about copyright issues relating to the transition of traditional in-person classes to online or hybrid formats. We have also been reviewing software agreements for various services that allow institutions to shift more of their offerings online. Here we discuss four common issues we have encountered. Although the answers are seldom black-and-white, we thought it would be useful to share some of the questions and possible approaches to them:

1) When can copyrighted third-party materials (including text, photographs, video, and music) be used without permission or licenses in online teaching activities? Can college libraries scan and provide digital access to print reserve materials? [Read more…]

Too tired to write?

Do you often find you’re too tired to write? If so, you’re suffering from a widespread malady: Too Tired to Write Syndrome (TTWS). I know it well. Late at night, after three hours of primetime soaps/CIA adventures/sports/reality shows/80s reruns, we solemnly promise ourselves we’ll tackle our latest writing project early the next day. Or we solemnly assure ourselves, early in the new morning and jolted by a surge of caffeinated joy, we’ll write later today between 3:00 and 4:00.

But then . . . our promise to ourselves to write drowns in the rest of our lives. With all we have to do, we’re just too tired. [Read more…]