With the exception of the Publisher of the Year awards, the EPAAs are peer judged. The judging panel comprises a number of experienced publishing professionals across the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors, and each year they undertake the huge task of evaluating the wealth of print, digital and blended resources submitted to each category.
There are three panels, one for each sector, and they judge independently over a three week period. On the final day, the three panels convene to decide on overall winners.
To bring in a different perspective, we also invited judges working in education to join the panel. Now that the judging process is over for 2017, we talked to two of our new educator judges to reflect on their experience:
• Secondary: Jess Sautner is a recovering microbiologist and now registered science teacher, who has coordinated several University-based STEM Outreach programs throughout Australia. Jess is keen to link schools, universities and industry together in the work that she does.
• Tertiary: Giulietta Costa works as the Educational Designer for an Education Excellence professional development program at Monash University. A key aspect of her role is the resource development (printed and digital) and she is always looking for opportunities to broaden her knowledge and keep up to date of emerging technologies and the way they are being used.
Both two judges are new to the EPAAs and are impressed by what they’ve seen during the process:
Giulietta: ‘This was my first year of judging and I was quite impressed with the quality and obvious energy and investment that have gone into the development of the resources presented.’
Jess: ‘I have been blown away with the quality of the entries in the 2017 EPAAs and a few of them have made their way onto my Christmas shopping list.’
On what would truly set a winning entry apart from the rest, our judges highlight a resource’s role in engaging and aiding students in their learning experience.
Jess commented: ‘I think definitely a resource that gives teachers a number of different ways to engage with students [will set it apart]. A resource that recognises the different ways students learn, as well as remembers first and foremost that their role is to engage and inspire students in the subject matter, and show them something they’ve never seen before, not simply to provide facts and figures for them to memorise.’
And for Guilietta: ‘The ease of my ability to submerge myself in the content. Design is the critical element for me. I don’t want to be distracted by clutter or feel lost because of poor navigation. I want to feel inspired, challenged by the resource and feel there is intuitive guidance embedded (in the case of print) or support mechanisms in place (in digital).’
The two judges also shared with us their views on the current Australian education landscape and what they thought the classroom of tomorrow would look like.

From Giulietta’s perspective: ‘I believe we are just entering a phase where we can begin to evaluate the impact of technology enhanced learning, if any, and measure the impact of learner centred design. If “tomorrow” is 2–5 years away, our learning spaces should be designed to be adaptable and allow for active learning approaches and different learner needs. If “tomorrow” is 5-10 years away … the next generation of teaching staff will need to adopt a deeper level of digital literacy – they are just not there yet.’
Jess: ‘We are immensely lucky in Australia to have the education system we have. Every child is entitled to an education with no exceptions. Every child is entitled to higher education with no exceptions. Aspects of it aren’t perfect, but there are amazing teachers and educational policy makers driving change where it’s needed. Of course, I would love to see a fairer funding model for government schools. And you only really need to look at the universities to see what a classroom of tomorrow would look like. Where I am at the moment we are focused more on collaboration and team problem-solving than lecturing. You won’t find tables and chairs pointing towards a lectern in many new classrooms. Virtual Reality (VR) Technology is taking off so quickly as systems and headsets become cheaper and faster, so if you’re in publishing that’d be the place to head next!’
Lastly, our two judges gave some tips on how Australian published educational resources can be improved and further developed to meet the future demands of students.
Giulietta: ‘I’m very passionate about accessibility and I don’t believe Australian Educational resources currently meet global standards.’
Jess: ‘I would say that educational resources need to keep right at the forefront of education research and development. Whether that’s in VR as aforementioned, or to take on a more collaborative, problem-solving approach with activities, or to look at integrated / cross-curricular resources (which the majority of current pre-service teachers at university are most likely working on right now), resource writers really need to be right there, in the thick of it, ready to go.’
Thank you to Jess, Giulietta, and to all our judges for being part of the EPAAs this year.
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