At EdBooks, our mission is to develop high-quality learning content that is both affordable for students and self-sustaining from a business perspective.
We want to make a difference by making learning affordable. At the same time, we want our company impact to be long-lasting, which means having sustainable development processes and business models.
We’ve designed our products to be high-quality, competitive replacements for traditional textbooks, as well as effective frameworks for online and hybrid teaching.
Our products feature engaging media, rich interactivity, and learner-driven explorations. We offer digital/print options and provide support for accessibility. EdBooks editorial and production processes combine traditional editorial workflows with the now familiar practices of agile software development.
But How Much Should a Textbook Cost?
More specifically, how much should our mediabooks cost?
We recognize that textbook costs are something students bear as part of their education, and we’re committed to keeping those costs as low as possible. Our goal is to keep our development costs low while providing the best possible content to support students in their courses and life learning.
So, what is the lowest possible price we can charge for these high-quality products while ensuring the stability and sustainability of our efforts to make education affordable?
Our answer is that a good textbook should cost less than $20.
At a global scale, it should cost between $10-$15.
This means that, in coming years, students will pay the same price for textbooks that they would for popular fiction titles.
Because our products are created for learning, they should also remain part of a student’s learning library for life. Learners should retain their notes, journal explorations, and also receive any product updates so that they can continue learning.
Designing, Delivering, and Refining High-Quality Mediabooks for $19
How can we create high-quality products and offer them at such low prices and still be able to sustain and scale a traditional company?
It’s all about design and process.
At EdBooks we begin product development with a rigorous design phase focused on product flexibility, quality, and efficacy. This phase ensures that we have a clear product purpose and integrated product framework in place before we begin building our mediabooks.
Learning Design: This phase begins with the creation of a learning environment model or template that will move learners from contextualization to agency and mastery. Our learning environment is also designed to support the EdBooks Stackable LessonsTM model, which means creating each lesson as a stand-alone, self-contained learning experience.
Curriculum and Information Design: We create each mediabook as part of a larger curriculum rather than as a siloed, disconnected product. This entails identifying concepts across a curriculum area, analyzing concept relatedness within that area, and ensuring that we are maximizing potential connectedness of our content across the entire curriculum. This process involves the build out of concept taxonomies and rules for our concepts, as well as the ongoing evaluation of concept usage by instructors and learners.
Platform Design: In our platform design work, we ask how technology can be utilized to reinforce the effectiveness of our content and learning design. How does it support ownership of the learning process? How can it promote individual exploration and application of information? How does it deliver flexible ease of use? How do we deliver digital and print formats, allow learners to work online or offline? How do we ensure that our media books are accessible to everyone? These questions guide the development of our technology solutions as well as our broader thinking about content delivery and access.
Product Design: The core EdBooks product is our Stackable LessonTM. This is a self-contained learning experience designed to guide students toward ownership and mastery of a specific topic or concept. Our unique design makes it easy to reuse or recombine lessons from the same curriculum area, as well as build collections across curriculum areas, without having to rewrite or customize individual lessons. This innovative approach to content creation also affords EdBooks significant time and cost efficiencies with regards to product development.
Process Design: The design phase also includes extensive process design, which allows our teams to coordinate efforts and maximize efficiencies. This results in tighter integration between content creation, editing, and production, as well as strong quality assurance and shorter development timelines overall.
Production and Implementation Phase
After completing the design phase, we begin the actual product construction process.
Content Curation and Authoring: This phase begins, naturally, with content. EdBooks works with internal and external subject matter experts to curate open materials and to author original lesson content. Authors work within the learning design parameters of our Stackable LessonsTM model, which requires all content to be authored or adjusted to meet the requirements of our learning environment design. EdBooks’ use of a consistent content authoring model, along with its combination of internal and external content contributors, allows the company to produce draft lessons quickly and efficiently.
Editorial and Quality Assurance: Our editorial team takes a layered approach to the editing and development of lesson content. This begins with initial copyediting and product checks for length, voice, and general consistency. Next, developmental editors complete a thorough review and development pass. This includes fact-checking and term normalization, work on content consistency and flow, and ensuring that a lesson adheres to core learning design principles and outcomes.
Media Design and Production: As soon as content is submitted to editorial, we begin simultaneous activity related to media development and media curation. EdBooks creates unique learning video for each lesson. In addition, our media and production teams begin curating and creating images or other media assets while editorial works through its content development process.
Final Production and Implementation: Our Stackable LessonsTM model allows us to produce individual lessons immediately as they are released by the editorial team. Moreover, since each lesson is its own independent learning container, the production team can work on lessons in any sequence, always looking for maximum efficiency. This flexibility also extends to the production of specific product components, such as printable versions of each lesson.
Iteration and Improvement Phase
Because EdBooks is building a focused library, to a general education curriculum, we can employ a product development model based on the principle of initial release and continual improvement.
User Feedback and Iteration: EdBooks allows every user to provide feedback on specific content or features at the point of use. In addition, the company evaluates anonymous, aggregated usage data to validate internal assumptions about content and features. As feedback is received, product and editorial teams meet and work to make updates. In addition, the EdBooks editorial team conducts ongoing content reviews to look for areas of improvement or expansion. Our product model and technology platform allow such changes to be implemented quickly and continually.
Market Research: The company is also committed to working with advisory teams — instructors, teachers, and curriculum developers — from each curriculum area to address the question, “How can we improve teaching and learning in our mediabooks?” Our goal is to engage in frequent, ongoing dialogues to help us work diligently to provide products that improve constantly.