Thursday, March 19, 2009

Journalists, the PRinternet, and fixing education

Since new developments in Print tech are coming fast and furious, most of my focus the last two weeks has been at Tough Love for Xerox, where I blog for the Print industry. But I think today's post would be interesting for printers on the ground and newspaper people. So I'm reproducing it here.

The post follows:

This has been a very interesting week and it's only Thursday.

The outlines of the PRinternet are becoming more clear. Pull Printing in the UK showed what it can look like within the enterprise. The Time/Lexus collaboration demonstrated how it might play out in the service of helping dealers sell cars. The New York Times has mainstreamed hyper local journalism. Oce is replacing web offset presses with digital presses for a newspaper publisher in Spain.

And Vertis. Are they the UUnet of the PRinternet?
from Wikipedia:
UUNET was one of the largest Internet service providers and one of the nine Tier 1 networks. It was based in Northern Virginia and was the first commercial Internet service provider. Today, UUNET is an internal brand of Verizon Business (formerly MCI).
What if FSI's were redesigned so that they could "sell" learning, as effectively as they sell groceries? Given that Print is now embedded in an internet world, it's possible to use just the right tool for just the right job at just the right time. I would be glad to point to any of a number of design studios who could solve the visual part of this problem.

To be clear, my passion is to fix High School education in the United States. My focus is the fifty percent of our children who drop out of High School and educating our very large incarcerated population.

Below is an imaginary story written about the PRinternet and Education. Here's the link to the real AP story about Time/Toyota at Yahoo.

Imagine if . . .

XYZ Inc. is experimenting with a customized magazine that combines teacher-selected sections from eight domains as it tries to deliver in Print the right content in the right form at the right time to high school dropouts.

Called "ours," the 15-issue, 15-week experiment aligns content with the high school curriculum determined by National Education Standards. The content is presented in the form of stories developed by editors and journalists at (AP? Reuters? New York Times?) It's as customizable as the recent Time, Inc/ Toyota collaboration.

The content is free online, but participating school boards purchase print copies for their students. It's available around the globe in English and Spanish. Other languages are being planned.

Sign-ups are available 24/7 365. Classes do not have to begin in September and end in June. Whenever and wherever a class starts, each student can access a digital edition that looks just like the printed version, but in a special format that allows virtual page turns with clicks.

Teacher/mentors can select five subject areas from nine created by the network of journalists working with The National Education Standards Board, World History, Community History, Philosophy, Law and Civics, Science, Mathematics, Visual Arts, World/Community Literature, Anthropology. The list of sub - specialties will grow as local needs are co-ordinated with local news networks.

Educators + editors will pre-select the stories that make it into every weekly issue, and students won't have the option of changing the picks from issue to issue. Summary quizzes are included in each issue. The quizzes are in a machine readable format so that the data can be stored, accessed and provide ongoing assessment of student progress.

There are 56 editorial combinations in all. Based on surveys by the on site teachers, who pull the content from the Cloud by filling out an online survey, the students will also find special items that are needed by that class during that week of delivery.

A sample message tag line for a 16 year old student named Steve, who lives in Los Angeles and loves basketball might be "Hey Steve, your friends will be really impressed when you learn from Magic Johnson's story everything you need to know to succeed on the court . . . and in life." It would be accompanied by snippets from the book. The full text of the book is available in the school library, the public library, on the web, can be downloaded to an e-reader, or delivered in paper to the student in class.

The Commissioner of Education in ABC state, which came up with the idea, will be the lone message manager and will buy four full pages of messages for each 36-page magazine. The message ads will be focused on low cost college opportunities, career paths for non college bound students, suggestions for entrepreneurial paths, and local apprenticeship/intern openings.

"I wouldn't call this an public service announcement, this goes much beyond this," said Ms. XYZ, Coordinator of Education Delivery. "Our message of 'the power of knowledge' and ' learning means winning" will come through a lot stronger."

Without specifying, Ms. XYZ said the venture did not cost more than other teaching/learning campaigns. She suggested that the potentially higher costs of individualized printing will be easily accommodated by redirecting dollars from the textbook and professional development budgets. In addition, some of the new Federal education money helps with the necessary proof of concept projects, until they get to scale.

The State, Local school district and Department of Education plan extensive research on how students, parents, teachers and administration react to the textbooklet magazine series.

Ms. XYZ, Co-ordinator of Education Delivery , said the magazine series strikes the right balance between student choice, classroom teacher mentoring and the school district's editorial control.

"This is the most unique project that we've ever done. It combines clear curricular content with the power of fitting the content to each student in each class." she said.

The "ours" experiment represents the latest effort by traditional educational organizations to appeal to students increasingly accustomed to picking and choosing what they see on the Internet. Online computer education, through growing, hasn't yet delivered on the promise of better outcomes for the bottom of the pyramid. Personalized print products could help fill some of the gap.

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