Discontent over Content: T.H.E. Journal Is Bringing Together Groups from the Print, Digital, and Tech Worlds to Discuss the Future of Educational Publishing

Article excerpt

THERE IS AN INTERESTING PARALLEL between changes afoot in the journalism business and the shifts taking place in the education business. In journalism, thousands upon thousands of people are "reporting" news via blogs. Some observers are saying this explosion of user-generated content threatens the very existence of newspapers and magazines. Others argue that as people depend upon content that has not been vetted and edited, they will be exposed to fraud and falsehoods, and begin to value what the editorial structure brings to traditional publications.

Still others, such as Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland, believe that the fundamental process of gathering and disseminating news is changing. In November, she wrote in a blog: "Heading into the future, news becomes less of a concrete deliverable ... and ... more of an ongoing process of imparting and learning about information. The process of involvement in the news ... becomes as important as the output."

Similar themes are at the heart of the debate on textbooks. A few but growing number of educators want all content delivered digitally, they want it interactive and flexible, and they want to pick and choose chapters or parts of chapters to use in their classrooms. Text book publishers claim that they produce high-quality, researched curriculum, and that dividing it up destroys the fidelity of implementation required for success. They say they add value through accurate, vetted content, edited and packaged for learning. …