Tuesday, November 15, 2011

F.A. Davis Changing Its Name to FAD.co

Executives at the world-famous healthcare publishing company F.A. Davis announced today that the company's name will henceforth be known as FAD.co.

Fad, indeed.

I'm being fascetious, of course, F.A. Davis is not changing its name. Executives here are much too intelligent to do something so dumb. Unlike the poor folks at Overstock.com, who changed the company's name this past June to "O.co," and who have just decided to change it back to Overstock.com.

They haven't been the first. Other companies have tried to rebrand themselves, including Netflix, Hewlett-Packard, GMAC, the Gap, and Bank of America, and have failed miserably. Add Overstock to that pathetic list.

Stick with what works

In publishing, we take great effort to brand our books in the most effective way possible. Not all books get branded, of course, but many do.

Consider Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, our bestselling medical dictionary. I cannot imagine under any circumstances the company changing its name to, oh, I don't know, TCMD. Or, worse, T.

Here are other "book brands" currently under the F.A. Davis roof:

We would change the titles of these brands at great peril, I believe.

The lesson for you

The lesson for you, dear reader, is this: When a publisher has made a commitment to a series or suite of books, you can expect that particular set of products to stick around for quite some time.

You can further expect that most or all of the books in that set are successful, which should increase your trust in the brand overall. If you like one, chances are excellent that you'll like the others too.

And you can take that advice to O.co. Er, I mean, the bank.

'Killing Lincoln' and How Errors Can Sneak Into a Textbook

That pompous schmuck Bill O'Reilly and his co-author Martin Dugard are currently being raked over the journalistic coals for substantive errors in their bestselling book, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever.
Civil War experts, including a book reviewer from the official magazine of the Civil War Society, have cited at least ten errors in the book. According to an article on Salon.com, assassination author Edward Steers Jr. cites these errors and more from the book:
  • A farm where John Wilkes Booth hid after the killing was not 500 acres, as the book noted, but 217 acres.
  • The book refers to John Ford's chief carpenter as John J. Clifford. In fact, his name was Gifford.
  • Lewis Powell, the man assigned to kill secretary of state William Seward, did not speak with "an Alabama drawl," as the book notes. Powell was from Florida.

These errors to the nonhistorian might seem petty, but suppose there were similar errors in a healthcare textbook? As a healthcare expert, what would you say?

You'd probably say the same thing that Mr. Steers said about O'Reilly's book: "If all of the above sounds like nitpicking, consider this. If the authors made mistakes in names, places, and events, what else did they get wrong? How can the reader rely on anything that appears in Killing Lincoln?"

The answer is complicated.

Every book has errors

Consider this: There are errors in every book published. Every, single one.

Don't take my word for it. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read a book that didn't have at least one misspelling or punctuation error, or an odd line break where there shouldn't be one, or any other error, factual or otherwise?

I'm guessing that you've never seen such a book, and neither have I.

The same is true for textbooks. Every acquisitions editor at every healthcare publisher has published books with errors in them. From the wonderful Rhonda Dearborn at Delmar, to the fabulous Joan Gill at Pearson, to the marvelous Katey Bircher at Jones & Bartlett, we have all published books with errors.

And we all absolutely and unequivocally hate it.

Our authors hate it even more. They work so very hard to create the very best possible book, and then, after the book publishes, they find this error or that and ask, "How did that happen?"

Here's how

That Pompous Schmuck's book aside, errors can creep into a book in nearly innumerable ways, from poor copyediting to a poor author, from reviewing the same content over and over again to not looking at it enough, from technical glitches to printer error.

We publishers put into place as many safeguards as we can to prevent errors from reaching the reader, and they work nearly all the time. But then, sometimes, for inexplicable reasons, one particular book will be beset with problems and will inevitably hit the shelves with more than the usual number of errors.

I suspect that's partly what happened to That Pompous Schmuck's book. I suspect — and that's all it is, a suspicion — that part of the reason there are so many factual errors was that the fact-checking team at the publishing house (Henry Holt, a division of MacMillan) fell a bit short of its goal. It happens.

Mostly, though, I think the errors, at least the ones I've seen, were the result of the author's lack of competent research, and that's a whole 'nuther ball game. The publisher can try as it might, but it can't overcome a bad author.

So in this case, let's blame — say it with me, now — That Pompous Schmuck!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Is Your Bloom's Taxonomy Outdated?

Health care educators have been using Bloom’s taxonomy for decades to build goals and objectives. The original levels cited by Bloom inlcude — come on, recite them with me now — knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The trouble is, I keep hearing bright, competent, high-level educators still using those terms.


Yep, that’s right, the taxonomy being cited over and over again, on lesson plans and course syllabi, at faculty meetings and educational conferences — including one I just returned from — are woefully outdated.

Here, then, is a reasonably quick update on the “new” changes to Bloom’s original taxonomy.

Basic changes

Anderson and Krathwohl led an interdisciplinary team of experts in cognitive psychology, educational testing, and curriculum and instruction. The team worked to bring to Bloom’s innovative framework greater relevance to modern education.

The most obvious but perhaps least important changes that came out of that effort occurred in the language used for the levels of learning. The diagram below compares the levels in the original and revised versions.

Click to enlarge.

The revision team decided on using verbs instead of nouns to label the levels. It also did a bit of rearranging of levels to make the hierarchy more conceptually consistent.

The real changes, though, go much deeper than swapping nouns for gerunds.

Core change

The revised taxonomy restructures Bloom’s straightforward but one-dimensional language into a more complex, multi-layered one. The new taxonomy incorporates — intersects, if you will — different types of knowledge at each level of learning. Those types of knowledge include factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive (below).

Now, it’s beyond the scope of this post, not to mention my own rather limited knowledge in this area, to delve into every level and type of knowledge. I will, however, point you to some outstanding resources (listed at the bottom) that show far better than I could how much more robust and useful the revised taxonomy is than the original.

Here’s hoping that this info will help you revise your own syllabi and lesson plans to include the brandy-spanking new, nearly 12-year-old taxonomy from our dear, departed friend, Dr. Benjamin Samuel Bloom (1913–1999).


Lists of verbs for the revised taxonomy