Articles Tagged with education publishing

Operations Department Sign CAEducation publishers have taken a lot of fire in the last few years – many believe that we are too big, too powerful, and that things would be better if teachers just wrote their own materials or used free stuff.

So why do we continue to exist? Are publishers a necessary evil soon to be eliminated by a tsunami of free OER content, or is there an ongoing beneficial role in public education that publishers can fill?

This post is one publisher’s take on what justifies our place in education. This isn’t intended as a direct refutation of critiques of publishers, any industry as large as ours (over $10 billion) has plenty of opportunities to improve what we do. Rather, I focus on some of the lesser appreciated positive contributions we make. It also isn’t a takedown of OER materials, which have earned a permanent place at the table.

Peering into a cannonQuick – what percentage of your iTunes library is produced by amateurs? For that matter how many books on your eReader of choice are self-published works?

If you are like most people the answer to both questions is “slim to none.”

The point is that quality matters in any medium. Moving from analog to digital doesn’t reduce expectations of quality – in many cases it increases it.

1029083_reaching_1The education publishing tribe’s annual gathering is in New York this week. Today kicks off with the SIIA Ed Tech Business Forum (sold out) at the Princeton Club followed by the AEP CEO Roundtable (2 seats left) and the MDR/Peter Li Christmas Party tomorrow (by invitation), and the AEP Hall of Fame Breakfast on Thursday.

This annual trek is an important part of the culture of our industry and if you have not participated I encourage you to make time next year. I love me some social media – but there is no replacement for looking people in the eye, handshakes, and hugs for old friends. 95% of communication is non-verbal after all.

Over the next few days I’ll be putting up a few posts about the events this week. My intention is not to provide general reporting, but to drill in on a few things I find interesting. We’ll see how that goes.

NFImageImportliteracy n. The condition or quality of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.

Surpise! It turns out that the generation in school today is writing more and reading more. Several recent reports provide evidence to support this startling claim. The internet – a time pig that has consumed us with new ways of doing things – has wings.

This trend is global – according to the CIA literacy rates went from 50-60% in the 1970’s to over 80% by 2005. Teens are leading the way. TV is for geezers.

6a00d8341d03da53ef00e54f50f27c8833-640wiIf you don’t think story-line matters in instructional materials just look at the pie fight over evolution in Texas. At its root this is a battle over which story we use to make sense of how we got here. Advocates on both sides will be unhappy with this characterization – for them the fight is over the truth. My goal in this piece is not to take sides in this argument (I do have one) but to talk about the power of story-line in instruction.

“And The Moral of the Story Is…”

Theories, metaphors, legends, myths, etc. are all attempts to impose order on our perception of the world. These stories give us a shared shorthand to help us make decisions about how to think and act. Without the moment of “oh this is like the time when x did y in the story about z” we’d forever be stuck deciding what to do next – stories help us be efficient. It is so wired that our brains even make up stories when we are sleeping – dreams may not make literal sense to our left brain but our pattern seeking right brain has the steering wheel during those hours.

865433_money_mattersWhat impact will the economic stimulus have on educational materials and technology? A front page New York Times article yesterday left no doubt that education will be a significant part of the legislation. The Times reports that the total education allocation could be as much as $75-$95* billion a year over current allocations for the next two years. In sector that accounts for about $530 billion in total expenditures, 92% of which has traditionally come from state and local taxes, this represents a seismic shift in the Federal Government’s influence on the market.

The questions executives in the industry have to wrestle with are how much of the total will be spent on instructional materials, when will funds flow, and what products will schools buy? The answers to these questions will drive investments, hiring, and M&A for the next couple of years.

I’ve talked to a few folks around the industry to see what people are thinking and the notes below represent a collective set of insights. It is still early days, the legislation probably won’t be in a final format until mid to late February, but many companies are making decisions now about their ’09 plans.

870607_braeburn_1Products designed for the classroom must meet the needs of teachers first. If students are the primary users of your instructional materials this may sound a little backwards – but it isn’t. Teachers can make or break your product before a student ever sees it.

Designing for teacher ease-of-use should be a core competency at any education publisher.

Today we tackle issue #4 in the series on selling and marketing to educators.

In times of disruptive change the cutting edge is the safest place to be.

To many people this seems counterintuitive. If there is rapid change the inclination of most people is to circle the wagons around the familiar. But, when the market is moving, breaking camp and moving forward is actually a lower risk approach. If you are taking risks in your job and trying to invent the future you are actually in a safer position than those who cling to the status quo.

Education Market Forces

836863_sausage_2Hot sizzling education publishing and ed-tech related links here! Obama’s call for more teachers, kids media preferences, 2.0 de jour, and assessing 21st Century skills all get a nod in a short week.

Eduflack talks about Obama’s call for an army of teachers. I confess that I worry about federalizing education too much, we don’t need more Reading First scandals. Having 50 laboratories is better than 1. Another wag noted a contradiction on the right – if the free market knows best and if education is the foundation for economic growth why aren’t conservatives fighting to pay teachers more? That would bring higher quality candidates into the profession via market forces.

Kids 10-14 prefer the internet to TV. AHCI Lunch has commentary on a New York Times article that revealed this finding about teens media preferences. Here is my question – why didn’t TV take off in the classroom given the power it holds over our culture? One of the core arguments about why internet tools, social media, and virtual worlds should be in classrooms is that they are where the kids already are. The same could be said for TV at any time in the last 50 years.