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only get better, says Sullivan, who cannot imagine ever paying $100 for a textbook again and which will probably be outdated by the time it hits the classroom.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.