Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ANU Reporter Electronic Edition

Last night I attended the launch of the Australian national University’s ANU Reporter app. Available for Apple iPad and Google Tablets, this is a new electronic edition of the university publication first published on paper in 1970. However, I was disappointed in the print and electronic editions of the magazine, both in terms of design and content. This is essentially a dull print publication converted to a dull downloadable format. I suggest ANU should flip its publishing process, producing for the web first, with downloadable (Apps) as a second priority and then providing print editions last of all. ANU can then target readers with content they are likely to want to read.

The first paper edition of the new ANU Reporter has a grey cover and mostly grey interior, with a few pages with some muted colours. The paper edition is on heavy matt paper. The overall effect is of a dull, serious, scholarly work, perhaps worthy, but not interesting.

The App edition of the new ANU Reporter mimics the paper edition, with the same grey tones and page based layout, with just a few videos added. Unfortunately this is essentially a dull paper magazine format converted to an electronic edition, not taking advantage of the electronic features.

ANU Reporter does not appear to be available online as ordinary web pages. As a result it will be difficult to find the content with a web search and to read it on an ordinary web browser.

The layout of the magazine seems to change from article to article. This reminds me of some student produced publications, where a committee could not agree on a style.

ANU Reporter is trying to be someone thing for everyone, with articles for students, Alumni, donors and others. However, as a result it is likely to appeal to no one. When the ANU Reporter was produced on paper it was necessary to limit the size and make difficult decisions on what should be in each edition to appeal to a wide audience. But this is not necessary in the electronic age: ANU can produce any number of different electronic publications for different readers and publish them as often as needed (from every few months, to every few hours). Excerpts from those publications can be published on paper, for the few people who do not read online publications (and to impress high-net-worth donors).

Providing online and then adapting for other delivery methods is also a technique ANU is yet to adopt for teaching.I will be discussing this in "Teaching Students to Work Together Online", at ANU, 3rd September 2014

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