Shifting Education, Technology Market Challenges Publishers

By Sean Cavanagh — June 03, 2013 1 min read
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Education publishers face opportunities, challenges, and a huge amount of uncertainty in the K-12 market over the next few years. That was one of the clear themes that emerged on the opening day of a conference of school publishers, an event which kicked off here on Sunday.

Several factors are contributing to the state of flux: the coming demands of the Common Core State Standards; the emergence of free, or “open-education” resources that challenge commercial publishers; and the question about whether education content, or the technological platforms that deliver that content, will matter more in the time to come.

Speakers on the opening day of the “Content in Context” conference, staged by the Association of Educational Publishers and the Association of American Publishers’ school division, turned to those questions repeatedly on Sunday. One of those presenters was Neal Goff, the president of Egremont Associates, a New York-based consulting firm who works with publishers and education technology companies, including startups.

School districts are devoting an increasing amount of their spending to digital products, Goff said. But the dilemma for publishers is knowing how much to invest in digital, when a big chunk of their revenue still comes from print products.

“Print still pays the bills,” Goff said. Even as publishers invest more heavily in digital, he added, many of them are interested in “protecting [their] legacy costs.”

Publishers also face major questions about how the common standards will affect their bottom line.

On the one hand, effective publishers have “a one-time opportunity to redesign curriculum from scratch,” through the common standards, Goff said. Yet publishers are also cognizant that while states are adjusting to the standards, and preparing to implement new tests aligned to them, many states and districts haven’t set aside specific funding to help schools and teachers prepare for those new academic expectations.

As a result, some publishers are “reticent” about creating new materials devoted to the standards, Goff said.

Read the full post on the shifting landscape for publishers on Education Week’s Marketplace K12 blog.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.