Back To The Future – Futurebook Live 2019 - Innovations That Work

At midday on Monday, November 25th at #Futurebooklive 2019 I’m chairing a discussion panel – Innovations That Work

The panel will be very exciting with leading figures from different publishing sectors all of whom have made a mark on the areas of publishing within which they work.

What I hope will emerge from it will be that by taking risk, implementing new systems and workflows, by experimenting with new content and commercial models, and by carefully executing change strategies, any publisher can react to the huge changes that we’re experiencing because of the rapid convergence of technology, the four laws of Moore, Metcalfe, Gilder and Varian, the networked economy and the new expectations of digitally-enabled consumers.

This isn’t a new concept of course. Since the rapid uptake of both hardware and internet connections at the end of the 1990s, many companies have made efforts to change at various times. Some have succeeded straightaway and others are yet to make a mark.

Whilst innovation in the publishing industry has progressed, it has generally been driven by external forces.

For example, when Intel, the tech giant, produced skoool.com to demonstrate the capability of its Intel-chipped classmates some 10-15 years ago, in many education markets, the bar was set. In those markets where Intel’s operation was focused, schools and education departments began to expect more digital resources for a lower overall cost.

Similarly, the appearance of educational multimedia channels such as Alexander Street and the Khan Academy have led to multinational publishers incorporating video content, embedded within their own products – as I write this I’m thinking of Cengage and their relationships with both TED Talks and National Geographic which were major moves into the arena of video-supported education.

A whole generation of learners under the age of 20 now expect to have an educational experience which is both tailored to them and is also fully multimedia. That was established way back in the Spring of 2007 when the talented students of the equally talented Professor Michael Wesch at Kansas State University produced A Vision of Students Today

Under 20s are amongst the biggest demographic group of consumers of video content. Dependent on which research is used, between 52% and 82% of under 20s watch well over an hour of short-form video a week. With the advent of AI and adaptive learning, the tailoring of education to the individual is taken care of.

But it is the area of multimedia learning which leaves a lot to desire.

All of the panel members on our panel at Futurebook, Tom Clark from deGruyter, Steve Connolly from Hodder Education, Kathryn Earle from Bloomsbury and Sam Herbert from 67 Bricks, have been innovators within their own individual areas of expertise. And their innovations have worked. The design of new IT systems, the roll-out of new workflows, experimentation with new business models and the rapid acceleration of digital programmes to incorporate both video content and value-added services have all been crucial to their successes.

Whilst strongly branded and pedagogically sound multimedia content is still king, it is important to keep track of the changing educational content consumer who is changing exactly in-line with wholesale changes in their mass-market experience of both branded and non-branded content.

In education, the consumer, be it teacher, parent or child now expects a full multimedia experience.

The members of our panel look forward to sharing with you how they developed new business and operational strategies, how they have built successful new ventures for large businesses on the back of this, and there will be a focus on risk-taking, changing direction in terms of a product format and the operational challenges that arise, and the challenges of delivering high-quality branded content for the 21st century digital consumer.

We do hope that we’ll see you there.

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