Transforming Digital Science Publishing at Pearson Education

by Shannon Schimmer, MA Publishing 2016

Guest Speaker: Elizabeth Munns, Content and Learning Delivery Lead (Scrum Master): Science, Pearson Education. 

On February 10, 2016, the Oxford Brookes publishing students were fortunate to hear from a guest speaker from Pearson Education on the topic of Digital Science Publishing. Elizabeth Munns is a Content and Learning Delivery Lead in the secondary science department at Pearson, and shared with us an insider’s look at the digitization of her department and publishing as a whole. We learned of the process Elizabeth and her team followed to create new content for secondary science (ages 11-19) in the UK and what set them apart from their competitors.

What I learned from this lecture could be summed up into three main points:

  • It is important to determine which elements of a project are fixed or flexible before development begins. Elizabeth and her team used the Trade-off Matrix to decide which elements were fixed (early product release), which were firm (the budget) and which were flexible (accredited content). By doing so, they had more reasonable and clear guidelines for their project that made the process of its creation much smoother.
  • Old ways of doing things aren’t always necessarily the best. Elizabeth explained the difference between two workflow models known as Waterfall and Agile. In the Waterfall model the publisher designs, builds and tests the final product with the consumer at the end. The Agile model, however, designs, builds and tests each element of the product with consumers before moving on to the next. This allows Pearson to change the product according to the customer’s needs before project is complete, saving plenty of time and money.
  • Publishers must change and grow along with the needs of the consumer. Pearson education has created programs such as ActiveTeach and ActiveLearn, which provide digital educational experiences including Powerpoints, videos and interactive learning to accommodate the increase in technology in the classroom. This is in addition to the physical text book, which Elizabeth and her department have learned teachers still consider necessary. It’s all about combining old and new!

Throughout Elizabeth Munn’s talk, I was able to relate what she was speaking about to my current studies as a publishing student here at Brookes. Firstly, rather than trying to determine whether print or digital is top dog in publishing, we should be focusing on the integration of the two. Combining old and new can result in the best possible product for many consumers. Also, no matter what content we are developing in our projects and research, the main focus should always be on the customer. We cannot create a successful product if we don’t know what the customer wants and do everything we can to give that to them. Finally, as young publishers, we may not have a comfort zone yet – but it is always important to remember to step outside of it. Trying new things and new strategies may be risky, and may even result in failure, but it is in those failures that we learn what works and what doesn’t so that we can eventually find new and innovative ways of reaching success.

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Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12 Feb 2016 around 12pm

Last edited: 12 02 2016