Pearson wants to be like a video game publisher
At the SIIA Ed Tech Business Forum, chief product officer for Pearson’s K-12 technology group, Luyen Chou acknowledged that his company needs to become an “Electronic Arts for education.” What does Pearson, one the world’s largest book publishers for education, have in common with Electronic Arts, another giant of the video games industry?
With the rise of digital content over the past decade, it has disrupted the traditional business models of the textbook publication industry, requiring them to rethink their modus operandi. Although the quick solution for the publishers seems to be just the matter of transitioning the medium from physical to digital, Chou’s statement foresees the industry having to go beyond their current models. Chou explained that in order for Pearson and other book publishers to adapt to the changing environment, publishers can’t just rely on the traditional model of digitizing the static textbooks of yester year. Rather, they would need to excel at producing high-quality, interactive digital learning experiences and get them into the hands of students.
Based on Chou’s observation, the shift towards digital media would have several implications for both education sector and the book publishing industry. As the book publisher aims to make well designed education material, the production process would be akin to producing video games. Its processes will require the participation of experts from diverse backgrounds assigned throughout the various phases of production. Chou explains, “[that process includes] digital studios, animators, illustrators, producers, 3-D artists – we need to build that capacity within instructional companies like Pearson…”. Moreover, it would involve not just individuals of technical expertise, but from the field of teaching as well as its participants would provide end-user feedback to the publishers. With digital content being easily malleable to suit individual needs, Pearson would have to rise to the challenge in tailoring to the various demands of teachers and students.
As Pearson ambitiously pursues a new business model in order to meet the demands of the 21st century, the need for communication and cooperation between the education realm and the publishing industry becomes increasingly crucial. There will be a need for a go-between party who understands the language within both sides and be able communicate across their respective needs. I believe this is where gamification and its experts may prove the be one of the many potential links that could bridge the information gap between the education and print industry.