Pearson's English 4 IT = No URLs, No Web-work!!

Boy Doll by Misocrazy on flickr
When writing, even freelance, for a company whose size might just rival Rupert Murdoch's one needs to keep both eyes wide open.

Pearson is moving extremely aggressively into digital media - through sites like LiveMochaELLIS , LanguageLab and others* and in this world of I-WANT-FREE-FREE-FREE, authors may well soon find themselves with nary a penny if their materials are placed up on these sites without prior financial agreement.

Therefore the digital rights of my work had always been a top priority to lock down - I might blog and share materials for free (because u're my peeps) but writing is part of my income and rent and food must be paid for.    We live not in a Utopia.

Before the deep writing really began I expressed my concerns and an agreement was made between the Senior editor and myself that this would be dealt with separately, once the signing contract stage was entered into.

That however, was not the case, when the Pearson contract did eventually land in my inbox... More on this in the next posts on this theme.   Because...

I really have to first go backwards.

My baby has indeed been aborted, removed from its "safe" womb, :-(, but I do have to say that there were niggles and complications early on that should have warned me.   Things like stalling on providing an advance or a proper contract.   And while the issue of e-rights may have been the straw that broke the camel's back in this relationship, the day I absolutely flipped out, demanding my youthful editor be replaced with someone better qualified was when I was suddenly told I couldn't create any activities that would require the students to use their computers or the internet.

With the greatest respect, I replied, are you 404?   

No URLs, baby, I was told because, see they die.
Apparently once upon a time when they did allow URLs one of these led to a "dodgy" site.

Pearson, you see, you know the company which used to be called Longman Pearson - whích used to be Longman ...has um, um, um...  never... um, um, seen companies featured in their textbooks which have gone bankrupt post print run nor any pop stars who've popped themselves off after being the main highlight of an inane present simple exercise?

We never know what might happen to websites like wikipedia, duck-duck-go, Linkedin!
But that's all irrelevant, to be honest.  The "ruling" might have merit in a book aimed at general learners, but

according to the senior editor I complained to (begged for assistance),
(insert a quite proper but patronizing British accent)
while he impatiently swatted away my concern,  apparently

English for IT  

will be used to learn English by 
some people 
who don't have 
access to computers.   



You couldn't make this sheeeeeeet up.

*More on Pearson's digital empire
TechCrunch:  Digital Joint Venture Nokia and Pearson
Bookseller:  Pearson buys WallStreet Institute
Financial Times: Pearson's digital growth
Telegraph: Keep hold of Pearson as it goes for online expansion

UN declares access to the internet a human right

When I refer to the editors, in order to protect their digital footprints I am not mentioning their names.  As upset as I am I don't want to hurt anyone on a personal level - however the handling of this project was not  professional and at the very least some of the posts within this series may well serve as a list of things to watch-out for to those entering the profession of ELT writing.   

However, by not mentioning names it also puts me in a slightly difficult position as while I have strong criticisms of some of the editorial team, I also want to be very clear that the series editor of this project is in particular someone I have a deep admiration for and I was very grateful for his red pen which bloodied my textbook's content outline until we reached an agreement and had gotten it "right".  Thanks, D.

7 Responses to “Pearson's English 4 IT = No URLs, No Web-work!!”

  • TeflSecretagent says:
    July 29, 2011

    wow, that is crazy :)

    but that's the problem with mammoth companies like Pearson - things go backward and against reason more often than things go forward!

    July 30, 2011

    Hey TSA, thanks! Yes, you're right. I mean I really thought it was just a "blond" moment. The fact they dug their heels in even in our final conversation, on this issue was like living in an alternative universe.

    The fact is though, despite fighting against this sheer ignorance of their target market, in the end I did succumb and added these sorts of activities not within the core text but as "extras" or things for the teachers' book.

    Sometimes people in large companies get so set in their ways, they can't see the wood for the trees.


  • Jeremy Day says:
    July 30, 2011

    Hi Karenne

    Uff ... makes me very glad I'm not your editor (or ex-editor)!

    It's a real shame - I was looking forward to seeing your course. And after the all the work / effort / energy you put in, it'd be really sad if the course never saw the light of day. As I'm sure you discovered, writing a book is exhausting, not just in terms of the sheer number of hours, but also in terms of the emotions you go through.

    Anyway, I really hope you'll find a way somehow of getting your course out there - and generating a decent return on all that investment. Let me know if I can help with that in any way.



    July 30, 2011

    Thank you Jeremy, yes you are right - there are so many emotions that go into creating a text, it becomes a baby, so I do feel a bit like I have just had an unwanted abortion... so many hours - not just writing but in things like going over and spending an entire afternoon watching a friend play computer games then recording what he said/ how acted in order to access and capture the "authentic" language of gaming... I dunno, on the one hand I am so relieved to have it all over, on the other hand I am so frustrated and angry, I asked for another editor as soon as I saw there was a problem...

    I might need your help, indeed, if I turn it into an e-book then there are so many things to consider - it's not a case of making it into a powerpoint or pdf - it does need editing, design, permissions etc etc etc

    Talk soon once I calm down and can see the future a bit more clearly.

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    July 30, 2011

    How very weird. There's a fine, principled selection of URLs in Dudeney/Hockly How to Teach English with Technology, from Pearson.

    July 30, 2011

    Yup, I think perhaps they had a different editor?

    Trust me, I spent hours in internet statistics especially for their "anticipated" core market - linked them to GoogleDataExplorer showing the the change in computer purchases, found data from numerous computer companies on acquistions made...

    they would not budge. They scoffed. :-(

    I said for the countries were computers might be too expensive, handheld devices exist but they said "schools don't allow these." It was the worst of battles and to be honest, they still disagree with me.

  • Sloth says:
    November 22, 2011

    I have a free course available to learn English for IT at There are over 9,000 registered users.


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