Scholarly Kitchen recently posted a piece on what scholarly publishing could learn from their trade colleagues. The focus of this post was the need for an online bookstore bringing together scholarly publishers – much like Bookish, an online store that combines the lists of Simon & Shuster, Hachette and Penguin (soon to be merged with Random House). The argument is that while it is hard to compete with Amazon (and why would you when they bring in a lot of revenue) but why not try to increase the playing field.* The author’s opinion is that there are many lessons to be learned, and perhaps most importantly is recognizing that although it might be difficult to win the race, it’s important to stay in the game.**
For those of us in educational development, the culture tends more toward sharing ideas and expertise rather than competitively trying to do do someone else or another office. Our practice grows when we share. We gain resources by seeking out colleague’s research and understanding of events and experience. The struggle is to get the word out so instructors and teaching assistants know where they can go for assistance and resources. So, the question for educational developers, then, is how do we increase our playing field? How can we create an environment where ideas, research and experience can be shared? Could we have an online community (as most teaching support offices survive under strict budgets, anything that might cost money is not too plausible) that allows for different offices from many institutions to post and share resources? Could this be something along the lines of Creative Commons? When there isn’t a revenue stream component or a single governing body it is difficult to bring together these different voices (who, let’s be honest, are already strained with projects and items on the to-do lists). However, I doubt if I speak only for myself when I say, “I wish I knew what everyone was up to….” And I like to know more than a list of accomplishments and upcoming events. Ideally, we could generate a space that is more than water cooler topics but somewhere to share, explore and expand.
* Warning: there are a lot of sports analogies in this post. Strange coming from someone who doesn’t really follow sports and who has been known, during play-offs, to which team you are voting for.
** I did warn you.