Our article for BookMachine was originally posted on Monday 6th August here.

We keep hearing that America is a few years ahead of us in terms of technology. If this is the case then UK Publishers, Schools and Educators take note.

A recent report from the The Consortium for School Networking in America has highlighted that schools should be allowing their students to bring their own technology to the classroom to use in the digital education revolution (or is it just evolution?) rather than just for use at break times. Whilst this is a very economic idea for schools it does pose a few problems, not only for the parents who will need to be buying this technology for their kids but it creates a dilemma for Publishers. It essentially means that every digitally published work will need to work in the same way on every digital device. This is a big headache for publishers, particularly educational publishers, who are creating digital components for their courses

So how can publishers prep for the inevitable, if BYOT is inevitable? Well something that has been banded about a lot and Chris Book (of Bardowl – audiobook subscription model) mentioned at Publish New Players was to ensure that digital products are platform agnostic. Which as far as technology goes at the moment would mean to be producing web based content that can be accessed via the net (ie HTML 5).

If educational publishers are going to have to produce digital components for any device or platform they are going to need to be slightly more ahead of the technology game than some currently are if they are going to remain competitive. And one of the biggest issues that faces educational publishers in terms of lagging behind technology is the incredibly long lead time most courses have. In some cases publishers are having to second guess what technology will exist 2-3 years in the future. With the rapid rate of technological advancement not ceasing to slow down any time soon the current educational publishing model is either going to have to change dramatically or accept that products will not be the most advanced. Fortunately for educational publishers the education sectors (particularly in the UK) are not able to afford the latest technology, but if schools do adopt a BYOT approach digital components will need to function on any device. Or hope that only one device wins the race!