Archive for the 'Ask An Expert' Category

SIG Funding: Equal parts opportunity and accountability for external providers

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, Jenny House from RedRock Reports discusses SIG opportunities and the accountability that comes with them.

An impressive $546 million is allocated for the current school year for School Improvement Grants (SIG) to turn around low-performing schools. And what’s more impressive? An average of 25% of those funds are going to private sector consultants, known as “external providers” in SIG-speak.

This is an enormous opportunity for the education market. However, SIG funding comes with a caveat: it is equal parts opportunity and accountability.

Continue reading ‘SIG Funding: Equal parts opportunity and accountability for external providers’

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RFPs: How to Make the Most of Every Opportunity

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, RedRock Reports offers advice on how to prepare for and prosper from the increased amount of RFPs issued in the education community.

When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed, it heralded in a new level of transparency for the education community. Education expenditures were opened to an unprecedented level of scrutiny under the new ARRA reporting requirements. As a result, districts that once simply wrote a purchase order began issuing Request for Proposals (RFPs), leading to an increase in education RFPs across the board. And it appears that the increased transparency will not go away when the final ARRA funds are spent this year. Rather, it’s a trend that seems to be gaining momentum.

The increase in RFPs from the education community is an incredible opportunity for companies. But, it can also be overwhelming. Here are some tips to navigate the RFP process to result in winning bids for your company. Continue reading ‘RFPs: How to Make the Most of Every Opportunity’

The Right Stuff…for Education Apps

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, Joseph Pearson, Co-founder of SageMilk LLC, presents his thoughts on how educational publishers can become a valuable presence in the mobile apps market.

The fastest growing communications segment of all time–mobile smartphones and tablets–has created a void for many companies in the business of content. With one out of four cell phones being a smartphone in the USA–a growth rate 10x that of the PC–and the iPad and other mobile devices displacing many laptops, an ever-increasing number of students are using smart mobile devices for everyday activities. There is an estimated half billion dollars in unrealized worldwide demand for educational apps with “the right stuff.”

As with most industries during disruptive market events, the publishing industry is perplexed on how to deal with the opportunity presented by the mobile revolution taking place. With few exceptions efforts to supply the sector with educational apps have been financial failures. This is because most educational apps have been overdone and are ill designed for a mobile platform’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading ‘The Right Stuff…for Education Apps’

The Need for Evidence of Effectiveness

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, RedRock Reports presents their thoughts on why educational publishers need to provide customers with evidence of effectiveness.

Evidence. We used to associate this word with Sherlock Holmes’ murder mysteries.  But these days, evidence is at the front and center of federal education trends.

The Obama Administration is pushing research-based evidence as a key factor in education reform.  Look no further than the recent competitive reform initiatives, such as Investing in Innovation or Race to the Top, to see how evidence is a critical piece of the reform puzzle. And this puzzle piece is crucial for companies with education-related products or services. Continue reading ‘The Need for Evidence of Effectiveness’

Why the Losers Matter, too, in the Race to the Top

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, RedRock Reports presents their thoughts on why educational publishers should be paying as much attention to the losers as the winners in Race to the Top.

In most contests, the winners get all of the attention. And aside from the debacle of New Jersey’s application, this has certainly been the case with the federal Race to the Top competition. However, those losing applications deserve a second look.

Here’s why: states invested weeks, even months preparing their applications and laying out plans for education reform. Reviewers spent an average of 30 hours just reading each application thoroughly. That’s quite telling of the detail in the plans submitted by each state. Continue reading ‘Why the Losers Matter, too, in the Race to the Top’

It’s Time for Us to Overcome the Distribution Juggernaut

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. Here, Glen McCandless of Focus Marketing Inc. presents his thoughts on the distribution issues facing the educational publishing industry.

If educational publishing or selling to schools is your source of income, you have probably been awake at night with “distribution anxiety.” Does the distribution issue belong at the top of the list of the most pressing issues that face companies that sell to educators?  I think so. Maybe you’ve experienced the pain or witnessed some of the symptoms: high cost of sales, flat revenue, and long buying cycles, to name a few. But the ramifications of this juggernaut are more sweeping. Continue reading ‘It’s Time for Us to Overcome the Distribution Juggernaut’

Building Strong Relationships Between Organizations and Independent Contractors

In the AEP blog series, Ask an Expert, experts offer their advice on the most pressing issues facing the educational resource industry. During the 2009 AEP Summit session, “Publishers, Developers, and School Districts: Change Agents in Transformation,” Randi Brill of Quarasan! and Keith Garton of Garton Media Strategy discussed the key role independent contractors play in educational publishing. Here, Kevin Dwyer of Strategic Learning Designs presents his 12 keys to maintaining a strong relationship between publishers and contractors.

Solving business problems that lie outside an organization’s core competencies with outside help is more common than ever before. The trend towards smaller organizations complemented by temporary, outsourced talent has generated a pool of highly skilled professionals available and ready to work. In fact, many AEP members are independent contractors, some newly so. I thought it might be helpful to tease out some of the elements of a strong business relationship.

Like many members of AEP, I’ve worked on both sides of this relationship. I’ve hired contractors, and I’ve been hired as a contractor. I’ve had mostly great experiences as an independent, working with terrific leaders at all levels of organizations. Based on my experiences, the decision to hire an independent contractor / vendor for a short project or for a long-term assignment is as important as hiring any other key employee. Let me suggest some things to consider in building an effective and healthy relationship between contractors and employers. Continue reading ‘Building Strong Relationships Between Organizations and Independent Contractors’


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