By Monica Malhotra kandhari, MD, MBD group
The role of good quality textbooks in the formative years of a child is one that cannot be ignored. With an estimated 95% of the publishing industry in India directly catering to schools, colleges, universities and research – including technical, medical, and professional education. Education publishers publish a wide-ranging variety of materials on subjects for schools, colleges and other levels of learners. With the need for quality in text books and learning materials on the one hand and the accelerated momentum in digital education especially in online learning , education publishers play a critical role in research, compilation, design, printing, distribution and now in digitising their contents while ensuring that high quality standards are being maintained.
As the adoption of ed-tech platform and digital learning increases over the years and the pandemic Covid-19 acting as an accelerant causing a seismic shift to online learning. National and international publishing houses are exploring newer ways to ride the change. Physical books and online learning will go hand in hand and the future of learning is hybrid, claims the industry. The impact of this shift to digital is likely to last beyond the COVID crisis, availability of educational contents digitally will be the new norm and educational publishers must adapt to the change. Infact most publishers have made their online libraries available for digital access and have also adopted innovative methods to stay relevant during the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
Educational publishers also play an important role in supporting teachers by way of workshops, trainings, teacher resource material, lesson plans, digital content, web support, question papers, worksheets, etc. Besides this, the publishing industry is an important employment generator, employing editors, content creators and developers to create international quality content. Apart from that, they create employment for authors, graphic designers, data entry operators, artists, visualizers etc.Also, it may be well noted that the publishing industry also drives direct employment for a large number of people in the printing presses, paper manufacturing, logistics and supply chain functions in various roles such as, machine operators, binders, supervisors, etc.They also play an important role in augmenting the government’s education initiatives bysupplyingeducational books at low prices. Despite the government publishing their own text books, textbook prices in India are amongst the lowest in the world, even lower than some developing nations. The large number of students in India and the volumes enable private publishers to provide textbooks at fairly low prices.
Role of educational publishers has evolved beyond traditional printing of books to include offerings such as tailor-made learning experience to the unique needs of individual students based on a process of continuous feedback and evaluation through adaptive learning. This approach to learning provides an efficient, effective and engaging path to learners that is constantly customised based on the progress and learning outcomes achieved by the individual learners.AASOKA – the learning app by MBD group is driven by the latest research in pedagogy and innovations in teaching methodology provides animated content for Grades K-12. Video lectures using multimedia-rich 2D and 3D content engage students’ attention and curiosity, encouraging and motivating them to study more. The Adaptive Assessments feature of the app customises assessments for each individual student based on their competency level derived from the result of the most recent test taken.
Self-learning through online contents including educational videos offers learners immense flexibility in learning at a time and place of their convenience and also in repeating the module as often as desired.Educational publishers have themselves developed such digital platforms or tied up with ed-tech companies to provide necessary contents and offer customisation option.Educational publishers have also digitised contents that offer homework help for students and have introduced semester or term books in the digital format.Homework assignment portals provided by some publishers enables teachers to easily assign and evaluate at-home projects.
Another contribution of educational publishers that has a huge impact but is often overlooked is their role in improving employability, industrial progress, and economic growth. A well-researched and curated educational book often transcends the boundaries of a classroom and are a potent self-improvement tool in the hands of a willing learner. While English continues to dominate the educational publishing scene, publishers are well aware of the huge demand for educational contents in regional languages and are developing a vibrant market for the same. With the all-important role of furthering the cause of learning and education, educational publishers are adopting a blended approach not only in language and format but also an integrated approach through both online and offline publishing.