Last week’s post on GoalBook raised the question of how educational publishers are approaching digital products for students who need accommodations. The final big educational publisher we will look at, Macmillan Education, and their work to digitize their products sheds more light on this discussion. In contrast to the other big publishers we’ve examined–Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt–Macmillan Education’s materials aren’t targeted to the general population of K-12 students or teachers. While Macmillan publishes curriculum development materials, their expertise is on English Language Learning materials. With their headquarters in Oxford, UK, they also have a concentrated focus on international markets.
Regardless of their focus, Macmillan shows the same dedication to advancing their materials with technology as the other big companies: on their website, they explain that their Digital Publishing Unit is “at the centre of our publishing plans.”
To answer the needs of their international market, Macmillan’s approach to technology must differ from some of the more advanced, all-encompassing and, most importantly, expensive products being developed by Pearson or McGraw-Hill. This is evident with Macmillan’s recent partnership with South African app company Snapplify. The two companies came together to produce an eBook app for South African schools, schools that don’t have the influx of technology in their classrooms as some of the American schools for which Pearson and McGraw-Hill create their products. In Macmillan SA’s eReader app, shown below, students can highlight text, look up words and take notes.
Because the schools Macmillan is creating these products for don’t have the resources available to provide each student with tablets or even individual computers, any digital products they adopt must account for this and still be effective. To do this, Snapplify and Macmillan utilize cloud technology so students can access their personal learning materials and notes from any device when they log on with their unique credentials. In a press release, digital publisher at Macmillan SA Malcolm Seegers explains: “This is a perfect solution for emerging markets where not all students are handed an individual tablet, sometimes one device is shared among 5-10 learners.”
This describes not only international schools, but many US schools as well, and more companies need to follow Macmillan’s lead in trying to make technology accessible and innovative for these audiences.