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We Are ProQuest: Amy Shaw

We Are ProQuest: ProQuest is only as successful as its staff. The ProQuest difference is people behind-the-scenes using their skills to create products and features to provide the optimal research experience from kindergarten to post-graduate to life-long learner. We Are ProQuest features profiles of some of our talented team members. Today let’s meet ProQuest Editor Amy Shaw.

What are some of your job responsibilities?

I am an Editor II in the Boca Raton, Florida, office for ProQuest’s Content Operations–Student Publishing, where I work on two products in the K-12 arena: SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary.

Vitality Contest

Amy Shaw (left) and Sales Rep. Patty Morrison look at their scores for a ProQuest Vitality exercise challenge held in the Boca Raton office in 2012.
(Credit: Christie Riegelhaupt)

My eLibrary work involves co-leading the Social Studies Team with Jim Zelli to create and maintain the Research Topic pages. Our team is a virtual team as we work out of different locations in Florida and Kentucky. (My co-lead, Jim, works out of the Louisville office.)

On the SIRS Issues Researcher side, I work with many other editors to create and maintain new Leading Issues. I oversee the issues in the following areas: civil rights and liberties; economics, business and law; and society and world politics.

What I love about creating these products are the interaction we have with our customers. Many of our new Research Topics and Leading Issues were created based on customer input from media specialists and teachers.

What do you like most about working at ProQuest?

I like ProQuest because there is no excuse to be bored working here. ProQuest is always challenging its employees to take risks, innovate and build new skills.

One way ProQuest helps employees build new skills is by providing training and development tools. For example, they offer unlimited access to an online library of training material to help anyone learn software, design and business skills. They also offer an Employee Education Assistance program that reimburses employees for tuition, lab, course registration fees and textbooks at accredited colleges, universities or technical schools.

And here is another reason I like about working at ProQuest: its culture. I read an article today about how this one major company was run into the ground because its CEO pitted employees against each other and in so doing created a culture of fear and mistrust. ProQuest is the exact opposite of this. One of the things that I enjoy here is that the atmosphere is conducive to collaboration and sharing of ideas and skills.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Every weekend, I look forward to taking sunrise beach walks with a few dear friends of mine. We walk about six miles, and then have a delicious breakfast.

I also enjoy reading anything and everything by Neil Gaiman and China Mieville and watching sci fi marathons (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Japanese monster movies), especially if there is homemade pizza involved, and most especially if it involves the kind one of my friends makes with pineapple and hot peppers.

And I like supporting my friends in music and arts by going to their plays, art exhibits and concerts.

If Only My Tree Had Legs

If Only My Tree Had Legs
By Amy Shaw

You are a published children’s book writer.  What have you published and are you working on any projects now?

I’ve published 10 talking picture books, including Who Wants to Be Friends with a Cactopus?, Moperella, and If Only My Tree Had Legs, through MeeGenius. And, currently I am collaborating on two projects: one is an early reader story with a former colleague who now lives in another state and another is a fantasy novel with a friend who lives in another country.

Tell me more about your transnational collaboration.

Last fall, I made a friend online who is currently living in Bucharest, Romania, and we are now collaborating on a novel. As he doesn’t know English well, he has to translate everything I send him into Romanian–using Google translate–before adding his parts, retranslating it back into English and sending it back to me. He does all of this on an old iPad, which–with the small keyboard–is almost as difficult as trying to type it into a phone. Because he is coming at the story from an actor’s perspective, he brings authenticity to the characters’ dialog and emotions and makes the action scenes pop.  The whole experience has been incredible–and full of challenges–for both of us, and we have become very close friends. Once we finish our novel, we are thinking of writing a story about the process we went through in creating our story.

And now, since he is helping me make my dream come true as a novelist, I want to help him make his dream come true as an actor. He is in the process of putting a play together in Bucharest, and I want to try to find sponsors for it, which is something I’ve never tried to do before. My friend and I also want to try to help with rescuing some of the estimated 60,000 stray dogs that roam Bucharest. So, if we can combine both things–the play and rescuing dogs–that would be awesome.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

If I could live anywhere, it would be Hampstead Village in London, England, because of its artistic, musical and literary associations. Authors who made their home in Hampstead include notables such as A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh), T.S. Eliot and George Orwell.  I would take a dip in the swimming ponds in the ancient parkland of Hampstead Heath, watch groundbreaking plays at the Hampstead Theatre and pay a visit to nearby Highgate Cemetery, where my all-time favorite author, Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is buried.

We Are ProQuest: Jeff Wyman

We Are ProQuest: ProQuest is only as successful as its staff. The ProQuest difference is people behind-the-scenes using their skills to create products and features to provide the optimal research experience from kindergarten to post-graduate to life-long learner. We Are ProQuest features profiles of some of our talented team members. Today let’s meet ProQuest Editor Jeff Wyman.

Joining ProQuest in March 2013, Jeff brings a different perspective to the Boca Raton editorial team. He works on everything from SIRS Issues Researcher, WebSelect and eLibrary to writing for the “Share This” blog and conducting market research. Moving to Florida in 2010 from New England, he misses cool air, cloudy skies, and snow, reiterating inclement weather is his favorite.  What else does he miss? His family and New England’s authentic fried seafood, particularly fried clams.

Jeff Wyman -- Photo credit: ProQuest Editor Jaclyn Rosansky

Jeff Wyman
Photo credit: ProQuest Editor Jaclyn Rosansky

How did you come to work at ProQuest?

It was one of life’s kismet moments. I had no immediate intention of leaving my last job, but I came across an ad online for this position.  The job description matched my personal and professional interests perfectly.

What is your educational/professional background?

I have a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from UMASS-Lowell.  I am a humanities junkie, and this degree afforded me flexibility to create my own curriculum without committing to one subject.  I have a Master of Arts in Writing and Literature from Rivier College, a small liberal arts college in Nashua, New Hampshire.  This degree helped me hone my critical thinking and writing skills.

Before this job, I spent most of my working life in health care, specifically pharmacy.  I was a pharmacy technician and a biller.  I was never passionate about health care, but the field offered flexible hours, decent pay, and forced me to work the science and math part of my brain.  Most importantly, it afforded me the ability to pay for college.

What do you like most about working at ProQuest?

This job has blurred the lines between my personal and professional life.  Time at work often doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy what I do so much.  And much of what I read on my personal time informs my work.  My personal interests and my professional life complement one another.

Do you have any unique skills you would like to share?

I have laser sharp focus, which I guess can be considered a skill!  I can work on a task for hours straight and completely lose myself in my work.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Reading, writing, running, drinking coffee, and experiencing nature.

If you weren’t working at ProQuest, what would be your dream job?

My dream job would be to make a living off of my poetry.  I’d buy a mini house in the woods and work there.  I’d read, write, guzzle coffee, pace, take long walks, and nap–but not necessarily in that order!  Oh, and I’d probably go back to school.

What changes do you foresee for the future of education and technology?

There is a lot of talk about more technology in the classroom, but I am interested in how technology and education can bridge more organically.  Simply introducing technology into the classroom without any plan or forethought has proven ineffective.  We need to apply technology in the classroom meaningfully.  I look forward to the days when technology and education are no longer discussed as two separate entities.  Technology is a tool just like pencils and textbooks were when I was in school.  Education is a philosophy.  But change is often slow and painful and always easier said than done.

What is your proudest accomplishment outside of work?

Going to college has always been a huge source of pride for me.  I stumbled when I initially went to college because I felt like I had to go, so I ended up quitting.  Once I got to a place in my life where I wanted to go, everything changed.  College has added so much meaning and depth to my life.  For one, I discovered and nurtured my poetic voice in college.  It was difficult work, but it was also the best thing I have ever done for myself personally.  There’s a lot of focus on college as career training, and that is important.  But we also need to find meaning in what we do.  If I approached college as simply a stepping stone to a good job and high pay, I would have never finished my degree.

ProQuest Editors Attend the 2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference

Be a learner first. Get uncomfortable. Rethink learning. It’s not easy. Be brave. Connect. Teach and learn in an age of abundance. Embrace your superpower. Mold self-determined learners. Adopt technology.

2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference  (Credit: Amy Shaw)

2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference
(Credit: Amy Shaw)

These were a few of the themes at the 2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference.  ProQuest’s K-12 editors listened to featured speakers, attended several of the over 150 workshops, and interacted with teachers, librarians, school administrators, and education experts from Palm Beach County, FL and beyond. The underlying theme at the conference: bridging the gap between technology and education.

ProQuest Attends the 2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference  (Credit: Jaclyn Rosansky)

ProQuest Attends the 2014 Palm Beach County Technology Conference
(Credit: Jaclyn Rosansky)

Technology continues to transform our lives, but keynote speaker Will Richardson argues that education has been too slow to respond. Education today too often resembles the educational practices of yesteryear. Richardson argues that this must change if we are to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. He believes that students should have the same access to technology at school that they have elsewhere.  But he also admits that there are multiple barriers that prevent technology from being integrated seamlessly into lesson plans.

ProQuest wants to learn from you!

What are some of the challenges you face integrating technology in the classroom?

ProQuest Editors Ilana Cohen, Jennifer Oms, Jaclyn Rosansky, and Amy Shaw contributed to this post.

Reaching Out to Customers

ProQuest values its customers. Our first priority every day is the success and happiness of our customers. This is true of employees across the company, including the K12 editorial team. To ensure that the editorial team is creating and packaging the content that customers want, editors conduct market research and reach out to customers for feedback. In the past editors have interacted with customers in various ways. Let’s take a look at some of these efforts:

Customer Contact Campaigns: Periodically Product Managers will coordinate customer contact projects where editors interview customers via phone or email and collect product feedback. The feedback gathered from these campaigns is considered when making enhancements to the product.

FETC
(Credit: 1105 Media Inc. Ed-Tech Group)

Conference Attendance: Editors attend local conferences such as the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando and the Palm Beach Technology Conference. Conference attendance affords them the opportunity to interact with customers and keep abreast of changes and innovations in the marketplace.

Social Media: Social media provides another avenue for editors to interact with customers and follow industry trends. The ProQuest Homework Central Facebook page allows customers and end users to interact with editors and product managers. Supervising editor Christie Riegelhaupt maintains the @Christie_Editor Twitter handle; follow her today!

Would you like to connect with ProQuest editors and provide feedback? Leave a comment below!