Lessons and Questions About the Impact of the Digital Classroom from the CIC

The inaugural Talent Development Scholarship Program from AEP, supported by Jim McVety of First Step Advisors, is intended to help professionals new to the educational resource community learn, grow, and network at one of the industry’s most important events. Winners receive a full pass to AEP’s Content in Context (CIC) conference, as well as guided networking provided by veteran AEP members. Before and after the CIC, scholarship winners will contribute articles to Educational Publishing.

Here, scholarship winner Loretta Chan, Marketing Director for Youth Communication, shares what she learned about Common Core and the three key questions raised for her about publishing for the digital classroom.

The CIC was an incredibly educational and productive conference for me and for the growth of our nonprofit organization Youth Communication.

My main goal at the CIC Conference was to find new distribution channels for our short, nonfiction stories in the high school market. In addition to establishing several helpful contacts, I gained insight into the concerns of the educational publishing industry and was exposed to new ways of sharing content.

One hot topic at the CIC was how the new Common Core standards will impact the industry. The session “Keeping Current on Common Core” made it clear that schools are just starting to comprehend the new standards and that implementation will be slow. The problem that Youth Communication would like to solve is “How will teachers get their struggling students to meet the new language arts standards that require greater proficiency in reading and writing?” This urgent need motivates us to find more ways to help teachers use our stories as a bridge to more complex texts and to inspire reluctant readers who might get left behind.

A few other points from CIC sessions that made a strong impression and raised important questions for me:

  • “A digital book is not enough anymore.” (Session: Re-engineering Your Business to the 3.0 World) Unfortunately, we can’t just convert a print book to a pdf and call it a day when it comes to offering digital content. How can we sufficiently enhance our stories with features like video or audio without being distracted from our mission of helping youth develop their full potential through reading and writing?
  • “Research the non-users — that will point to what changes can be made.” (Session: Why You Need Data to Back Up Your Vision) To expand our reach we always need to learn more about how to make our stories and lessons more user-friendly.
  • “Rethink the book so that it’s the cheat sheet to succeed in the game” (Session: Best Gaming Practices from Around the World) I had never seriously considered gaming as a strategy for distributing our stories. This session made it clear that educational gaming is still unexplored territory. Is there a gaming partner out there who has the right strategy for promoting literacy and social/emotional learning with our stories?

For developing marketing materials, it was helpful — and fun — to watch the pitches for new educational products and to hear the judges’ critiques at the Innovation Throwdown. Perhaps Youth Communication can pitch a presentation in the Throwdown next year, if we qualify.

I met several AEP members (including my wonderful and energetic mentor Paula Maylahn) who shared their knowledge and made me feel welcome. I’m grateful for the support of the AEP and especially Jim McVety, who provided the scholarship.

The most exciting highlight of the week was accepting four major Distinguished Achievement Awards for Youth Communication’s publications at the AEP Awards Banquet. We won in every category we were finalists in, including “Periodical of the Year.” We’re honored to be the little publisher that won big at the AEP. The awards validate our teen-written stories and boost our credibility. We hope this milestone will ultimately lead to more teachers engaging at-risk teens with authentic stories that are relevant to their lives.

1 Response to “Lessons and Questions About the Impact of the Digital Classroom from the CIC”



  1. 1 Why I’m (Still) Investing in the Education Industry « Educational Publishing Trackback on March 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

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