Today we heard that news that Encyclopedia Britannica would no longer be printing its tomes…
WHY and HOW did we arrive here???
From wiktionary comes the etymology of “Standard” from Old french “estandart“ which meant “gathering place” and that’s what a standard is… the place that PEOPLE gather. For 225 some years people gathered around Encyclopedia Britannica and about 20 years ago they started gathering around Encarta, the Microsoft version of a CD-ROM encyclopedia because of a nicer price, convenience, and certainly a “cool factor” as well.
Then came along Wikipedia in the past decade and now free, crowd-sourced, international, non-commercial content is encyclopedia king, and hence the new standard to gather around, so after 244 years the Encyclopedia Britannica is no longer printing new tomes.
Again, an important question is: who determines the standard?
There was a very hard academic push against Wikipedia for awhile, but that’s evolved as the people chose it as a standard (not universities or schools or the government, not top-down).
Another, important question: why?
Convenience, Quality, Ethics, Price, and because it’s where we gathered.
Since Edulang launched its own English Standard last week, I’ve bumped up against a lot of tough and interesting discussions all over the net. Specifically, one correspondent on reddit said: “Consumers don’t decide; it’s the employers and institutions that decide which certificate they want to see.”
I mostly disagreed:
On linked-in someone said our certificate was a joke and that he could copy it “right now”.
(I have a gut feeling he didn’t actually even take a look at the test itself)
I appreciate the devil’s advocate point-of-view but I don’t think that you could copy this idea. We have PhDs who developed the material, and a team of senior engineers developing both the back office and front house design.
The investment to make even a poor copy of this is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the reality is that this is a very stiff market with big powerful educational publishers dominating it (as they have for decades now), however they’re slow to change which leaves space for smaller nimble organizations like our own to bring about a new standard.
I finished my last post with a question of whether “our democratization in fair price and convenience” was about to establish another standard in the ELT industry?. As I answered last time: I leave that up to you and to your students to decide, and hope you gather around our new offer as I think it’s a beautiful way of leveling the playing field.
Please keep me posted on the revolution Cheers, Brad