Digital commerce touches a number of industries beyond online retail, and exciting things are happening in the publishing world, particularly in education publishing. As “digital” invades the classroom, education publishers are looking more and more like tech companies.
3 Big Opportunities in Education Publishing
Digital is taking over the classroom
Today’s tech-savvy students carry tablets, e-readers, laptops and smartphones to class, often with devices provided by the school. Some schools have already moved to all-digital libraries, and South Korea aims to have all-digital curriculum across the country by 2015.
Digital textbooks lighten the backpacks and wallets of students, but simply converting tree-books to e-books doesn’t satisfy the demands of the digital classroom.
Digital offers new ways to teach and learn
The new wave of textbooks will behave more like “smartbooks,” with embedded multimedia, quizzes, gamification, tutorials, supplementary content and even social features. Both students and educators can edit and contribute to digital textbooks, and teachers can customize their own versions of a book to suit their syllabus, even embedding video of their own lectures into the experience.
Digital content owned by the publisher can also be remixed in a number of ways: through books, learning management platforms and companion apps. Content can be personalized to the student based on their school or course or individual learning needs and goals.
And like software, digital textbooks can be updated as frequently as required, rather than every 2 years.
Digital holds opportunity for new business models
Students typically either rent textbooks or buy, with the option to re-sell at the end of the term if the edition is still in use. Whether tree-book or e-book, the student “pays for” the entire text.
Entitlements are the “rights” to access digital content. Rather than purchase an e-textbook, a student may hold entitlements that unlock specific or all chapters, purchase additional content, access for a specific time frame and access for a specific device or number of devices. These entitlements may be part of a subscription, purchase or rental price, or may be baked into a tuition fee or other bundle.
A professor could source content from a library of titles, creating a “custom” text that’s custom-priced.
Students could search across textbook content and unlock chapters of textbooks outside their assigned texts as needed, at any hour of the day (or night).
Publishers can offer legacy content via an API to developers to create new and exciting apps.
Though much of this innovation has yet to hit the classroom, progressive education publishers are exploring the possibilities that digital technology holds for their educational offerings. What’s next is the transformation of textbooks into rich learning experiences.
Image credit: CC by Intel Free Press