If you attended public school in the US, you probably have memories of working your way through the colored rainbow of those SRA reading labs and math labs, big boxes of work-at-your-own-pace laminated tabbed sheets of leveled exercises. And sure, thirty years ago, that was as innovative as the typical classroom got by acknowledging that not every student will learn at the same pace as his peers, and that not all coursework has to be structured for the whole group setting.
In 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) filed for bankruptcy protection. In July of this year, Cengage Learning did the same, hoping to eliminate $4 billion in debt. Earlier in the year, McGraw-Hill completed the sale of its entire education division. And though HMH has since emerged nearly debt free and is seeking an IPO, clearly these are signs that disruptive changes are underway in educational publishing.
The advent of digital media has presented educational publishers with opportunities not only for the delivery of effective teaching and learning solutions, but also with significant challenges that are well known by readers of this column. These challenges include the need to acquire new competencies within the organizations, the creation of new partnerships with service providers and the need to sort through a range of technical issues.
Before joining Book Business last year, I was the director of graduate publishing programs at Rosemont College. In that job, it was my primary responsibility to develop courses, hire instructors and help shape the curriculum that would allow our students to gain the skills needed for a successful publishing career.
Two recent articles reflect a couple aspects of reality that I see about e-readers: The dust has not settled yet, and the single, catch-all solution that many would like to grab onto may never exist … nor should it.
One is an article in BusinessWeek about how the Kindle has not wowed college students. This is the part where I trot out my sarcasm and say, “Gee, ya think?”