You know how it is … you have an idea that just won’t go away. About a year ago (January 2014) I had an idea for a third book: a follow-up to my ‘what is a Learning Technologist?‘ eBook. I wanted to continue my exploration of my role and the community of learning professionals I find myself interacting with online and in person.
But, let’s face it, you’ve probably heard enough about me. So I toyed with the idea of seeing if anyone would write it with me. After a while I figured there wasn’t one person I’d want to write it with, but a whole series of active, engaging, and trusted people who have something to add and share to the conversation. Then came the difficult (and it was very difficult) choice of who, out of this much much wider range of people to approach.
So, how did I plan and execute this massive project then? Well, firstly I had no idea how big or tiring or wonderful the experience would be. I used a multitude of tools and approaches to inviting, collection, collating, writing, designing, marketing, and generally getting this project to market and completed.
- I won’t write about the physical process of editing and publishing and the various trials and tribulations involved, as I’ve written about it before. Please head on over to my old post written after my first two book: ‘Writing an eBook: Lessons learned on how, where, and why’. I will say one thing though, it is very much more complicated when you’re producing the same content for two different platforms (electronic and paper) as the Word file do (despite what anyone may tell you) need to be completely different formatting. It’s fine, so long as you don’t need to make any more edits … if you do, you have to do it twice!
The key to the project, as I mention in the final chapter / post-script was that the finished product, the book, was formed by the process of writing itself. I knew who I wanted involved, and I knew what I ‘hoped’ the book would be about, but I did not direct any authors on content or writing style. I am so hugely impressed that there are themes that have formed that can be read through the whole book, through each chapter … all credit to the authors who managed to do this without even realising!
I set up a folder in Google Docs and invited everyone to it. I created a document for each author that they could use to write their chapter (although most chose to do the writing in private and coy-and-paste- the final version here later).
Also in the Google Docs folder were a series of files that I used to plan and inform the team – all about communication and planning the project. I wanted everyone involved to have an input, if they wanted, to help steer the final product – yes, I could have used my ‘editor’ and ‘publisher’ position to do this, but that wouldn’t necessarily have produced a worthy product that my peers and colleagues would want to either read or be involved in.
It was through this process of openness that many important decisions were made, ranging from the actual name of the book (I deliberately didn’t force a name on this, but instead asked for suggestions) as well as timing for publication and pricing. The name of The Really Useful #EdtechBook was proposed at the start, more of a ‘holding’ name than anything else, but it stuck and soon became the call-to-arms of the writing styles and approaches to the individual authors.
Three factors helped me decide to include the hashtag in the title:
- We are all connected: in some case I’ve only connected ‘virtually’ with some of the authors, with others it was an online connection that we’ve made ‘real’ at various events. The hashtag represents this connected world we learning-technology-people reside in.
- A title like The Really Useful Educational Technology Book was to long and, well, naff.
- The title has it’s own marketing department already in build. If anyone posts or tweets and uses the full title, on any of their networks, it’s quite easy to find, read, and RT! It also demonstrates a shift in marketing and publishing, where much of it is now online where hashtags and trends and communities grow and prosper. Including the hashtag enables and embraces this shift.
Actually working on the editing and publishing side of the book needed us to be able to to share files. Using shared folders in Dropbox I shared images, Word files, PDFs, ePUB, MOBI, etc. among other things. I also used this to ensure that I had access to my files on which machine I ended up working on, and to be sure I didn’t loose anything if USBs got lost or other such mishaps.
I had an idea for the cover, based on a few styles of artwork I’d seen. Through work the name of a colleagues wife came up in conversation so we had an email exchange and the cover was sent across, pretty much as you see it now! Either Claire Riley is really good at interpreting my garbled notes or she is truly a gifted artist (definitely gifted).
Note: There’s much much more on the back cover .. which you’ll only see if you get the printed copy (hint hint)!
I wanted to try and build a community around the project, as well as build a sense of anticipation and marketing for the eventual launch (January 28, 2015). I invited the authors to participate in a series of ‘interviews’, conducted for the most part through the Google Docs again. I started each interview with the same question – “How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life? ” – we we took it from there. Each interview takes very different directions to the others, based on the individual and their response to this first question.
Read the interviews here:
- Sue Beckingham
- Wayne Barry
- Peter Reed
- Rachel Challen
- Sharon Flynn
- David Walker and Sheila MacNiell
- Terese Bird
- Julie Wedgwood
The book was also sent to a few interested and key people for advance review (and comments). Thanks to Steve Wheeler, Maren Deepwell, Chris Rowell, Chrissi Nerantzi, Helen Blunden, and Neil Withnell.
The links below are where you can currently purchase the eBook or paper copy from:
The individual chapters have come about from a simple, and short invitation to the book. The request/instruction … write about your experiences in, and with, technology for learning:
- Wayne Barry: “…and what do you do?”: Can we explain the unexplainable?
- Zak Mensah: “Why do we do what we do?”
- Peter Reed: “The structure and roles of Learning Technologists within Higher Education Institutions”
- Rachel Challen: “Learning Technologists as agents of change? Blending policy and creativity”
- Julie Wedgwood: “Developing the skills and knowledge of a Learning Technologist”
- Dr David Walker and Sheila MacNeill: “Learning Technologist as Digital Pedagogue”
- Lesley Price: “Times they are a changing …or not?”
- Sue Beckingham: “The Blended Professional: Jack of all Trades and Master of Some?”
- Julian Stodd: “How gadgets help us learn”
- Terese Bird: “Students Leading the Way in Mobile Learning Innovation”
- Inge de Waard: “Tech Dandy, or the Art of Leisure Learning”
- Sharon Flynn: “Learning Technologists: changing the culture or preaching to the converted?”
- Mike McSharry: “This is your five-minute warning!”
So, how can you see more of the world that surrounds the book? Try these links below:
- Book Reviews: #EdTechBook reviews
- Engagement: Twitter #EdTechBook Hashtag
- Images: Flickr Album
- Community: Google+ Community
- Global community: Google Map (for PDF downloads)
- Slides: SlideShare deck (below)
I’m sure there is so much I’ve left out of the whole process, but it’s the stuff I’ve been doing daily for 8+ months that it’s all part and parcel of my daily routine.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book. I finished the book with a short ‘post-script’ chapter …
“Without this book perhaps some of these stories may never have seen the light of day? I am certain there are many more stories out there that not only highlight what we’re missing or doing wrong or don’t understand properly, just as there are numerous examples of what we are doing right, where we have made a difference in just one child or one class or one school.
“Please share your stories. With me. With each other. With anyone who’ll listen.
“Use the #EdTechBook hashtag on social networks, with your Personal Learning Network (PLN), on your blog, or even on someone else’s blog. This book isn’t the start of anything new … but it could be a further catalyst to improve the use of technology for learning (all aspects of learning, in all possible locations), to highlight ‘bad’ practices and to investigate new ones.”
Please also leave a comment or review on the page where you bought or downloaded this book from. This is one small step that will bring the #EdTechBook community to the attention of your PLN and your peers. The next is, as I’ve already said, to share your story. Do it!”