Ahead of her presentation at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in San Francisco on December 5 & 6, we spoke to Stacy Treco, VP, Director of Digital Strategy at Pearson Education about the state of digital publishing.
In her three-decade publishing career, Stacy never looked over her shoulder to see what the competition was doing. Her focus has been on the pursuit of innovative excellence. This characteristic helped to catapult her career from sales rep to National Sales Manager, and from Marketing Manager to Director of Marketing. After a number of stellar growth years launching an unprecedented number of successful first editions, her Marketing domain was extended to all of the quantitative disciplines in higher education including Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Business and Economics.
Stacy recognized the promise of digital innovation to higher education and created a new position, VP, Director of Digital Strategy, that allowed her to bring student and faculty voices into digital content development. Stacy now applies her focus on innovative excellence to developing content for digital learning environments. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two teenage children.
Innovation Enterprise: How has content distribution changed since digital became the norm?
Stacy: We’ve offered electronic versions of our texts for decades now. However, as I publish in the higher education Science space where many courses are 2 or 3 semesters long and quite rigorous, most students still prefer to own a hard copy print text. With all new print books sold, we include access to the etext in conjuction with our online homework system, and students who take advantage of it appreciate the convenience. We also offer an etext app that is mobile and accessible and offers offline use, which makes access to their course materials extremely convenient.
The majority of Science faculty now prefer to assign homework online and I’ve had the good fortune of working on the Mastering platform, the leading online homework system in the Sciences with over four million student users annually. Many faculty attribute 10-20% of the total course grade to the work done within the Mastering online homework system.
On the instructor side, we offer all the supplementary teaching materials such as PowerPoint slides for lecture, art files from the text for presentation purposes, test item files, etc. in digital form, and digital is now the primary format for distribution. We also often send review copies of the text via electronic means.
Are you utilising SEO - if so, what strategies have you implemented?
SEO is built into the Pearson website as well as our homework platforms. Pearson’s Mastering platform is the leading online homework system in the Sciences with over four million student users annually. Pearson has a Global Marketing function who focus on SEO.
How are you exploring the multi-media options available nowadays including video, AR and VR?
Video and animation has been a crucial part of our offerings for decades. Science often involves learning about something that’s impossible to see with the naked eye, spans huge distances or time periods, or a complicated scientific process—and all this learning is served well by video and animation. Our challenge now is converting our legacy assets into fully mobile and accessible assets—a journey we’ve been on for over 3 years and have made great strides.
Pearson has started to explore VR and AR delivery and has recently spun up a new Immersive Products team who are partnering with external companies to create content that supports VR devices.
How are you monetizing your content and why have you pursued this strategy?
The key to successful sales in the college publishing industry is if your product is required by the faculty—listed on the syllabus and reinforced during the first day of class. If students know that the instructor expects them to read the text and they will be tested on the content from that text (not just the instructor’s lecture notes), the student will purchase the text. If students are required to do homework within an online homework system for a portion of their grade, students will buy that access. We invest heavily in the content for the text and the online homework system.
How do you ensure you are creating platform-specific content whilst maintaining a high quality content output?
The higher education Science community has no tolerance for accuracy issues. If the content is not written by someone with authority in their field, and then thoroughly reviewed by a multitude of full-time faculty teaching the course at accredited universities, the content will never sell. We maintain a high level commitment to exceptional quality content regardless of medium.
Pearson’s focus is on creating high quality content that can be used both online and mobile – our goal is to support multi-channel distribution.
How are you fostering your staff to ensure a digital-first culture?
We are hiring more staff with digital skills (software product managers, technical product managers, engineers, Q/A, learning design, instructional design, data scientists, educational researchers, efficacy specialists, etc.) over more traditional editorial roles. On the production side, we are hiring staff with digital production experience who demonstrate strong project management, communication and organizational skills. The production staff has transitioned to working in a fully electronic workflow, as have many of our authors. We outsource traditional, hands-on production services such as copyediting, proofreading, composition as well as manufacturing to allow for more in-house staff with digital experience.
The line has blurred between content platforms and content producers - as a traditional publisher how are you adapting to this industry change?
Our medium of content delivery is shifting from print to digital certainly. However, as purveyors of Science content, we employ similar processes regardless of the medium. Our content requires an authorial voice, subject matter experts, content reviewers highly regarded within the higher education academic communities, accuracy reviewers, proofreaders, copyeditors, etc. Basically, the exceptionally high standard required for Science content in higher education is medium-agnostic.
You can see Stacy's presentation at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in San Francisco on December 5 & 6.