Monday, February 9, 2009

Digital Print and Reinventing Textbooks Part 1

To be clear, my passion is to fix the educational system.

Based on my experience plus what I've seen and read, the problem is not that hard. It doesn't require a lot more money. It's a question of focus and breaking through the noise in our public schools with an amplified signal.

I am agnostic whether Xerox, HP, Canon, Oce or Ricoh take the lead. Of course, since I am a Xerox stockholder, I would prefer it be Xerox. But shares can be kept or sold.

To that end, I am today beginning a series that outlines how to get from here to there. I will try to sketch out my ideas about how present strengths can be leveraged to get this done faster, rather than slower.

I believe that if a serious player focuses on this space, it will help deal with the destruction of social capital that is entailed in firing good, smart, experienced people. To be clear, I appreciate that legacy overhead must be eliminated for the corporation to thrive going forward.

Part 1:
Here's the use case:
Science teacher X is planning a lesson on Y science topic next week. It's been really hard to keep the class on track because that's always the way it is in a real life classroom.

She goes to a website. The content is vetted by our Science Consulting Group, who are presently doing the work anyway.

At the website, she chooses the content that is right for her classes, next Monday.

A local Print providerprints and delivers 30 booklets - say 16 pages - for the class in a day or two. If the content is aligned with standards and a quiz is included, why wouldn't anyone prefer this to a heavy out of date textbook that you can't write in?

The secret sauce
The students could be required to highlight - in the physical magazine - the parts they don't understand or find particularly interesting. If a quiz is included, the booklets are collected at the end of the unit. That gives the teacher great guidance on which student gets it and which students don't. It is guidance that can be taken home and mulled over. As opposed to a meaningless test score that can be used for sorting, but is meaningless for feedback to teach.

In future posts, I will look at the problem from the bottom of the pyramid, the middle of the pyramid and the top of the pyramid.

I welcome comments and especially criticisms until we get this right.

More clicks + more smart kids.


  1. I think this is a really forward thinking idea. To your knowledge, are any school districts implementing this? I'm brand new to this site but I'm loving it already.

  2. Given that I believe there are no new ideas, just different implementations. I bet this is happening in lots of places either in the states or the UK or Australia or India.

    Unfortunately they're not on my radar yet..but I keep looking and I'll keep on keeping on my little soapbox.

    Welcome, anon.