There was a time, not very long ago, that in order to read a book, you had to have it in your hand. The whole thing; paper and ink, binding and cover and everything that makes books physical and tangible things. But more than a decade ago our phones became smarter, screens multiplied and got larger, and things changed. eBooks entered the scene, and they demanded our attention.
While this initially had an impact solely on consumer fiction markets, it wasn’t very long until broader applications were envisioned. Professionals from authors to publishers to educators marveled as a wave of literary excitement swept over the world.
While such sentiment doesn’t offer much insight, it’s demonstrative of the potentially revolutionary ability they recognized, and that you have the chance to take part in. But what has been done? What should you be on the lookout for?
Adapt or Perish
Research shows that a majority of students are very interested in eLearning or in using electronic resources to aid in their studies. Some major publishers are supplying that support with their physical textbooks online activities, using names like “digital support,” “learning science,” or “extended curriculum.”
Publishers like Cengage and McGraw-Hill were among the first big-name players to lead this charge. These hybrid approaches seem to be the perfect solution; by combining your printed textbooks with your online software, you’re maximizing your products, right?
Consider the effects of splitting your time, efforts, and resources. Are your online programs truly complimentary to your textbooks? Are they critical? If so, why are the textbooks necessary? The cost of the book is also something students are weary of. The price of included software they don’t feel is necessary can drive them away. The extra time to design, publish, and curate electronic content can be costly, as well.
What is the future of the textbook?
If hybrids are bad for time, effort, and profit, what does that mean for education and textbook publishers? While those approaches made sense at the start, there’s been a growing, defined shift in standards over the years. Now publishers provide entire textbooks in electronic format, along with practice tests, videos, and other resources.
That’s a good start. But there’s more that can be done. Consider just a few possibilities:
- Rather than using full-length textbooks right from the start, instructors could make courseware with certain chapters or sections of books available for students as they advance.
- Things like video, audio, interactive media, microlearning, short-length lessons, abbreviated quizzes, and other materials once considered auxiliary or supplementary could become an intrinsic portion of daily curriculum.
- Modules designed for students that want or need different levels of instruction on specific topics, each with the same variety of material as what’s offered primarily.
- Instant access to content from anywhere in the world for students to do their coursework, for instructors to grade and assign, or for course creators to curate and update.
- Data and analytics to help you determine what’s working, what's not, and how to improve it all.
Online Publishing Solutions
Those ideas are easy to accomplish using a platform like MyEcontentFactory. While there are some publishers that are actively pushing into the digital content market, their steps are still fairly tentative, almost hesitant. The market, the need, for publishers to stand out, to be bold, to strive to make themselves different is very real.
There is still the opportunity for that innovation, that standout player to be seen. If too much time is spent with hybrid thinking, too much time shifting from one angle to the next, from one platform to another, then you risk standing behind while others step up.
"The Things I Know"
New ideas and ways to purchase books and courseware are now a reality in the market. At the end of 2017, Cengage announced that they will offer a “Netflix” type of subscription that will allow learners to consumer as much material as they choice at a per semester or per year price. The cost is noticeable lower than the average amount students spend in the United States on textbooks. Cengage is betting on a digital philosophy that they believe will be the future of learning.
In our recent case study on a simultaneous digital and print content creation strategy, companies do save time and money by producing both at the same time. In the end, will companies move to only publishing digitally?