Print?

Print?

It makes me wonder once again if a group of like minded folks couldn’t do the same sort of thing with Teaching with Technology|Penn State? I think so. I’d love it.

via www.personal.psu.edu

I loved the idea of a real physical print piece focusing on teaching and learning with technology at Penn State the first time my friend and colleague Dave Stong suggested it. I just wonder if print is the right medium. Perhaps I am being too closed minded (and I am inviting anyone to tell me so) about the idea. I love the Penn State Research magazine for lots of reasons … and it honestly makes me wonder if I’d be more or less likely to read its stories in print or online. I only now even looked to see if there is an online companion and it doesn’t come close to living up to the print version. It is screaming for a digital version that makes sense and captures the same visceral feeling the print version does — I’m not sure HTML can do that.

What I wonder is if the kinds of stories we want to tell wouldn’t benefit from a more stylized monthly digital aggregate of the content we are currently producing. Jamie Oberdick in ETS does a great job producing daily content — some with companion videos and podcasts that probably wouldn’t translate to a print only format. Would we just end up with a magazine that said, “to hear more about X, visit our website at http://tlt.psu.edu?”

What I do see is the potential to reach new stakeholders. People who might want to bowled over by what we do, but don’t spend a heck of a lot of time online — especially looking for our content. We are reaching a certain percentage of the market (so to speak), but could be ignoring a whole other demographic … reaching them is a worthy goal.

In my estimation we ought to figure out how to auto create ePub versions of our content for the iPad or other ePub capable devices given where mobile reading might be going. I worry about the cost, distribution, and everything else that goes with physical printing — but given I know very little of the process I could be wrong. If we could roll our web content out the way we do online and have it move into a flexible workflow that would produce both a print and ePub version we’d be hitting a much larger percentage of people … and we’d be satisfying people across lots of dimensions of the spectrum. One thing having a regularly published print piece would give us is a long term historical artifact that could actually be stored at the Library … but at the end of the day my guess is that they would scan them and store them as PDFs. Any thoughts?


Credit Dave Stong

5 thoughts on “Print?

  1. Cole,
    Two things:
    I really miss ETS Talk. That was most certainly an outlet to promote ETS initiatives, and it was very effective. Any thoughts re: reviving that on a wider scope?
    I agree with you that print is not always the answer, but it can pull things together nicely, and also reach new sectors of your audience. I’m not sure how TLT/ETS approaches donor development, but in the Libraries (and in most other colleges too), we have a special magazine (not as shiny as what you’re thinking of) that highlights our initiatives for prospective donors. I think it is effective in communicating our projects with a different tone to a specific audience. (They just did an article on my fellowship, for example.)
    I suppose what I’m saying is that one publication may not be the answer, but through several modes of communication (including the ePub that you’re thinking of) you may be able to reach a wider variety of distinctly different audiences.

  2. Ellysa … this is exactly what I think Dave is saying — that adding a print version would open our stories up to a much wider audience. I love the Library publication as well — and I read it every time it hits my desk. The first time he brought it up I dismissed out of hand, but thinking about it in the perspective of some of the other well done print pieces across the University makes sense. I would hate to not address emerging opportunities and would hope and pray for a work flow that would allow us to get close to a “one in, all out” model where the content we put into our content management system pushes out web, print, and ePub ready opportunities.
    About ETS Talk … I loved doing that every week, but we somehow lost our mojo. I’d really like to revisit it and see if we couldn’t do something a bit more compelling … I hate to even mention This American Life in the same paragraph as our lame podcast, but if we could do something that would be more along the lines of a themed show with stories around that theme I know I’d be more motivated to invest the time. Perhaps a weekly dispatch from the Library as a segment?

  3. Is there a way to make this publication something other than a promotional material? Make it more like a real magazine? Am I way off base? I have to say I am a little confused at the moment as I am far removed from the demographic you speak of. Clarity may come over time.

  4. Brad, I am embarrassed by promotional material. What I envision is a magazine that essentially documents excellent teaching and learning with technology at Penn State. There would be no ETS focus, no TLT focus, and no ITS focus- essentially, no promotion serving as the honest promotion of excellent people. I also see it as quarterly- with three issues. The fourth quarter is devoted to the symposium; though I have no control over any of this.
    As for etsTalk, I can only say… “live audience.”

  5. I’m only a recent fan of the PSU Research publication…I have found myself reading it nearly cover to cover in one sitting (at least the last 3 issues). That is rare and unexpected if I look at my other reading habits with print, outside of novels or books I read.
    I actually went out and bought a book by Dan Shapiro that stemmed from reading the Penn State Research publication…great book so far.
    YOu might want to check out something called “The Teaching Professor”. This is more of a monthly newsletter for faculty development peeps, but it does a fantastic job of painting a high-level picture of what’s going on in the field, and basically filtering research and highlighting (with excerpts) the best stuff out there.

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