Blue-Sky Thinking at the Content in Context Conference

The 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, 2011 scholarship winner Allie McKay, Acquisitions Editor for IB Publishing reflects on her experience at the CIC and offers advice for those interested in the Talent Development Scholarship program and/or attending CIC for the first time.

The term “blue sky” has a range of associations—from severe sun and heat to unbridled creativity and innovation. While it could be argued that the Content in Context Conference conjures up the former association (it does take place in June in Washington DC after all!), I took away a much more refreshing “blue sky” perspective from the event. Much is possible when such an array of industry thought leaders convene, and it was a privilege for me to be part of it, thanks to the Talent Development Scholarship sponsored by First Step Advisors.

Coming from a relatively small publishing division within a non-profit organization, the International Baccalaureate, I was curious to see how our team’s goals and initiatives would compare to those of much larger educational publishers like McGraw-Hill and Pearson. It was valuable to learn first-hand from these publishers’ cutting-edge ventures, but it was also interesting to see that we were facing some of the same questions—how to tackle metadata, e-books and apps, changing business models, and Common Core standards.

Despite this haze of issues in the educational publishing industry, blue-sky-inspired innovation was the true focus at the CIC, and it was the most energizing part of the conference for me. Hearing about entrepreneurs’ concepts for new educational products during the “Innovation Throwdown” reminded me that successful ideas often start off small and grow with constructive feedback and nurturing. In IB Publishing, we are striving to evolve our range of products in a similar way—starting small but with an aim toward wider and more innovative possibilities.

Perhaps the best example of blue-sky thinking at the CIC Conference came during the final session, in which two teachers shared their views on educational resources and how educational publishers could better support them. Customizability, interactivity, and originality were their recommendations, which echoed those that we often hear from IB teachers as well. These may seem like tall orders for publishers, especially as we sort through complex technologies and business models, but the lofty expectations of these teachers—and, ultimately, of students—are certainly worth reaching for. I have no doubt that the 2012 Content in Context Conference will highlight inspiring new ways to endeavor into these possibilities.

1 Response to “Blue-Sky Thinking at the Content in Context Conference”



  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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