Friday, September 28, 2007

Some new projects related to literacy and new technologies

It's been an interesting week in terms of becoming involved in some new projects in the general area of literacy and new technologies.

Yesterday we accepted an invitation to join the editorial review board of a very interesting new venture being spearheaded by Gail Harwisher, Cindy Selfe and colleagues.

They are proposing "a Digital Press that will specialize in online books that for the most part cannot be easily produced in print venues. Published projects will be selective and rigorously refereed, undergo a thorough process of blind peer review and extensive editorial development, and benefit from post-production review that will also help the press establish a reputation for excellence."

The goal is to accept projects that have "the same specific gravity as a book, but [that] will be both digital and multimodal in form". They will involve "innovative combinations of words, images, video, and audio." Importantly, the completed projects "will be freely accessible to institutions, scholars, and libraries."

It sounds like a venture well worth supporting.

In a similar but much smaller-scaled vein, Montclair State University has given Michele a project grant of $10,000 to develop a wiki textbook to be made freely available to students. Anyone familiar with the textbook racket knows how students are sitting ducks for $125 compulsory texts that get "new editioned" every other year, and get sold to captive audiences. Our project will involve targetting a particular text and paying members of a collective to produce an alternative text that will be available free to anyone, and that will become the course text at Montclair. The writer collective will be invited to edit the text over the first couple of years of its life, and we'll see howit goes from there.

The wiki will have two versions. One will be modifiable only by members of the athoring group. The other will be truly public, there for anyone to contribute to if they want to.

The third project is a new Australian Research Council Linkage Grant for 2008-2010 to continue work from the team's earlier work on factors associated with low female participation rates in ICT careers. Neil Anderson and Colin are the university-based members of the team, and our industry partner and fellow chief investigator is Sonja Bernhardt (Australia's first Silicon Valley Hall of Famer, and a truly talented innovative entrepreneur).

Meanwhile, another issue of the E-Learning journal has just gone to press and the following one -- which will complete 4 years of the journal's life -- is in preparation. Colleagues have been wonderful in supporting this journal, and every issue has heaps of diversity.

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