Our blog has a new home!

We’re really excited to announce that as part of our 25 year anniversary we have launched a brand new website!

Our new site showcases new projects and has information about us and our fantastic team, including a fun infographic about our story. We’ve added a list of our services too. As part of our new website, we have integrated our blog into it as well. This meaning you can now read our latest blog articles on our website too. However this also means we will no longer be posting on here.

So say goodbye to our old blog and hello to our new one here. We hope you like it!

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Creative Content’s Pic of the Week


Caption: El Ateneo Grand Splendid Book Store in a former theatre , Buenos Aires, Argentina

This week, we have chosen a World Book Day themed pic of the week. We’d love to know how you celebrated World Book Day yesterday and if you dressed up, what did you dress up as?

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Celebrating 25 years of design [Interview with Production Manager John]

John-office-2In the latest of our special 25-year anniversary blog posts, we interview John, our Production Manager. John joined emc back in 1998 as Mike’s first full-time employee and is still with us today.

1.  When you first joined emc, InDesign didn’t exist! In this time what have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the tools of our trade and how have these helped/hindered?

Obviously, one of the biggest changes was when we started using InDesign (I’m not old enough to remember when computers revolutionised the industry). I still remember the first time we used InDesign, it crashed and I remember thinking this is no better than Quark. When I opened it back up and it had saved all my work and I hadn’t lost a thing – it was a revelation, and we soon fell in love with InDesign (which obviously didn’t last too long as it has its own special ways of causing headaches!). Computers are always getting faster, software’s getting better and you can see that in the design work. Looking at some of the early books we’ve produced you can see the complexity of the design work increasing as the software became more sophisticated – it’s become far easier and quicker to get the ideas from your head onto the page.

I also always remember having tight deadlines and having to wait for the printer to warm up. The antagonising wait while you stood by a printer with a screen that said warming up, warming up, etc. while the clock was seemingly speeding up. Of course, these days there’s less of a problem with that as almost everything we send is sent electronically.

2. What changes in this time have you noticed that perhaps have a negative impact on production and the ability to design?

I think there’s always been something on most jobs that’s tested us, and it always seems to be something different – I guess it’s what creates the challenge. Jobs crashing, documents corrupting, computers just deciding not to work. It’s the technology that’s probably been the biggest headache overall, but we obviously rely on it so much. I think the way we work now has changed drastically since the explosion of email. Before this a job had to be handed over in one go, there was far less batching and fewer interruptions. Now we find jobs come in piecemeal, there are more queries that are spur of the moment thoughts rather than focussed – to send a letter or pick up the phone seemed to be far less throw away. I’m sure I’m guilty of this as well as it’s sometimes far too easy to ping off an email, then another, then another and before you know it you’ve lost track and some poor person on the other end has an inbox full of disjointed conversations. Of course, it has its benefits as well, and I don’t think I’d really want to go back to a time without the internet.

3. You’ve been instrumental in emc’s success so far. What have been some of your biggest highlights in growing the company to where we are today? And what have been some of your challenges/scariest moments?

Remembering back, the first job that I did that Mike didn’t change and I actually got right was a highlight (although a long while ago now)! When I started, if it wasn’t right it didn’t go out, no matter how many times it took – we still believe in this philosophy now. When we employed the next member of staff was great, it gave me someone to talk to downstairs – it was also a scary thing as well. I think most of the developments and growth have been a mixture of challenges and fear! Moving from Mike’s to the barn was really exciting. I remember working there with the office being pretty much empty, cardboard boxes everywhere and wondering what we were ever going to do with all of that space. The next thing you know we moved out – I remember looking around and wondering where all the people had come from, and how we’d actually managed to run out of space.

4. In your time so far at emc what do you think ELT publishers, in particular, have got right in that time and what do you think they’ve got wrong?

It’s hard to say what our clients have done wrong and right – I’d like to believe coming to us for design work is always a good decision. We often hear that the courses we work on do well, which always fills us with pride. I think our clients are always trying to improve the way they work. Sometimes it doesn’t always work, sometimes it does – it’s the evolving nature of the publishing industry, more so at the moment than I can remember. Our hope of what shouldn’t change is the look of the product and that design will always be important.

5. Lastly, have you seen an increase in the value of design and the skills designers bring to the table over the last few years and do you think publishers are using us to their advantage?

I’d hope that there’s always been a high value on creating beautifully designed products. It’s my belief that it’s not just the look we’re responsible for but the usability, which is where I think as a design company we add a huge amount of experience and value. I’ve always believed that design done well is engaging, but to some extent probably doesn’t get noticed by the user, whereas a bad design and poor usability will always be noticed.

For more of our ‘Celebrating 25 years’ posts see [Interview with MD Mike] and keep an eye out for upcoming posts on the emc blog.

 

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Creative Content’s Pic of the Week

BP9CWH Daffodils Daffodil Narcissus

Caption: Daffodils (Daffodil Narcissus) Credit: © Avico Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Spring is on it’s way and we’ve been seeing lots of these popping up everywhere. ELT teachers, how are you planning (if you are) to talk about Spring in the classroom?

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New Ways of Working for New Ways of Learning [Event Round-Up]

On Saturday Sophie from emc headed down to London to the beautiful Macmillan campus for MaWSIG’s conference ‘New Ways of Working for New Ways of Learning’.

The day was a real mix of practically looking at the ways in which our working practices have changed over recent years to how these have impacted the classrooms and learners we are all connected to, in some way or other.

Working smarter, not harder: the nine characteristics of the Productivity Ninja

Graham Alcott from Think Productive kicked off the day with his fantastic exploration into the messy and muddled way in which we work in ever quickening and complex teams and organisations. He also looked at the way in which we add our own stresses to this mix by heaping pressure on ourselves to be quicker, think better, do longer all of the time, which inevitably is counter-productive. Taking 9 areas he suggested small, do-able adjustments to our working patterns and ways of thinking where we could have significant, positive, impact on our work-life balance – for the long term.

Our key snippets from Graham’s talk:

View our storify of Graham’s full talk here.

Working in a digital space

ELT author Antonia Clare gave us an interesting overview of the digital space – what that means to her and us now, but also how it has changed over time. Antonia looked at the opportunities that working in this space provided us with as well as some great tools for being able to work effectively in them. What we loved about Antonia’s talk was the emphasise on collaboration and making a point to communicate effectively with each other – whether that be digitally or face to face. Here’s a few of the top tweets, but read them all here.

Looking after number one

One of the areas that often gets neglected at conferences aimed at CPD is the focus on yourself. Bev Alderson’s session was aimed to get us thinking much more about how we can look after our bodies and our minds. Bev told us some frightening statistics about the effects of sitting at your desk has on our bodies:

And then proceeded to give us a host of really simple, practical ways we can alleviate some of these effects:

And we even had time for Bev to take us through some stretches that would help keep us supple and pain free.

At the time of publishing this post Storify was down so we haven’t been able to publish the full tweets from Bev’s session, but we’ll add it as soon as it’s up and running again🙂

Writing skills for effective 21st Century materials

After lunch we then launched into a fascinating and in-depth look at the current issues facing writers when working on digital materials. Heather Buchanan and Julie Norton are both lecturers as well as ELT authors and have been pulling together research on digital pedagogy. It was by far the most comprehensive and sensible analysis of the state of the industry and we’re really looking forward to hearing more about the research at IATEFL when the next instalment will be ready. There are far too many interesting tweets from their session to list below so it’s definitely reading the full storify of tweets if this interests you, but for now here’s a few essential points:

Emerging new pedagogies: should we change the way we design classroom activities?

A joint presentation from Thom Kiddle (Director at NILE) and Kirsten Holt (Publisher for Teacher Professional Development at Macmillan and MaWSIG Event Co-ordinator) on whether we should change classroom activities given the new pedagogical implications of emerging technologies.

We ended the day (well, before we had wine courtesy of Macmillan) with the opportunity to discuss and reflect in small groups these questions:

So as you can see we crammed a huge amount into the day. And there was a lot of great discussion as well as sharing of frustrations! Sophie has also been organising MaWSIG’s next event which is the Pre Conference at IATEFL in Birmingham. This day will be delving into a lot more of the practical issues surrounding writing for digital so don’t miss it if you can be in Birmingham on Tuesday 12th April.

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Creative Content’s Pic of the Week


Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda
Credit: Andy Rouse

Wow, what a stunning image this is! How would you use this in your classroom to generate discussion and vocabulary on creativity?

 
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25 Top Pics of the Week

As photo researchers, we come across beautiful photography every day. Whether it’s stock library, specialist or editorial imagery, there’s so much content out there that sometimes it’s hard to just pass by. That’s why we dedicate our creative content series to some of the most beautiful, high impact and inspiring images. Some of our choices are purely aesthetic and some document the most topical news of today. 

As part of our 25th birthday, we have chosen 25 of our top images we have chosen as our ‘Creative Content’s Pic of the Week’ and here they are: 

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 Make sure to keep an eye out every Friday for more ‘pics of the week’.

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