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Launching Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema

Image 1190
Image 1190(photo: Kristin Trethewey)

Booktype took part in this years Frankfurt Book Fair, one of the largest industry and public events dedicated to the world of books. As part of the Digital Innovation Sparks Stage events, Booktype hosted the launch of "Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema". In the weeks since, we caught up with Marita Fraser who initiated the project through UCL and Norvik Press.

She tells us how the project benefitted students as well as how the process contributes to and enhances the learning process of publishing a book.

Q: Can you describe the book that you published using Booktype?Who was involved? Why was it initiated? What was your interest in publishing these texts?

The book we published is "Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema", being an anthology of essays written by BA, MA and PhD students of Nordic Cinema at UCL, publishing through Norvik Press.

17 students were involved in the book, being 15 authors, three of which were also editors plus the Head of the Department of Scandinavian Studies and myself.

It was initiated as a test project to see what might be possible as a publishing project which could be offered to students as an "add on" subject to offer students some real world experience in publishing. Claire Thomson, the Head of Scandinavian studies felt it was a shame that excellent essays live in a filing cabinet after being written and marked and she felt there might be some value to them being given another life as a published anthology.

This project gave students the opportunity to review and reflect on their writing, and the editors an experience in peer review as well as the other aspects of a publishing project. For myself I was interested in seeing how Booktype would work as a collaborative publishing tool within the university environment, as well as the more geeky side of designing and laying out a book in html and css.

Some books made with Booktype L-R The Cryptoparty Handbook, On Turtles and Dragons and Framed Horizons: Student writing on Nordic cinema | Photo credit Kristin Trethewey

Some books made with Booktype L-R The Cryptoparty Handbook, On Turtles and Dragons and Framed Horizons: Student writing on Nordic cinema | Photo credit Kristin Trethewey


Q: Can you describe how publishing occurs at UCL. What is your understanding of the differences between educational publishing within the landscape of publishing?

At UCL publishing happens at many levels. From independent publishing houses that sit within specific departments, such as Norvik Press within The Department of Scandinavian Studies, to online open access publishing through Discovery which is initiated by the UCL Library.

Educational publishing functions as an educational and social enterprise, with a focus on sharing information and research, through, books, journals both digital and physical. Publishing is also an educational process within itself, with the development of student publishing projects such as the book we have just published on Nordic Cinema.

Q: How many people were working with Booktype on this project? How were they trained? How did they find using Booktype?

As mentioned above, 17 people worked on the project. The editors were trained with a 5 minute run-through on how Booktype works. The authors were simply emailed to create a Booktype account who then logged-in to the rough edit of the book in Booktype to edit their chapters.

I was impressed at how seamless and almost invisible Booktype was in the project. In editorial meetings we would have the book open in Booktype and "look" at the progress of the book in realtime, which was very empowering for all involved, it seemed to remove hierarchy and made the whole editing process very transparent. All the editors and authors went about editing and updating their chapters and seemed to use Bootype in a very straightforward manor. I had very few comments about the software itself, which to me seemed to reflect that is was doing a very good job of making editing a book fast and simple.

Q: How did you first come across using Booktype for this project? What made you decide to use the tool?

I first came across Booktype when researching new kinds of publishing tools. I liked the collaborative, and online aspects of the tool, as well as the fact that it created the content in an HTML container which could then be outputted to various formats. It was these qualities which led me to propose it as a tool which might be very interesting to use for a student publishing project.

Q: Do you think it was a positive learning experience for the students? Can you describe the benefits?

All of the students involved had a very positive experience.

Benefits included:being given the possibility to review and improve upon their own writing through reflection and peer review. Also being given a very transparent view on the publishing process, leaving the university with published writing and experience in editing a publication. Collaborating with other students both remotely and through the editorial board to create something that is a physical tangible thing, a book!

Q: Did you ever have any problems or set backs using Booktype?

There were a few technical issues with any kind of new software, and Booktype has them. But in working with the development team, I felt many of those issues were being addressed as we developed the project. Things such as stray html coming through cut and paste of Word documents needed to be dealt with, but it was nothing that everyone doesn't already deal with in trying to work with Word docs. My version of Chrome auto updating and no longer working with Booktype output, was not fun, but was fixed with a little bit of messing about with the settings for Chrome. I found the Booktype developers extremely helpful in trying to sort out small problems, and we were all learning from the process.

Q: How do you plan to use the tool in the future? Would you/have you recommended it to others?

We are currently looking for a new set of students to work through the process again, and produce another book of student writing on a new area of interest. Yes! I would recommend it to anyone interested in creating a transparent and collaborative publishing environment or project.

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