Last month our Publishing Services Manager, Kathryn Mitchell, and two of our Production Editors, Sarah Hemfrey and Alicia Martiello, attended the ELT Freelancers’ Awayday based at the VOCO® Oxford Spires Hotel. The event was sponsored by Oxford University Press and delegates included freelancers, publishers, media suppliers and packagers.
The Awayday is a much-valued chance to catch up with our editors, meet new contacts and connect with clients. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and listen to seminars on a wide range of topics.
The day was stitched together by some running themes and sessions on current events, alongside special sessions about how to make the most of material for the future of our industry.
Running theme: Accessibility and Inclusivity
One of the key themes to the day was about diversity, equity and inclusivity. Several talks laid the groundwork of key issues and considerations to making materials more inclusive, including
- reinforcing the importance of understanding who the end-user is going to be and how they will be using the material
- making sure new materials are as inclusive as possible by integrating diversity into the content and imagery as naturally as possible
- how to apply our understanding of making materials accessible when reversioning material for different markets and from historical projects
Here at emc design, we’ve recently had the opportunity to work on several jobs with accessibility considerations, and we are actively upskilling our teams with DEI training. We have seen an uptick in photo and illustration briefs that include preferences toward diversity, which has been brilliant to take part in.
However, this is a challenging area for the ELT publishing community to be working in, alongside all the other nuances of our industry. We know that many different territories have differing levels of accessibility requirements, despite the new EU legislation. And the challenges of converting print-first workflows into digitally accessible materials is something that publishers and packagers really need to start taking into account and discussing more openly with each other. The good news is that accessible design and content doesn’t have to be difficult and the fundamental principles of good design will get you a long way to meeting requirements and making all materials even better for everyone.
Current events: Climate change
Something we know has been playing on everyone’s mind lately is climate change and the effect of this on our lives and world. One of the talks, by Daniel Barber, was specifically around how we can rephrase material to encourage students to consider subjects from an ecological viewpoint. This linked back to the DEI theme as well, in trying to battle our unconscious biases around the effects of climate change, but in particular we were asked to look carefully at how we can approach the topic in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Charlotte Ellis from Cengage National Geographic Learning did a talk a few months ago for ELT PP and looked at how the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a great place to start in terms of looking at themes that capture both sustainability issues and the systemic link between eco-systems and society.
As an ELT community we have a duty to ensure that the materials we are working on address these issues of climate breakdown in a way that encourages global learners to understand why the climate has broken down and what we can do to play our part. As individuals and businesses we also have a part to play in making sure that our life choices are made in the best interest for the long-term sustainability of the planet. At emc design we have been making many changes over the last few years, from green energy suppliers to the chemicals we use to clean with as well as off-setting our carbon through Carbon Neutral Britain. Read more about our climate pledge here.
Special session: Benefits of using animation in ELT courses
Animation is becoming a core part of ELT courses to enhance learning and extend publishers’ digital offerings. Evie Godowski and Katie Cloutte from Tom, Dick and Debbie Productions used animation itself to show the endless possibilities of this format, including the economic, administrative and financial efficiencies using animation can have over live action video. They demonstrated ways to incorporate animation into a budget by carefully choosing how many characters and how detailed a scene needs to be; how certain art styles could help convey the atmosphere and theme of a course; and what illustrators need to keep in mind when creating artwork that will go on to be used in animation. Readying artwork for animation is something our Publishing Services team regularly need to keep in mind during commissioning and it’s reassuring to know that paying careful attention to details early in the process – such as file naming – makes a big difference to the workflow later down the line.
We have commissioned a number of animation projects for our clients and have an extensive pool of amazing animators we can call on alongside our in-house team of experts, so if this is an area you would like support with please do get in touch.
Working with our freelancers
It was great to be able to have a stand at the exhibition area which enabled us to have plenty of conversations with people we have worked with over the years but also meet new people. And the round-table discussion with other packages, suppliers and publishers was a good place to share our expectations of what great ELT freelancers can do to help us all create the best materials for learners we can.
For over 30 years, we have focused on continuing to provide our clients with high-end design and we’ve been building relationships with clients and freelancers alike to enable us to provide more end-to-end services as we continue to grow.
Our industry is constantly changing, and we must try to continue to work together with our clients and suppliers to develop best practices, efficient workflows and the high-quality, collaborative experience we all hope to enjoy when working together.
The ELT Freelancer’s Awayday continues to be a great opportunity to find an overview and discussion about the successes, challenges and changes of our industry, and this year was no different. We can’t wait to return next year!
If you are a freelance editor, author, proofreader, please do get in touch with us if you would like to be considered for upcoming projects. And ELT publishers and packagers, if you would like to discuss how we can help you transform your content into engaging and effective learning resources then please email Kathryn here.