The BELMA competition closed on May 4th and after a slow start, this year there were more participants than ever, 51. Only in 2012 we had 50 entries while normally the number of entries varied between 40 and 46, with an all-time low in 2010, when we had only 33 entries. It is interesting to note that the BELMA has become more recognized outside the EEPG. In 2013, 8 out of 25 participants were from outside the EEPG, this year there are 13 non EEPG members among the 27 participants.
The new categorization which affects 1 and 2 brought a much more evenly spread out distribution amongst the categories, so that the only category which is slightly underrepresented is now 4.
The BELMA jury consists of 8 members now since Preben Späth and Jana Huttova retired last year and were replaced by Julieta Savova, Professor, PhD, University Veliko Tarnovo, former Council of Europe and UNESCO expert on teacher education, textbooks evaluation expert (Bulgaria/USA)
This year, every juror will have to evaluate between 18 and 19 titles - each entry is evaluated independently by 3 jurors. Since the registration was only closed a week ago, the shortlist cannot be published before the end of July.
While almost every entry has a digital component now, the BELMA is still very much a competition in which books feature largely. A complete breakdown of how many titles were purely digital and how the different subjects are represented will be given in Frankfurt. However, it is worth noting that the influence of competencies and cross-curricula learning objectives and goals shows in the way the entries are presented and often linked with more than one subject.
The first network meeting of 2018 took place in Alfragide near Lisbon on April 19th and 20th. The venue was provided by our hosts, LeYa in their beautiful publishing house.
The meeting was attended by 24 colleagues from CET (Israel), Cornelsen (Germany), Editorial Vicens Vives (Spain), Learnetic (Poland), LeYa - our hosts (Portugal), Otava (Finland) Profil Klett (Croatia), Prosveta (Bulgaria), Ranok Publishing House (Ukraine), Sviesa (Lithuania) Systime (Denmark), Zvaigzne ABC (Latvia).
There were two keynote speakers, Dr Benedikt Model from the THM in Germany on taxonomies and Jozef Misik from Edia in the Netherlands on AI. There were lively discussions and best practice examples from the participants concerning both topics. It was very interesting to see how the publishers approach what are essentially the same issues everywhere.
A second topical strand was approval systems and quality assurance, which are both also linked to how data is kept and can be retrieved. These presentations as well as the agenda can be found here
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As always, there was also the opportunity to socialize with colleagues, exchange ideas and talk about problems and solutions, best practices, etc. And again, our hosts provided an excellent social program with a guided walking tour through Lisbon. Here are some pictures from the network meeting, ©Søren Peter Sørensen:
The second network meeting in 2018 will take place in Helsinki. The program is now online but here is a reminder. Please register as soon as possible. It is also important that this becomes a workshop rather than a presentation focussed network, so please contact me if you would like to give a short talk/presentation on your experiences. We want to have as many case studies as possible. These don't have to be elaborate presentations.
AGENDA of EEPG network meting in Helsinki (14th - 15th June)
Note: You will have to be logged in as an EEPG Member for this link to work!
This year, there won't be a 3rd network meeting but a conference open to other educational publishers as well. This will take place in Ljubljana in September (13th / 14th) and Marusa Kmet of RokusKlett, her team and I are currently preparing the agenda. We have managed to engage Katie Roden as a keynote speaker. She is a well-known content, marketing and brand strategist and her background is in educational publishing. So save the date for the September conference on Content Marketing. Venue and a contingent of rooms have been pre-booked at here.
Apart from organizing the BELMA and the network meetings, some time was spent this year assisting our members - especially in the Ukraine - with information about best practice examples of educational publishing in Europe. Just before Easter, I gave a talk in Kharkiv to educational publishers and interested educational managers on Modern Trends in Publishing Educational Literature. This talk also included a very small section on inclusion in the classroom. Anybody interested in the PDF of the talk, please contact me.
The EEPG also wrote to the Ukranian ministry of eduction about the unfair practices during the approval processes for new textbooks. This letter can also be found on the EEPG website.
Another important task we have not yet tackled is the re-launch of the EEPG website. We want to make it more modern and more visible, at the same time making it confirm to current standards.
The London Bookfair is a mayor event in the publishing industry and this year the focus was on the Baltic States. Read here about the prizes two of our members (Zvaigzne and Alma Littera, the group Sviesa belongs to) won in the international excellence awards.
There was also an interesting session entitled Educational Publishing in the Baltics: from Soviet state-sponsored textbooks to digital learning, and teaching materials in 30 years. Here's an abstract:
This year, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are celebrating the centenary of their independence. Independent statehood, however, was in all three countries reinstated short of thirty years ago. The process involved many reforms in all walks of life, education included, and necessitated the introduction of a new educational programme, new curricula, new study materials. In what way has educational publishing developed during these thirty years? What sort of an impact does technological progress have on study materials? How have schools adopted digital materials, and are schools/teachers prepared to accept and implement them? Do the current educational policies support the preparation of and transition to digital learning and teaching materials?
We are going to put the presentations on the EEPG website when we re-launch the public area, but if you are interested right now and would like more information, I am sure that the speakers, Sintija Buhanovska (Zvaigzne), Jurgita Naceviciene (Sviesa) and Marili Pärtel (Maurus) will agree for me to make their presentations available directly.
Unfortunately, the What Works? Successful Publishing Resources & Technologies for the Future Conference did not meet most people's expectations. The format and organization were quite different from previous years but the actual panel discussions and the fire side talk did not bring many new insights into what "successful strategies" could be. In addition, this was very much centred on the British market and the British school system. However, it was comforting to see that most panellists agreed on a number of points:
The minutes of the EPF meeting in Reykjavik are online in the members' section. You need to be logged in as an EEPG member for this link to work.
Please note that the next meeting will be in Berlin on 28th June and that preparation has started for the Frankfurt Book Fair open session.
As you might remember from the last AGM, two members of the management board will leave at the end of the year, due to work pressure: Carmo Correia from LeYa (Portugal) and Søren Peter Sørensen from Systime (Denmark).
The management board has approached two prospective replacements, Jurgita Nacevičienė from Sviesa (Lithuania) and Artur Dyro from Learnetics (Poland), but please do come forward if you are also interested in a position on the board now or in the future. It can be fun as well as some work!
We have just got in the draft accounts for 2017, and have made a very small profit for the first time since we started to re-model the EEPG in 2014. The final accounts will be sent before the AGM.
Please note that this year after the AGM, we will have an informal dinner (about 50 € per person) at Fleming's, right next to the fair. Please save the date: October 9th!
Here's something, I came across when checking for new "trends" in digital. Big topic? See for yourself: Top 6 Digital Transformation Trends in Education for 2018.
Eurydice has a new website, worth checking out. You will find a list of 2017 publications as well as the latest from 2018. I found the following report interesting because it touches on our topic: qualification of teachers Teaching Careers in Europe: Access, Progression and Support.
And here are some interesting resources if you are looking into the topic of inclusion:
At the end of last year, I wrote about Stephen Haggard that some of you remember from the 2016 conference in Berlin. In the mean time I have had a chance to look at his materials during the LBF and I was impressed by the quality of the material and the way it has been prepared for use in class. So, if anybody needs EFL content, please read this:
A new way for textbook publishers to acquire authentic video as a study component is on offer from Digital Learning Associates. The company (whose co-Founder Stephen Haggard was keynote speaker at EEPG's 2016 conference) makes it easy and affordable for mid-size regional publishers to gain market share through a compelling video proposition.
Curriculum-aligned instructional video is popular with today's smartphone-native learners, who watch over 60 YouTube titles a day according to Trifecta Research 2015 and most European schools today are equipped for video or can rely on pupils being able to watch at home. Up to now, bespoke commissions were the only way to acquire video assets of high educational quality. EEPG delegates told Stephen that they wanted to enhance the role for video in their titles but couldn't afford it, so DLA has developed an "off the peg" model in which publishers can choose assets from a syllabus-aligned catalogue and acquire a license just for their territories.
Stephen told EEPG: "We're spreading the cost of production over multiple territories, which means that even on modest editorial budgets, at the heart of every course unit there can be a really high quality video, with engaging authentic characters and proper alignment to the syllabus, for just 600 Euros".
DLA calls its new approach Ready to Run video, and each film licensed comes complete with a publisher pack of elements for supporting video-centred pedagogy, including teacher and student materials, and worked-through activities for blended and flipped learning design.
Acknowledging that some ministries remain conservative about school deployments of video, DLA has pushed alignment to curriculum and best practice modern pedagogy. The model allows for publishers to re-record the narration tracks - for example to include required terminology.
The first Ready to Run product line is in English Language for course starts in September 2018. There are 30 titles aligned to CEFR levels A2, B1 and B2+. The next subject area to receive this treatment will be STEM for 2019 course starts. Stephen explains that DLA favours the use of authentic video sources to bring freshness and creative energy, and to ensure media-savvy students don't feel patronised and switch off. The materials are purchased by DLA from sources such as global broadcasters and popular vloggers, and then re-edited with support from subject matter experts to create short films that support key syllabus points.
The ELT publisher offer can be viewed and sample video and resource requested here.
Trifecta Research 2015 here.
Another video production company I came across at the same time is Tellus Vision from Sweden. They have gone a different way. For a number of languages (English, French, German, Spanish), they have produced scripted and semi-scriped video content as well as a soap opera and documentaries about different subjects. For new productions, Tellus finds interested publishers in different countries, who then share the production costs and influence the content.
However, now a lot of their very nice content is not under exclusive licence any more. That means that you can buy or licence individual clips and material. See here for English.
Some of it might be a tiny bit dated, but the way it is presented, the careful control of language and the lively characters appealing to children, teenagers and some cases adults make these clips very attractive. Clips can also be bought or licensed individually. I have most of their material on DVD and can send it on. Or contact Anna Nordqvist.
Hope to see you all in Helsinki!
Berlin, May 2018