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Posts Tagged ‘publisher

Notice from Springer.

I did not expect this email notification. It was from a publisher of a book I contributed to before I left NIE in 2014.

I tweeted this yesterday.

If memory serves me right, I submitted my share in 2013. Someone I wrote with retired and left the institute in 2014. I presume someone else had to take over what we wrote if there were edits.

If you look carefully at the screen capture, you might note the title of the book: Teacher Education in the 21st Century.

I was shaking my head (SMH in the tweet) because the publishing process took so long that whatever I wrote is probably irrelevant.

I cannot even remember what I wrote for the book. After all, it was more than three years ago.

The delicious irony made my toes laugh.

I can share a tweet instantly or ruminate on my blog drafts over a day or a week before publishing my thoughts publicly. The speed and ownership of publishing are critical to “the 21st century”.

However, sharing what we did in teacher education took years to write, vet, and publish. By the time ink was smeared on dead trees, the information was already dead or dying.

Being literate and fluent in the 21st century also means that what you share or publish does not have to be perfect. It is about being comfortable with discomfort. It is about being able to manage flux and make sense of streams of consciousness.

Books do have a place, but not on the shelf labelled “Timely Information”. They might be suitable for the shelf “Timeless Dogma”. We need more of the former in the 21st century because this is a time like no other in the past.

After reflecting on that, my toes have stopped laughing. I am SMH again.

Recently I read Death by a thousand likes: How Facebook and Twitter are killing the open web. The article highlighted the tension between publishers of content and platforms that collect or curate content.

The platforms and publishers need each other, but the article paints a picture illustrating more threat than opportunity. The publishers worry that platforms take content without attribution or payment. The platforms worry about publishers putting up walls and start co-opting publishers and feeds.

In the realm of education, this problem has been felt most in content management systems (CMS). One reason why very few people know about CMS is because the threats became real and opportunities slipped by.

The providers of CMS thought they could control both publishing and platforms by creating content in-house and providing access via proprietary platforms. However, the rest of the world moved on to open and freely available content on platforms like YouTube and publishers like, well, anyone. CMS providers failed to reinvent themselves by taking advantage of a more open system.

Educators need to be aware of this tension and two more Ps: Pedagogy and people (I refrain from using “pupils” because our kids are people, not just studying machines).

Old school pedagogy that relies on published books is no longer enough. Content is now less stable, easily goes out of date, and publishers cannot keep up. Information is readily available online and changes every minute of every day, and students need to learn how to deal with this newer standard.

The pedagogy of content delivery is insufficient. Teaching that creates contexts and provides opportunities for problem-seeking and problem-solving are more important. This sort of teaching is more difficult because it is more just-in-time and just-for-me instead of just-in-case. It is focused more on the people that matter, the learners.

Teacher preparation programmes struggle to keep up with this change and they send new, semi-adventurous teachers to a very conservative system. The recruits are assimilated to the system, their energy diluted, and very little change results, if any.

Video source

One way to break out of this pattern is for teachers to unlearn old behaviours and learn new ones. This group of parents and teachers offered these tips in the video above:

  • admit that what you do is losing relevance
  • adopt an open mind
  • learn to use new tools
  • learn from your kids and students
  • dialogue with them

These are what any good educator would do to be a learner first. They do not have to take selfies; they need to take a good, hard look at themselves.

Yesterday I reflected on the moral dilemma of playing the research game because it benefits only a few stakeholders. Today I continue with the processes of publishing research.

Most academics review articles and serve on editorial boards because it looks great on their CVs. For a few, this also provides power to lord over others by rejecting papers in the name of “objective” reviews. The same might be said of committees that determine disbursement of funds for research.

But all that is child’s play when compared to the ruse of publishers.

With one hand they pull in reviewers of journal papers for free (it is a service academics provide for one another after all). With the other, the publishers collect money by charging top dollar to libraries, organizations, and individuals who want journal collections or specific papers.

What I have reflected on is not news. In 2002, Frey compared the publishing process to prostitution. PhD Comics had an amusing take on this in 2011.


The open movement is a disruptive process that threatens the membership and rules of the game of research as currently played.

Open practice champions like Martin Weller do great work in this respect. His recent blog entry on the benefits of being open is a must-read.

Influential bodies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are insisting that research data and publications be shared with the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

A few local universities and agencies have shared some materials openly, but they are an insignificant drop in the research bucket.

Not only is the rest of published research is not so freely shared, researchers are complicit by playing to the rules set by publishers, universities, and grant bodies.

If you are not an academic, you should be morally outraged. If you are, you should reflect critically on the state of the playing field.

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