This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College Store News Interview

With the start of the school year there are always news stories about textbooks.  Some of these involve store interviews.  Abbie Shellist, Assistant Director of the University of Tennessee Bookstore via WBIR, their local TV station, provided a great interview for a story that focused on traditional versus digital course materials.  Final quote by the anchorwoman, "It looks like e-books are here to stay." 

If other stores have been involved in local interviews -- please share.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friending the new first-year students

College stores once had near exclusive reach to incoming first-year students.   Today that is not so much the case, with social media and the reach of mobile devices.   Fast Company had an interesting article this week about the importance of building a relationship with these new students, and some suggestions on how to (and how not to) do it.  As technology changes the medium of our core product as well as the transaction mechanism over the next decade the focus now is on market share. 

The Class of 2015, the article notes, are:
hyper-connected, tech savvy thinkers with a budget and their own personal brand to uphold. [...]  Their outlook on life has been dramatically altered by world events and social media. Technology has enabled their own personal brand-building, beginning from the time they were old enough to click a mouse. And when they say something, it’s not a handful of the select few who hear them, it’s hundreds upon hundreds of “friends” with open ears and fingers just itching to text or tweet.
Coupled with this observation, the article provides five pieces of advice for understanding the needs of the new first-year students who will make up the Class of 2015.
  1. HELP THEM EXPRESS THEIR PERSONAL BRAND -- and they will embrace yours.
  2. INTEGRATE ORGANICALLY INTO THEIR WORLD -- and go to where the customer is (i.e., online)
  3. GET IN GOOD WITH THEIR FRIENDS -- and understand social networking
  4. BECOME AN ON-DEMAND BRAND -- aggregate the services they need and make it easy
  5. GET TO KNOW THEM AND DON’T ASSUME -- values change, and trust is more important than ever

Each of the above suggestions in the article is coupled with an example of a "company that is getting it right."  The message here to stores is that if you are not yet thinking about social media, it is just another way in which you are losing out on market share and the relationship which was traditionally the retailer's strength.
Now more than ever it is time to skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Innovation is all about value.

I had the pleasure of telling parts of the NACS/NACS Media Solutions innovation story in two sessions at the ASAE meeting in August.  ASAE is the American Society for Association Executives -- and YES, there IS an association for everything!  Regardless, innovation was a major theme at the conference this year, and one of the interesting aspects of ASAE's approach is the clear definitional link they have between innovation and value.

There is a great blog on innovation excellence that is worth following -- and which will soon be added to our blog roll on the right.  One of the recent posts was about how innovation is all about value.  The posting includes the following quote:
Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into solutions valued above every existing alternative – and widely adopted. [...] Often usefulness comes from what a product or service does for you, and value comes from how it does it. If you’re looking to truly deliver innovative products and services into the marketplace, then once you succeed at the designing and developing the ‘what’, don’t forget to also focus on achieving excellence in the ‘how’.

It also talks about innovation as being more than just about ideas -- and as much about thinking of innovation as idea investment opportunities.  Meaning, that to be successful at innovation we must think about innovation as more than just ideas + execution.  Rather, the author argues that innovation is a product of value creation (i.e., new value for stakeholders), value access (ease with which stakeholders can access the innovation), and value translation (helping/educating people on how the innovation adds value to their lives). 

These aspects of innovation and value have real significance for those of us in the course materials market and can help explain some of the reason why digital course materials have had difficulty in the marketplace.  Things like DRM and a lack of standards for access among content make digital course materials less accessible.  We have also seen that digital course materials require greater consumer education than the traditional format of a book.  We all know how to use a printed textbook more or less, but we have found that digital course materials require more education for consumers, and that when that education occurs, the willingness of students to buy digital course materials increases.

One last piece on this blog post -- a comment from a colleague who is one of the more innovative store managers out there.  He wrote:
Very interesting read. Takes what is typically an intangible concept and adds a practicality that reaches beyond simple "execution" towards excellence and success. It reminded me of the concept of creating a need or market where it doesn't exist yet. One approach is to poll customers and give them what they want, but this is the challenge of identifying (through innovation) something your customers don't yet know they need. This sometimes requires mind reading, but is really about knowing your customer - who they are and how they live, not just what they want. In training & education, this is the "I don't know what I don't know."
I could not have said it better.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The CITE goes Mobile

You can now view The CITE even when you are not at your office.  Use the QR Code below with your mobile device to connect to The CITE's mobile page.  In the year ahead we will be talking more about mobile as a significant emerging trend for retail and course materials.  Thus, it seemed appropriate to make our site more mobile as well. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The CITE returns!

Hi everyone. Sorry for The CITE being on a longer hiatus than originally expected or indicated. Thanks to everyone who sent messages to see if everything was okay and to everyone who came to the site to see if we were posting again. More than 10k of you came back at least once this month to see if posting was active again, and many days had over 1000 unique visitors -- more than a few of you checked back very often! My apologies for making you wait, but thank you for your persistence!

Regular posts have already been scheduled to start showing beginning on Monday (Aug 29)and we should be back to regular daily posts quickly. A great deal has occured in the past two months while we were on hiatus, so we will try to mix some updates of news from the summer in with current events. A few quick items on the blog to point out:

A new look. You will notice a slightly updated look and feel to the page. Hopefully this revised layout will make it easier to use and find information of value.

Ask Your Questions. In addition we will be experimenting with a "community answers" tool over on the right-hand toolbar. Currently, it only seems work for select browsers or if you log in. The latter should not be necessary. If you can see content under the "community answers" label, then your browser works with this widget. Here you can post questions to me or the community. I will work to see if I can resolve the problems with the widget, if not, it will likely get removed. You can always send messages to me directly with your questions.

New Voices. The blog will have some new voices. We have hired a new Emerging Technologies Strategist (Jeong Oh) who will be a regular contributor to the blog. Our Digital Media Specialist (Veronica Gancov) will contribute occasional posts. Our fantastic publication team will hopefully also continue to send stories to me for posting.

Thank you again for your continued interest and support. On to the blogging!!!