Journal of Educational Thought – Celebrating 50 Years

April 18, 2017

When I first started in my role as an Assistant PrJET 50(1)ofessor in the Werklund School of Education, one of my former professors, Dr. Ian Winchester, approached me about being a book review editor for the Journal of Educational Thought. I accepted immediately. I set to work acquiring titles and recruiting people to write book reviews for the journal.

It has been a fabulous experience so far, as I’ve had the opportunity to meet other scholars, re-connect with former students, and mentor a couple of current students, too.

Today, the editorial assistant, the fabulous Aber Abulhassn, stopped by my office with a copy of the latest issue of the journal. This issue is special for a few reasons. Firstly, I’m named as the Book Review Editor (a position previously vacant). I am thrilled about that. Secondly, I actually have a book review published in this issue, wish is lovely in a “meta” kind of way. Finally — and this is what’s most inspiring — this is volume 50, issue 1 of the journal. That’s right, this journal has been around for half a century.

Dr. Winchester’s opening editorial is “Fifty Years of the Journal of Educational Thought“. In it, he traces the history of the journal, with its origins starting at the University of Calgary. He discusses how the landscape for journals has changed and the how “this is not any easy time for journals” (p. 3), but closing on a high note by inviting readers to “raise a glass to the first fifty years” (p. 3).

I feel honoured to be part of a publication with half a century of tradition and quality. I recognize that I share a special path of those who have come before me, contributing to a long-standing publication in the field of academia.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How to use Scribd to publish your own documents online: A free, downloadable, step-by-step guide

September 2, 2013

With a new school year about to start, a great online tool for teachers and students to know about is Scribd. This online service lets you publish all kinds of documents, including:

  • Resources (like the guide I am sharing with you in this post)
  • Slide presentations
  • Digitally created books
  • Basically any document you can save in Word or .pdf format.

Here’s a preview, step-by-step, “how to” guide for you:

View this document on Scribd

To download a free copy, click on the download icon next to the word “Scribd” at the bottom of the frame. (It looks like an arrow pointing downwards.)

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Free fonts for everyone – in many languages

July 30, 2012

These sites offer a plethora of free fonts, not only for teachers, but for everyone. I have downloaded fonts from all of these sites. Sometimes the fonts are a little glitchy to install and sometimes they work very easily. For me (on a Mac) all these sites have been virus and spyware free, but as usual… take precautions when downloading anything from the Internet. What I like best about these sites is the variety. I especially like that you can download fonts for movies and TV shows such as the Disney, Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5 fonts:

Fonts2u.com

This site has fonts in English from styles ranging from ancient to futuristic. This is a multilingual site that offers fonts in Arabic, Hebrew and Thai, just to name a few

Fonts2u.com

Highfonts.com

This site offers over 300o free fonts, plus 25,000 more fonts for sale. This was the site that has the Disney font.

Highfonts.com - Sarah Eaton blog educator

FFonts.net

This site offers fonts in English and Arabic. They have both free and for-fee fonts in styles ranging from military to movies.

Ffonts Sarah Eaton blog educator

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

How to provide peer review feedback

June 6, 2012

There is no single correct way to conduct a peer review of a writer’s manuscript or submission to a journal. Every publication will have its own guidelines and standards. However, if you are brand new to reviewing a peer’s work here are some factors to consider:

Organization and structure

  • Does the work have a clearly articulated title?
  • Is the work organized and structured in a logical manner?
  • Does the manuscript contain explicit headings, making it easier for you to read?

Introduction

  • Does the introduction articulate the point of the paper?
  • Does the introduction contain key words and phrases to help readers find the paper once it is in circulation?
  • Does the introduction clearly establish the value of the paper?

The problem / context / research question

  • Does the writer provide a clearly articulated research question or problem?
  • Is this problem situated in a historical, geographical and professional context?
  • Is this question original? If this sounds like something that has been studied to death, then it is unlikely to be original. Journal articles are meant to contribute new knowledge, fresh perspectives to the ongoing dialogue in the field.

Significance of the work

  • What rationale does the writer provide for his or her work?
  • Does the writer link their manuscript to the particular journal he or she has chosen? Many writers submit manuscripts without targeting them to a particular journal or relating their manuscript to the theme or purpose of the journal. Reviewers regularly reject such articles.
  • Why should we, as readers and professionals, care about this manuscript?

Discussion and argument

  • Does the author define and develop a cogent argument?
  • Is the argument logical?
  • Does the argument influence and persuade you as a reader?
  • How sophisticated is this argument?

Conclusions

  • Has the author provided clear and succinct conclusions?
  • Are the conclusions logically linked to the introduction and the argument?
  • Has the author restated the relevance of this research, in terms of already-published literature in the field?
  • Does the conclusion highlight the significance of the author’s manuscript in the larger research and professional context?
  • Has the writer provided directions for future research or recommendations for professional practice?

References

  • Are all the references mentioned in the body of the paper cited properly in the References section at the end of the paper? (Manuscripts with missing references are almost always automatically rejected by journals.)
  • Do the references at the end of the paper meet style guide standards, such as APA or Chicago style? (Sloppy references are also cause for rejection.)

General assessment

Is this a manuscript you think is worthy of publication? Why or why not? What changes would strengthen it in order to make it suitable for publication? Provide recommendations for revision.

Your mission is to objectively examine the work as a professional and scholarly critic. This is not an exhaustive list of criteria to consider, by any means. It is a list to give the novice manuscript reviewer a place to start.

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Sharing the insanity: Confessions of a self-published writer (Part 2 of 2)

November 14, 2011

In Confessions of a Self-Published Writer (Part 1), I talked about what it was like for me to self-publish in 2002 and how self-publishing has evolved in recent years. This year, I was presented with an opportunity to share what I’ve learned in the past decade or so to help someone else.

When Alia Azim Garcia came to talk to me about publishing her book, it never occurred to me to say no. She was charged with the task of writing a textbook for Human Resources (HR) students and professionals. She had the expertise to write the book and the support of her professional peers in the Human Resources Partnership Council at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University. I had experience in publishing, technical writing, simple book design and marketing. We began to talk about how we could use our combined skill set to make her book a reality.

We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. For the past 18 months or so, a team of us have been working hard to edit, design and print her book. She worked with an editor at the university. I brought in experts in book printing that I have worked with on previous projects. All in all, our team consisted of about 15 people, some working locally and others who worked at a distance, who  each worked on different pieces of the project.

You Did What? AzimThe outcome was the successful publication of You Did What?! A Reality Check on Human Resources Practices. This book is a compilation of scenarios that Human Resource professionals are required to address on a regular basis and provides an excellent resource for training and discussion.

For me, working with a writer to help her publish her work successfully meant sharing my knowledge and expertise of almost a decade of experience publishing paperbacks and e-books to make someone else’s dream of publishing a book come true. I went from being a self-publisher to being a publisher.

As a result, Onate Press, was born. Officially, it is an imprint or a division of Eaton International Consulting Inc., the small business I’ve run for over a decade that’s dedicated to building, researching and delivering educational programs. In effect, I ended up creating a small “indie” (short for “independent”) press that publishes materials to support and are aligned with my values as a lifelong educator.

Self-publishing is fun and exhilarating. When you publish other people’s material, the idea is for them to feel the exhilaration and for you to take on the responsibility of ensuring that the details and logistics of the publication process run smoothly. I have learned that publishing other people’s work can be quite stressful, because you want the final product to be excellent quality for both you and them.

There were lighthearted aspects of the project, too. While the final print-ready copy of the book was in the hands of the printer, we had some fun and videotaped an interview to let people know about the book:

Mount Royal University and the Human Resources Partnership Council have been stellar partners in this process. They have arranged for the book to be officially launched at the 8th Annual HR Breakfast that takes place tomorrow. The breakfast, which is being held at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and is co-hosted by local TV personality, Gord Gillies of Global television, has sold out.

When you self-publish, there is a sense of solitude, of being a lone wolf in a world where others may not understand you or your vision or what you hope to achieve. Unless you are at the very top of your game (and very few self-published authors are), the idea of having your book launched at a local event hosted by a TV personality is simply not feasible. When you publish someone else’s work, working with a team of people are collectively dedicated to making the endeavour a success, the experience is completely different.

The book is now for sale as a paperback, as well as in Kindle editions through Amazon.com (U.S.A and Canada), Amazon.UK (United Kingdom), Amazon.FR (France) and Amazon.DE (Germany).

Alia is donating all of her royalites to the Human Resources Partnership Council Legacy Scholarship, which supports students studying human resources at Mount Royal University.

Doing it yourself is ruggedly exhilarating in a pioneering sort of way. Collaborating with a team brings a deeper sense of success, knowing that you have collectively worked together to achieve a bigger vision. I’m so proud of Alia… and thrilled to have been invited to play a role in her exciting launch into the world of being an author.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Vain, insane or free rein? Confessions of a self-published writer (Part 1 of 2)

November 3, 2011

Nine years ago I did something scandalous, something that caused many of my colleagues to balk and wrinkle their noses in disdain. I self-published a book.

I have worked in academia since 1994, where the pinnacle of respect comes from articles published in the most highly acclaimed peer-reviewed journals. Self-publishing anything, let alone a “how to” guide doesn’t really result in respect. In fact, it results in quiet whispers of, “Who does she think she is, publishing her own work? We’re scholars, not peddlers. It’s just so… vain!”

I remember one particularly stinging comment of a professor who said, “Anyone who self-publishes their own work clearly has more ego than intellect.” At least he had the courage to say it to my face… and I’ve never forgotten it.

I’ve always struggled with two seemingly disparate aspects of my character. One aspect is deeply curious, driven deep into research to the point of forgetting to eat, methodical and persistent, obsessed with learning, surrounded by books, and slightly susceptible to worshipping great teachers as heroes who have inspired me to be a voracious learner. That’s the scholar side.

The other side demonstrates all the classic personality traits of an entrepreneur: impulsive, headstrong, stubborn, relentless about progress and pushing the boundaries of new ways of doing things (often before I’ve considered all the risks), with a wildly creative spirit that flourishes in an environment where there are high levels of autonomy and self-determination.

When someone tells me that I can’t do something, my usual (though often unvoiced) reaction is, “Oh yeah? Watch me.”

Then I proceed to do it, come hell or high water.

I’ve run a marathon, gone “polar bearing” in Halifax harbour on New Year’s Day, done a Master’s degree in a language I didn’t really speak very well, then did a Ph.D. in a completely different field and started an educational consulting business. I’ve done these things despite the fact that at least one person told me I couldn’t do it… would never succeed. Or was it because someone told me I couldn’t do it? I’ve never really figured out which it was.

In 2002, I added “self-publishing” to that list. Very few people were self-publishing then. It was considered heinously poor form. The truth is, I couldn’t find a publisher for my book. I looked and looked. For months. No one was interested. “It won’t sell,” they said.

I didn’t want to let that stop me, so I hired an editor and a graphic designer to help me do it. Self-publishing taught me a great deal about the process of publishing a book. I still worked with an editor, a designer and a printer. My editor was relentless. Any ego I had before starting to work with her was undeniably and unapologetically crushed in the process. She reduced me to a pile of humble tired bones, pushing fingers forward on a keyboard. It was excellence or nothing. (She taught me that it’s free “rein” and not free “reign”, as I’d previously thought.) God, she was good.

I pushed myself to produce the very highest quality that I could and to learn not only about content, but also form, style and little details of the publishing process, right down to what kind of paper we would use and why.

The first edition of 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program ranked among DeMille’s Technical Books Top 10 Best sellers, reaching #1 on that Top 10 list on August 25, 2003. Now, being a best seller among technical books on a small list isn’t like being a #1 best seller on the New York Times or anything, but in its own way, it was a highlight of my career.

It was, however, a bittersweet victory. While I worked like a demon on the project, I often felt sheepish and ashamed in front of some my academic colleagues who found the whole prospect of self-publishing downright disdainful.

If you believe Wikipedia, then you might be as surprised as I was to learn that works by authors such as  e.e. cummings, Deepak Chopra, Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain were self-published. Though we need to be clear that there are thousands of people whose self-published work will never be elevated to such high regard. The fact remains that some pretty darn amazing writers went ahead and published their own work when no one else would.

Here we are in 2011, when there are 156 million public blogs in existence (as reported by  “BlogPulse”. The Nielsen Company. February 16, 2011). Today, people self-publish every day, in every corner of the world. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article about the rise of self-published books. Publisher’s Weekly reported that in 2009, 764,448 new books were either self-published or micro-published.

Suddenly, I don’t feel so alone any more.

I still struggle, on an almost daily basis with being an “academic entrepreneur”. Most of the time, I feel like I don’t fit properly into either world, and with fierce determination, I push aside the feelings in order to push forward with the work. For me, doing the work — and doing it well — has always been more important than how I feel about the work, because I rarely feel good about the work I do. No matter how good it may be, I always want to be better. It keeps me up at night… most nights, in fact.

I don’t know if e.e. cummings really did self-publish, but I do love his quote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” It takes courage to put yourself out there, to use your voice and do something a bit rash and a bit wild. People may sneer. (But then again… those same people would likely find something to sneer about anyway.)

Digital technology has democratized creativity and empowered anyone with a voice to use it. What have you done lately that is wildly creative (and even a little rebellious)? I’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve taken a creative risk and what you learned from it.

(Check out Part 2 of this post, where I talk about how I used what I’ve learned over the past nine years to help someone else launch into the world of becoming a published author.)

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


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