Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TR Press Release: Treering Earns Tech & Learning’s 2010 Award Of Excellence

Treering Earns Tech & Learning’s 2010 Award Of Excellence

Redwood City, CA –November 24, 2010 - TreeRing Corporation, a company that creates yearbooks for the Internet generation, today announced that it won Tech & Learning’s 2010 Award of Excellence for its customizable yearbook product.  Tech & Learning magazine annually names the best education technology products as winners in its prestigious 28-year-old recognition program. A panel of more than 30 educators, who tested more than 140 entries, chose the winners.

Tech & Learning's Awards of Excellence program has been recognizing outstanding education technology products for nearly three decades. With a solid reputation in the industry as a long-standing, high-quality program, the AOE recognizes both the "best of the best" and creative new offerings that help educators in the business of teaching, training and managing with technology. All entries are given a rigorous test-driving by qualified educators in several rounds of judging. Products are also carefully screened by the T&L editorial team. Evaluation criteria include the following: quality and effectiveness ease of use, creative use of technology, and suitability for use in an educational environment.

Brady McCue, TreeRing Co-Founder, said, “It’s a huge honor to be recognized by such a prestigious award.  Our goal when we started the company was to provide a way for student’s to better capture their memories and remove the yearbook financial burden for schools.  We still have a lot of work to do to make the product even better, but this is a great recognition of our progress so far.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dallas Morning News - Technology lets students, parents lay out personalized pages in high school yearbooks

Technology lets students, parents lay out personalized pages in high school yearbooks

By KAREL HOLLOWAY / The Dallas Morning News 
Yearbooks can be a big rush or a real letdown.
Lots of pictures of your child and it's great. Just the formal class picture and maybe a glimpse of a cute face at the back of a group and the big book seems a waste.
Yearbook companies are springing up to help avoid disappointment, offering schools and parents a digital way to make the books more personal.
TreeRing, headquartered in California, says it was the first company to offer schools personalized pages in yearbooks. Parents, or the students if they are old enough, can lay out their own pages with photos and text and add them to the standard book.
Co-founder Chris Pratt remembers his daughter bringing home her book with just two photos of her.
"It didn't capture her memories," said Aaron Greco, who started the company with Pratt.
The company started last year, using a digital process to offer personalized pages. Greco said other companies now are springing up to offer similar services. Several area schools, including some in Rockwall and Wylie, are using TreeRing, he said, though he would not say how many clients the company has.
The digital process is called print on demand.
Instead of setting up pages and then printing them on a large offset press, TreeRing pages are similar to documents on any computer. Pages can be added or deleted almost as easily as attaching a file to e-mail. Books can be cheaply printed, one individualized copy at a time.
That means the yearbooks can be truly personalized. Schools using the system no longer have to place large orders, or large deposits, in advance.
Schools create 80 percent of the pages online – this is the traditional part of the book. But parents automatically receive other pages they can use as they want, uploading pictures and text of their child.
Once the book is finished, parents, students or others, like grandparents, can order the book they want. It can have no personalized pages or dozens.
Because of the streamlined digital process, the books are often 20 to 30 percent cheaper than other yearbooks, Greco said.
"One mom that had three kids at the school had 16 pages for each kid." Greco said. "The pages were beautiful."
Parent volunteer Tonya Fenoglio is in charge of the yearbook at Rockwall's Hartman Elementary School. She said TreeRing seemed an easy choice.
This is the first year Fenoglio has been the yearbook coordinator. She searched the Internet to see if there was a better option than the company the school had used for years.
She found TreeRing and liked the ability to personalize pages and the lower cost.
"All the other yearbooks seemed really outdated," she said.
She has already created the pages for her daughter. They include pictures with her friends and activities from first grade. Other parents have gone online to finish their students' pages as well.
Fenoglio says she likes the chance for parents to add personal details such as teacher names and important days.
"They'll kind of have a Life at Grace Hartman Elementary School," she said.

Friday, November 5, 2010

New York Times - A Yearbook Dedicated to Inclusion

A Yearbook Dedicated to Inclusion
A growing number of schools, including Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Baldwin Senior High School, on Long Island, are also using new publishing technology offered through companies like... TreeRing to give every student the option of personalizing a yearbook by adding pages to fill with photos and memories, at little or no additional cost. Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s yearbook advisers, Julie Whitty and Amy Rutkowski, said they hoped the customized pages and more inclusive approach would increase their sales; in recent years, about half of the students bought yearbooks, which start at $75 this year.  READ FULL ARTICLE ON NYT 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blog, A Virtual Unknown - A New Kind of Memory

A new kind of memory
Posted by Jim Willis

Indelible memories of those innocent years of grade school, awkward years of junior high, the posturing years of high school, and the challenging years of college are found between the covers of your old yearbooks.
You remember: those are the tomes filling that 60-pound box you’ve been hauling around all your life, transferring unopened from one attic the next, defying you to actually set them out on the curb on trash day.
The rituals
One of the annual rituals of school days was the yearbook signing when you passed the books around to sign and be signed, getting back the most intimate comments from people you didn’t even know you knew, and getting rather bland sentiments from friends you thought were intimates.
Later, as a parent, you were eager to see the book that set you back $25 or more, only to find your Valicia had forgotten to have her class mug shot taken and was seen only once in the book in the blurry background of a pep rally shot.
And, of course, you hoped if young Terrence were voted something like “Most Likely to Succeed,” that he wouldn’t wind up disappointing American society and becoming a Charles Manson later in life.
Economic victims
So school yearbooks can be anxiety-provoking, but they can also be a lot of fun. Sadly, however, yearbooks are also among the victims of shrinking school and family economies. The good news is that help has arrived from the digital era of communications, which we are calling the Virtual Unknown.
At the university where I teach, Indiana’s Ball State, the award-winning Orient yearbook has been gone for several years now. At my former university, California’s Azusa Pacific, the Student Government Association would like it dropped and for student money to go elsewhere. Only a president nostalgic for a past era, is keeping it alive.
For awhile, many schools tried shifting from the expensive hard-cover books to video yearbooks. Some still are using that and publishing books digitally on CDs or DVDs, choosing to forego printed yearbooks altogether. The thought is that videos, sights, and sounds are better — and save more trees — than printed books.
But a lot of schools are taking digital to another level and letting students customize their own books.
Print on demand
Some of these schools, like the Chahta-Ima Elementary School in suburban New Orleans, are going to a new kind of print-on-demand yearbook to save costs. Companies like TreeRing Corp. , based in Redwood City, California, use Internet-based technology that saves schools money by letting them print only as many copies as needed while letting a wider group of students, faculty and parents collaborate in the process.

Other companies offering these print-on-demand services include ones like Lulu, Ziblio, and Lifetouch.
Casey Gleason, principal of Chahta-Ima told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We wanted the school to be able to have a yearbook for its historical significance,” said Gleason, whose school has served several generations in Lacombe, La. “We wanted to do it at a reasonable cost, but not sacrifice instructional funds for the school.”
Online publishing
TreeRing is a start-up company featuring a publishing model that is catching on in the book industry of printing only the number of books needed by a customer.
It’s too early tell if this model will challenge the traditional school yearbook market, in which publishing companies like Taylor and Jostens dominate. But with more schools abandoning traditional yearbooks, it could.
The publishing of the yearbooks is done entirely online, with students, faculty, and parents able to contribute elements to the book. The class mug-shot pages and student organization pages remain pretty standard, but much of the rest of the book uses the “crowdsourcing” technique of having individuals upload pictures of themselves involved in school or family activities to other pages, for which templates are provided. They can even pop in pictures of news or cultural events during the year that were meaningful for them.
Personalized books
The result is a kind of personalized yearbook that insures your kid doesn’t have to lay out money to buy a book in which he/she is only pictured once or twice. So each book may be somewhat different from the next, but you pay for only your personalized book; not someone else’s. Another plus is that TreeRing pledges to plant one tree for every yearbook printed.
Very Californian and very cool.
No unsold books
It’s also cool for the schools and their budgets, because instead of being stuck with a couple thousand dollars of unsold books at the end of the year, there are no unsold books because a book doesn’t get printed by TreeRing until they receive payment from the student or family. The books are actually printed by an Indiana company contracted by TreeRing. Most of them are done in soft cover and costs can vary from roughly $10 to $15 each, which is cheaper than most traditional hard-cover yearbooks.
With these new publishing options available, yearbooks will hopefully be around for many years to come.
A silent prayer
But you still hope that “most likely to succeed” will refer to your young Terrence doing well in an endeavor that is considered legal and, who knows, maybe even ethical.