As educational content continues to migrate from print to digital, development and production processes are changing to meet new needs. These changes present both challenges and opportunities, according to speakers at a free December 4 webinar on Content Development and Production for Multi-Platform Use offered by the PreK-12 Learning Group and presented by SPi Global.
Host John Prabhu, Vice President and Solutions Architect for SPi Global, opened the webinar by giving a brief overview of changes within the publishing industry in recent years and introducing the speakers. Among the interesting facts he shared were that the vast majority of our daily media interactions (about 90%) are screen based and that publishers expect the profitability of their digital platforms to grow significantly in 2014.
Next, Katherine Gruber, Senior Vice President, Content Technology and QA for Cengage Learning, noted that most content providers are still in the early stages of transitioning to “developing material that is equally pre-purposed for print and digital use.” She said Cengage is now producing many of its materials in a “simultaneous publishing” workflow. She also talked about the value of “future proofing” materials by creating highly granular, semantic XML versions.
Ken Brooks, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain Management for McGraw-Hill Education, discussed how “learning content is rapidly evolving into learning platforms and how production will change to support both these platforms and the legacy books that we all deal with.” He described how a learning path consists of sequenced learning objects, noting that “together, the learning object, the interactive content, and the quiz elements drive toward achieving a particular learning objective.” He showed a graphic depicting workflow for the development and production process of the future and reminded listeners of the need to support existing print materials as well as new digital ones.
Hugh Flynn, Senior Director of Content and Delivery Systems for the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Technology Group, described the evolution of HMH’s eBook production over the past couple of years and asked listeners to consider “What do we do in a post-print world?” Flynn talked about various ePub production streams, ranging from static to interactive. He noted the limitations of simply making print to digital replicas of PDFs, pointing out that ePUB3 offers far broader opportunities for interactivity. “The format itself has really opened the door to do more than convert the content from one format to another, and it really raises that expectation that the eBook content provides an enhanced experience,” he noted.
Finally, Paul Belfanti, Director of Content Architecture for Pearson Education North America, talked about standards-based product creation. He emphasized that standards should not be seen as stifling creativity. Rather, they can serve as “a foundation for creativity and innovation.” He also stressed the importance of compact standards and structures over intrusive policies. Belfanti talked about the EDUPUB Industry Standards Workshop, held in October in Boston, which revolved around these themes: 1) educational interoperability landscape, 2) rich and interactive content, 3) accessibility, and 4) production workflows.
The webinar closed with a question and answer session. Judging by the reaction to interactive polls and questions, participants found the webinar to be both informative and thought provoking. Hear audio from the webinar here and access the slides here.