Home Page Image

In the past, the advancement in culture-based education was a good book and the peace and quiet to read it. Today, what will it take to attract the attention of students?

In today's fast-paced world with seamless borders, multiple cultures filling the airwaves, or otherwise being flooded into people's lives through various high-tech portals—people expect more than ever before from those who supply them with goods and services. At the same time, they have a shorter attention span and lower patience for things that are not suited to their own style of learning and interests.


Benefits of FHT Approach

"...thus, a higher quality of educational materials can be provided with some distinct benefits: more predictable cost, shorter production schedules, undisputed licenses and rights, and a consistently integrated "multi-media look" across various product lines."    RETURN TO INTRO


Who Says Curriculum Development is Easy?


When talented curriculum writers first contemplate the business of preparing new instructional material, they might not yet have considered the total cost to prepare the final product. The uninitiated may think that the writer's labor is the main cost, and that the tools to physically produce the work are simple (say, just a word processor). However, quality curriculum will require a host of other support services and production processes, which can quickly outweigh the writer's labor costs.

A key cost will be the graphics and the media on which the curriculum is delivered. The budget for production of original graphics and illustrations can be sizeable if the product is to be visually rich (even if limited just to print, with no multi-media rendition). In situations where the need for "hand drawn" illustrations is limited, and stock catalog photos are used (which can be rather expensive), just the pre-processing of those images into a compatible format takes effort. How much resolution and what number of colors will the publisher require? What file types?

An ambitious writer may still want to move ahead, accepting that they will have to do a lot of the labor for preparation of the graphics besides the writing of the text. One potential "cost saving" measure will be to use existing graphics. However, once the legal issues of securing permission are examined, it would take an inordinate time to confirm that they can be published or not. Even if there was a significant budget to purchase images from a Stock Photo House (which will include the license to use the images), what are the chances that they will have the appropriate images (or all in a consistent "look")?




Predictable Cost


"For-Profit" ventures like Stock Photo Houses, graphics studios, individual illustrators, printers, multi-media authoring shops, communications experts, web foundries, and others have to charge for their work, or else how can they make a living? Their usual customer base probably is the commercial advertising, publishing, and business world, which will have a budget for the products and services required to support their media and publishing efforts. A non-profit or innovative new curriculum developer may not have a budget for this. Even if they have funding, they might not have the experienced team of contractors that they will need. Thus, they will soon be wishing that someone else had already prepared, collected, and cataloged the relevant, consistent quality images and supporting data in a"digital storehouse"—for them to draw upon for the subject of interest (historical architecture, Colonial Furnishings, traditional trade & craft, for example).



    Shorter Production Schedules    

If the Digital Storehouse of relevant data exists already, the curriculum writer can better concentrate on the task of writing instead of dealing with the daunting task related to just the graphics. The writer can then focus on making sure that both the written visual parts best tell the story desired, in a way that facilitates a solid understanding on the part of the student. Otherwise, if rushed, and frustrated by the lack of appropriate supporting graphics, many compromises will soon appear necessary. It would be a loss to not be able to write the best quality product that the author is capable of, because of all of the distractions and limitations that come from other aspects of the curriculum production.




Undisputed Licenses and Access Rights


The only way to insure an undisputed license and publishing rights is if new imagery and data is collected from the primary sources still in the possessions of the original item's owners (and if similar content has not already been licensed and published). This means that instead of relying on images that are already published, or that have passed through the hands of an intermediary (such as s Stock Photo House), a photographer (or more advanced form of collection) has to go to the place of the original (house, furniture, artifact) and take new images "from scratch." This means that scanning pictures in previous publications or using licensed copies of pictures in museums does not qualify. The owner of the original physical source item must know if they have bound themselves by some licensing agreement already for that object. If there is some aspect that is not licensed already, then a new license can be made for the unencumbered aspects. Thus, if the entire contents of a Digital Storehouse were carefully assembled, such that there was no competing claims of license, then the authorized users would be able to put it to use without any worries about other factors.

Even if conflicting licensing is not an issue, many original objects are not readily accessible (physically or permission-wise). Approvals will be required just to get unimpeded access to the items of interest (scientific experiments, property that is behind locked gates, rare historical items in climate controlled storage, for instance).




Integrated "Multi-Media Look"


When trying to use the images prepared by someone else, or worse yet, where practically every image is taken by a different photographer, it is very challenging to get an integrated look to a multi-media product (or even just a printed publication). There will be so many differences in scale, lighting, color emphasis, framing, and other more stylistic and interpretive elements (like "mood" or other intangible aspects). What if on top of that there was wide divergence in resolution, color profile, format, aspect ratios, and orientation (landscape or portrait) as well? Soon it will almost seem to be easier to just get on a plane and go shoot everything over from scratch. However, most curriculum authors will not have the luxury of budget and schedule to do this, presuming that they have the equipment and the skill...and the access.

Thus, it is important that the Digital Storehouse not only be full of a wide range of imagery, and that the licenses be secured for their use, but also that they conform to a comprehensive set of standards needed to give them a consistently high quality look.

A complementary consideration is that the images and data have a long "shelf life," by being properly maintained (even if in digital form, the media needs to be protected); and that the formats are updatable as standards change. To avoid obsolescence, the resolution needs to be exceptionally high has to be as close to the unprocessed or uncompressed original image as possible. Also, the "associated records" (metadata) about the imagery (date, location, subject, photorgrapher, etc.) needs to be maintained with the imagery.




Multiple Product Lines


Multi-media products are getting easier and easier to generate than ever before. A home computer and some software is all that is needed...in theory at least. While that is fine for turning vacation photos into a nice movie with music and titles, professional productions require a distinct workflow to guarantee the best results. The workflow varies some depending upon which media and format is chosen: cinema, TV, web, or a disc. The file standards and which of the various brands of competing software used makes a significant difference in the process and the final product. Setting quality, composition, and stylistic standards for the source media and the way that it is produced also requires a comprehensive approach, reaching all the way back to the planning before a singe photographic or video imager is taken of the subject.



Copyright © 2006 Folk Heritage Trust