Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections of 2012--and What a Year It Was…

What a difference 10 years makes! iD8-TripleSSS celebrated its 10th anniversary in October of this year. There are two words that encapsulate the year for us--technology and people.  They may seem like polar opposites, but it is the advances, innovations, and expectations in educational technology and the people with whom we worked on our digital journey that have made 2012 memorable.

Technology changed our processes, and services, and advanced our skills and services in ways that we could not have dreamed of even one year ago. We used to set up FTP sites, and transfer files through yousendit and related sites. Now we set up a Dropbox folder for each project, and we check the files on our phones and tablets. We ask our clients whether we should provide mapping documents or author online. Flash has given way to HTML 5 and social media has become as important as a website.

Print marketing materials? Nonexistent. Tablets? They are crucial to our clients and to us.  For years we’ve written some content for online courses. Now we are often asked to write the entire online course, thanks to the wonderfully qualified professionals we employ.

Rather than developing postsecondary content for only print or online courseware, we began developing content for multiple media and platforms. We recently completed a successful foray into app content development for the K-12 space, and we now create builds for proof of concept work and beyond . We learned about keeping our footprint “light” so we do not take up band-width. The amount of new buzzwords we now employ (not just read about) could easily comprise a short dictionary.

We studied best-practices in K-12 and assessed our  strategy in this entire market-space and made some investment decisions accordingly. We watched and acted as content become personal, and adaptive-learning  became the expectation at all levels. While content became more personal, access to resources continued to open-up, and OER (open educational resources) grew world-wide and became less of a threat (maybe) to the copyright world.

Finally, what made 2012 most memorable for us is the people. The loyalty, skills, and growth of our writers, developers, project managers, and creators inspire us each day. We have learned together and helped each other through challenging projects and times.

We suppose anyone with an organization claims to have the best people, but we will always argue that iD8-TripleSSS truly does have the best.  We do not settle for less than the best and are thankful everyday that each of these excellent professionals chooses to work and grow with us.

A client once said we are “transparent,” complementing us deeply and something we take to heart. “It’s personal” was our original mission when we opened our doors 10 years ago. “It’s still personal.”

Thank you! May your New Year be Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous-- from all of us at iD8-TripleSSS Media Development, LLC. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Classrooms Come Alive with Interactive Textbook Platforms

The K-12 educational environment is changing at a rapid pace, for the better.
Thanks to the constant upgrades and innovations in the tech industry, classrooms are feeling the positive effects and are able to elevate the learning environment for students to a whole new level.

Computers are in most classrooms these days and the amount of students with access to tablets, computers and smartphones has never been higher, and is growing each year. With these technological upgrades, students are afforded the opportunity to learn online some of the time in a blended class and have unprecedented access to information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "Amazing things are happening in education right now, " says Mike Sullivan Teacher and Co-Founder of Noyo, an interactive language software company. "Once a fire is ignited and a student has a burning desire to learn more in a subject, they now have constant access with no one to hold them back."

According to Ariel Diaz, Founder, and CEO of BOUNDLESS, "textbooks are the curriculum of the past and we're {Boundless} working to build the curriculum of the future." Interactive textbooks that can be custom-designed by educational publishing gurus such as iD8-Triple SSS Media Development, LLC. Boundless offers a unique opportunity for all those engaged in the educational environment: students, teachers, parents and publishers alike. "Technology will only improve over time, but the old textbook in hard copy form can only age. New platforms will only get better, says Sullivan, who cannot imagine ever paying $100 for a textbook again and which will probably be outdated by the time it hits the classroom.

These new interactive textbook platforms will not only offer unlimited access to learning for students of all ages at a fraction of the price, but they also make it easier for teachers to focus learning goals on the needs of each specific student. Parents win too because the classroom can come home with their child and offer extra tutorials and assistance in problem areas that students may not get during the class day.

Educational media companies like iD8-Triple SSS Media Development benefit as well because these interactive textbook platforms allow for top-notch customer service. Books are no longer created with the hope that they will be purchased; they are created through a very streamlined process and delivered through specific projects at the request of a client, minimizing duplication of products and reducing costs.

The only drawback to these new interactive textbook platforms is that it is hard to support everything out there, and keep pace with the constant changes and advancements.

Guest Blogger: Daphne Butas

Daphne is a seasoned writer and former teacher who specializes in developing educational content for use in books, manuals, testing materials and online resources. She lives with her husband and 3 children in Falls Church, VA and thinks that motherhood has been the greatest and hardest educational experience of her life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Designing for Digital

In a recent study published by Educause, surveyors found that “students prefer courses with some online components and they expect their instructors to seamlessly integrate technology in their pedagogical practices.”

How can you as publishers help instructors give students what they want? How can we at iD8-TripleSSS help you achieve this goal? We will explore these questions in this post.

Broken into their simplest pieces the relevant product stages here are Product Visioning, Creation, Market Testing, and Product Support. What do each of these stages mean for technology integration? 

Product Visioning: At this first stage you and your authors are grappling with what course your product will support, what market needs it will answer, what the competition is doing and not doing – and it is easy to push Technology aside to deal with it later. But you can’t – not if you want to create seamless integration for your instructors and their students.

You should also be thinking about technology now. In the past technology has been an afterthought, an additional feature added on, and authored by someone brought on at the last moment. This doesn’t lead to integration, this leads to a bolt-on effect, and students will recognize that the media is not integrated with the rest of the material.

To avoid the bolt-on effect you should be asking yourself at the outset questions like the following:
      What role will technology play in this product?
      Will we use technology to deliver content, to assess learning, or both?
      How dependent on technology will this product be?
      What market needs will the technology answer? (You don’t want to just create something flashy without strong pedagogical value.)
      iD8-TripleSSS has experience grappling with these type of issues, and we can help you think about the market-value and pedagogical-value of the technology solutions you might make part of your product.

Content Creation & Market Testing
      While core body content is being written, the authors/SMEs need to know what you’re planning for the media. The plans, storyboards, and concepts for the media should be built out in as much detail as possible along side the core content.
      iD8-TripleSSS has experience developing media products, and coordinating their creation. We can help you create solid media content in parallel with the “core” content.

      Reviewers need to understand how the media and written content fit together. They should validate your plans. They should evaluate both together – just as the student and instructor will experience them.
      You should be asking them if the media plays a sound pedagogical role? Is it accessible and easy to use? Is it worth an additional cost if there is one? Does it address specific needs?
      If it the media will not be ready until down the road, then what can reviewers examine to understand what the media will be? Can they see storyboards, descriptions, etc.?
      iD8-TripleSSS of course has years of experience coordinating authors, SMEs and reviewers

Support Tools
      Support Tools are critical to a product’s and an instructor’s success.
      Instructors and students need to know how the media will be accessed; and when and how it is to be used. The more comfortable your instructors feel with the technology, the more they will use it in class and assign it to students beyond the classroom. For those reasons, support tools are critical. We can help with this as well.

Media and technology are exciting new ways to deliver content. There are as many pitfalls as there are opportunities. Let iD8-TripleSSS help you avoid those pitfalls, and create an engaging, seamless experience for teachers and students!

Guest Blogger: David Ploskonka
David has had a lifelong passion for education. He earned a Masters in English, and worked in publishing for over five years before becoming a freelance editor. In his free time, he and his wife enjoy camping and traveling.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Share Us with a Friend?

Have YOU joined the ID8-TripleSSS Media Development, LLC 10 Year Celebration? If not - there's still time. Help us reach our goal of 100 LIKES on Facebook by October 31st and be entered to win a Kindle Fire! So SHARE with your friends - one of YOU could be our winner! Cheers!

Marion and Susan

Where Are You In Your Digital Journey?

I think of blogs as informative and contemplative, which brings me today to the ethereal and yet concrete future of educational publishing. It seems many of our clients are in the midst of gigantic internal shifts ranging from how they are organized to how they produce all types of print, digital, and blended products. While it has been going on for a while, the transitions are now going to shift hiring, roles, reporting structures, and the selling conventions of all products.

What has that meant for iD8-TripleSSS Media Development, LLC? We now have an Advisory Board comprised of some of the greatest minds in educational publishing from K-12 and higher education. We have added a Managing Editor, Allison Murray, effective November 1. Her job title, we decided, doesn't need "digital" in it because the shift now means that it's understood that we are ALL doing working in the digital space. We work with a wonderful company, Finder of Fabulous, who is directing our social media strategy, and we've increased our bandwidth for speed, storage, and transmission because we work almost solely in the cloud now. We totally revamped to be fully reflective of all that is noted above.

It's fascinating to us here at iD8-TripleSSS who started writing content for the digital space five years ago in small doses and then three years ago in large doses to now being a leader in providing digital content. Today, we are confident in not only writing the content but also building the product as needed—ranging from courseware to curriculum.

What does that mean for products and how students view them? We are working on two App products designed for the iPad-type tablets (the big iPads but I'm sure it'll be for the smaller one, too, now). Students are getting annoyed if their texts are not available online, even if they bought the print version. Students are getting annoyed by carrying large textbooks and would rather get them online--and will pay for them in an online version just to not carry them. This alone will drive what teachers and professors advocate for their students, along with price. This has led to our working on digital texts, acquiring authors to create digital textbooks, and developing content that fills these needs. And yet, we love our print products just as much!

Open source options are finding their way into our bag of tricks as well as this market continues to form actively and “disruptively.”  We don’t think open source options are disruptive; they are innovative and are changing the way we all view access to content and our expectation of how it’s built.

Join us on this educational digital journey; draw upon our knowledge and excitement; let us bring you forward with us!


Monday, October 15, 2012

In Attendance at EdNet2012

Earlier this month I attended EdNet2012, a major networking conference for professionals involved in the educational market-space. There were lots of technology organizations there. Large organizations such as Kno and Overdrive, and up-and-comers like us, iD8-TripleSSS, who were there to learn and make new contacts. Although the conference saddled the educational market-space, the sessions and companies were dominated by players in the K-12 market.

Several promising connections were made at EdNet, especially with technology partners that build or have functional products essential to our future service offerings.  We had meetings with companies that have state-of-the-art platforms for e-learning, m-learning and everything in between. We also met with some fun companies that may not be a direct fit, but have really wonderful products meant to engage kids of all ages-including me. The company that particularly stands out is FableVision.  Check out their Mayan Mysteries social studies adventure that is hot off the press.

iD8-TripleSSS has always been strong in higher education and, the vocational and career markets. We have a smaller, but steady flow of business in K-12 including key areas such as STEM and several of the health professions. We are currently creating content for the lower grades for a 2013 App release and some other smaller products. Perhaps our biggest take-away from EdNet is that it has motivated us to move swiftly towards some new business initiatives in the K-12 area that will transition some of our services into a “service- as - product model” - stay tuned for more on this in later posts.

There were specific themes that came up over and over in EdNet and I want to share them:
  • Implementing the Common Core on a state-by-state basis
  • New online models
  • Digitally enhanced learning
  • Assessments, data, analytics
  • Adaptive testing
  • Interactive textbook platforms
  • Blended learning solutions
  • School options
  • Solutions for the special needs population
  • Models of instruction and design
Over the next few months we will elaborate more on these themes and bring in some guest bloggers to share their thoughts. I continue to be excited, motivated and grateful to work in educational publishing at a time when there is so much opportunity to innovate and set new standards in learning. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Join the Celebration!

JOIN the ID8-TripleSSS Media Development, LLC Celebration: Be the 75th person to LIKE our Facebook page and receive a $75 Amazon gift card! PLUS be eligible for other exciting prizes throughout our 10-year anniversary celebration. Cheers!

Marion and Susan

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reflecting on 10 Years in Business Serving the Educational Market Space

Mid-October marks the 10-year anniversary of iD8-TripleSSS Media Development, LLC. Although we officially came together only 2 years ago, we worked in partnership for many years leading up to our official merger. Thus, our 10-year anniversary feels like “our” anniversary. While we celebrate our 10-years in business, we also look back at the industry evolution and ours since we started in publishing and since we became a service provider.

When we began our educational publishing careers in the mid and late 80’s, we were lucky if we had access to a computer. Manuscripts were mailed as hard copy, sometimes with large floppy discs included. Those employees who knew how to work with Wang discs were eagerly sought out. If someone simply dropped an unnumbered manuscript a crisis could ensue trying to piece it back together without the benefit of a back-up copy.

Before a decade had passed, everyone had email, ftp sites, Blackberries, and had gotten rid of such things as X-Acto knives-an old necessity in publishing. And with the amount of new skills and services required, the publishers began to use quality outside vendors. With that mind, our company was born in 2002—serving these wonderful educational publishing companies by providing research, development, and writing services for this last decade.

We have been very lucky the last few years, and we never take that for granted. We were wise (or lucky) enough to recognize that no matter what the educational media might become, there will always be a need for excellent content. We therefore focused our efforts on building up the writing side of the business. Our collective experience as a student and an instructor in online courseware environments gave us the confidence to translate those skills into courseware development for clients. Together, we were able to explore web opportunities early on initiate what has now become the heart of our business-digital content development. We are now digital content providers and courseware creators to well-known publishing groups and several start-ups in the app and open source world.

Please make no mistake--iD8-TripleSSS Media Development’s growth could not have happened without the excellent freelancers that have worked with us through thick and thin as well as loyal clients that have been with us the entire 10 years thus far. To say we are grateful for their hard work and loyalty would be an understatement. As we grow as a company and continue to learn we hope you share our excitement about publishing and education. This is the best time to be in our industry; monumental shifts are re-defining every aspect of our business and with these changes are opportunities.

Marion and Susan