Sunday, December 04, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 49) Revamping GED, HS Corporate Marketing, Book Blogging, Pretty Books + More

The GED test is being revamped (EdWeek):
Situating the GED as a pathway to higher education echoes its original intent. The first exams, in 1942, were envisioned as a way for returning World War II veterans to complete high school and use the GI Bill to attend college. In 1949, the first year statistics are available for nonmilitary test-takers, 39,000 people took one or more of the five sections of the test: reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. By 2010, that number had risen to 750,000.
The GED is widely used as a high-school-completion tool by those in the military and in prisons, and by dropouts who are too old for the public school system. Although one-quarter of those who take the test are 16 to 18 years old, the typical GED candidate is 26, has completed 10th grade, and has been out of school nine years, according to ACE data.

But while the test has helped thousands move forward, it is dogged by criticism that it doesn’t reflect high-school-level achievement. Officials in New York City, for instance, said last December that the passing score reflects only middle-school-level content and skills. The city is helping pilot a new, accelerated GED curriculum and accompanying supports in a subdistrict of alternative schools.

Even as the GED is overhauled, scholars continue to debate its value.
Report looks at the connection between corporatism and educating children (NonProfit Quarterly)
If you haven’t been around schools and schoolchildren recently, get ready for some stomach-wrenching corporate curricula:
  • Shell‘s “Energize your Future” curriculum, which reimagines the oil industry behemoth as a leader in alternative energy technologies.
  • American Coal Foundation’s “The United States of Energy” fourth-grade curriculum, which is quite favorable, not surprisingly, to coal mining and use.
  • Coal Education Development and Resource’s (CEDAR) curriculum, which encourages coal use and students’ participation in regional “coal fairs.”
  • Kohl’s department stores’ “Kohl’s Cares for Schools” campaign promoted awarding $500,000 to the 20 schools that got the most votes on Facebook—and everyone who voted found themselves on Kohl’s mailing lists for promotions and advertisements.
  • Education Funding Partners (EFP) is marketing to schools to sell the naming rights to school cafeterias and auditoriums to corporations such as Apple and Adidas.
Here’s the kicker for all of us in the nonprofit world. Some of the corporate marketing is cloaked in the garb of corporate charitable partnerships (for example, the Kohl’s competition). Some of the marketing is carried out by nonprofit affiliates of the corporate interests (for example, the American Coal Foundation and CEDAR, both 501(c)(3)s). And some of the corporate marketers are corporations whose partnerships for schools and other causes are often lauded as standout examples of corporate philanthropy—Microsoft, Disney, Nike, Google, etc.

Is book blogging dead is the question asked by Jacket Copy (LATimes) in response to a email blast from William Morrow:
"Message is essentially: if you don't review enough of the books we send you, in the timeframe we want you to, you're out," Rebecca Joines Schinsky tweeted Thursday. Schinsky, who writes and edits The Book Lady's Blog, is one of the leaders of the latest generation of committed book bloggers.
"Can you imagine them sending this to Horn Book or The NYTimes?" added Pam Coughlin, who blogs at MotherReader.
Many publishers enthusiastically send books to bloggers, and today's book blogger may rake in free books like leaves after a windy fall day. But it wasn't always that way.
When blogging about first began, publishers, like many other long-established businesses, looked at the form with justifiable skepticism. If just anyone could start a blog, what role could bloggers have?
Eventually, that skepticism faded. People who like to read books, it turns out, were reading things on the Internet. Those things included blogs. They included book blogs. As time passed, many early book bloggers, many of whom focused on literary titles, moved on to other things -- book reviewing, publishing short stories, writing novels, even writing for newspapers.

Two articles about beautiful books from the NYTimes:
Many new releases have design elements usually reserved for special occasions — deckle edges, colored endpapers, high-quality paper and exquisite jackets that push the creative boundaries of bookmaking. If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading.
“When people do beautiful books, they’re noticed more,” said Robert S. Miller, the publisher of Workman Publishing. “It’s like sending a thank-you note written on nice paper when we’re in an era of e-mail correspondence.”
The eagerly anticipated 925-page novel by Haruki Murakami, “1Q84,” arrived in bookstores in October wrapped in a translucent jacket with the arresting gaze of a young woman peering through. A new novel by Stephen King about the Kennedy assassination, “11/22/63,” has an intricate book jacket and, unusual for fiction, photographs inside. The paperback edition of Jay-Z’s memoir “Decoded” features a shiny gold Rorschach on the cover, and in March the front of “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller will bear an embossed helmet sculpted with punctures, cracks and texture, giving the image a 3-D effect.
And from the Guardian:
Publishers have started building their marketing strategies around form rather than content. The Everyman Library, which is coming up to the 20th anniversary of its modern relaunch, makes much of its books' elegant two-colour case stamping, silk ribbon markers and "European-style" half-round spines. In 2009, to celebrate its 80th birthday, Faber republished a collection of its classic poetry hardbacks illustrated with exquisite wood and lino cuts by contemporary artists. Not to be outdone, Penguin will next year be reissuing 100 classic novels in its revamped English Library series in what its press release describes as "readers' editions". What other sort could there be, you might wonder? The press release elaborates that these will be "books you will want to collect and share, admire and hold; books that celebrate the pure pleasure of reading". Translated into the material realm, this means cover designs that pay their respects to the classic orange spine of the original Penguin English Library, but modify its iconic "grid" in order to luxuriate in whole-cover retro prints.
It is not just the big publishing conglomerates that are paying more attention to the way their products look. Several boutique outfits have recently been established dedicated explicitly to making beautiful books. Full Circle and Unbound are just two, founded by the veteran publishing stars Liz Calder and John Mitchinson respectively. In their new incarnations as producers of exquisitely crafted books, Calder and Mitchinson spend more time than they probably ever did when they were helping to run companies including Bloomsbury and Orion pondering such arcane matters as cloth-slip covers, numbered limited editions, artwork that really is art, and paper so creamy you long to lick it.
Some other articles of interest:
Dr. Justin Marquis talks about the difference between "custom" textbooks and custom textbooks.

Richard Byrne points to an open math supplement, which reminded us that one of the benefits of using a custom text is that you can choose your own supplements from anywhere on the internet (or even create your own).

Nelly DeSa, a student, writes about the Textbook Pinch.

And finally Ken Ronkowitz at Serendipity35 asks if your students are buying the textbook...
 From the twitter:

 Thomson Reuters chief Glocer makes his exit

Save the UK's libraries? It's beyond me, admits US guru - UK -

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