Higher Education in the Information Age

Distance Education and Globalization I

Martin Kenney


Michael Eleey: We continue now with another player in the marketplace. Martin Kenney was named Executive Vice President of the Education Group at Simon and Schuster in May of 1995. At the same time he was appointed President of Simon and Schuster's recently formed Education Technology Group. Within these roles, he has group-wide operating responsibilities, including the investment and development of technology across all of Simon and Schuster's education businesses. Prior to joining Simon and Schuster, he was an executive with JB Lippencott, the Institute of Scientific Information, Philadelphia, and McGraw Hill. Martin.

Martin Kenney: What I'd like to do today in the ten minutes that I've been allotted is to try to contain some of the enthusiasm that I do have for this, particularly the topic that we're talking about today. First of all, I represent the publishing community, which you may have certain predispositions about, but if you take a look at the word publishing in the dictionary, you have to go down to about the third definition before you hit the word print, which basically means publishing is to make information public, and that's what the new role of the publisher is today. We are the world's largest educational publisher and the largest educational technology publisher. When we heard Pinchas this morning, he said a couple of things that I just want to digress a bit before we get into some specific information on the higher ed. market as it pertains to what we're going to talk about today. He said that he had trouble convincing people that this was a business, that distance education, as he calls it, is a business, and that we might learn a lot from young children's use of the technology and their reaction to it. And so with that theme, I just want to digress a bit and talk a little bit about what some of you had asked him as questions for the future, what some of you had talked about as things to come, and maybe a little bit of reality of what's happening in the educational marketplace.

Educational technology for Simon and Schuster and digitally delivered information in video, custom text, and data base is north, well north, of a 200 million dollar business. Now that's a business that started just five years ago. That's a business that started with a small software acquisition to do distance learning and to do on-site learning based on an algorithm developed by Dr. Patrick Suppes of Stanford University, and added to that with other delivery modes that made sense for the management in the classroom and also the delivery of instruction. Basically, what we have done is we are on the road to providing, and we provide this in 4,000 schools right now, broadcast instruction of, not what we can distance education: on demand learning. This means it's not predicated on when the provider is ready to broadcast, but when the instructor or the student needs the information. This means custom video. This means ancillary data bases, this means custom print. This means software programs that manage education in the classroom and actually allow the teacher to be a coach, allow the teacher to be a partner in the educational process.

Now, again, I say that we might learn from children in this. We right now are digitally delivering materials to 14,000 schools in the United States. Still a small number in the total number of schools, school buildings, but certainly we're learning a lot. We have a 30-year longitudinal study that is going on now on how kids learn with technology, and we monitor 20-30,000 children every week. That, to my understanding, is probably the longest running longitudinal study in how kids learn that exists today. And we have lessons that we can take when we talk about higher ed. that follow in that partnership idea. We as publishers don't know everything there is to know. We provide a service and a partnership with the educational community to develop meaningful instruction, and I might add, more than that, meaningful staff development, mentoring systems, and in-service programs that allow technology to be successfully used in the classroom. And I think this is really important. We've talked a lot about, and you've heard talked a lot about, technology education and how it can, you know, kind of level the playing field if you will and provide information that certain parts of the country, either geographically or demographically, would not be able to access. But it's really useless without the kind of staff development, in-service, and mentoring systems that are needed in the classroom to bring teachers into the mix. It is a basic difference. It's a difference in the way the content is provided and the way the content is taught. It's a real difference that's going on right now, and when it's done well it is very powerful. And when technology funding ends at the infrastructure, it is a disaster. I mean, an unmitigated disaster. And it's one of the things that we've been pushing, one of the things that we think is extremely important. In the schools where we have provided the training, both distance and on-site, those schools have done quite a bit better.

Anyway, that gives you an idea of what we're doing in the L-I area, and I would like to turn now to our higher education initiative. As most of you know, we're the largest higher education publisher in the world, and with that we are a partner of yours today already. Now this is admittedly low-tech, very low-tech, but basically what this will tell you is we are partners with you right now. Given the traditional delivery of education, we have over 30,000 active titles right now in higher education. We produce 2,000 new titles per year. I will tell you that in the past three years, we have done significant investment, and all those titles are digitized. Now that has significant ramifications as most of our new textbooks have Web sites that are attached to them. This has broadened the access to not only the professor using the book, but also the author and also a cadre of students who are working on the same project at the same time in the same class. It has opened up a communication that heretofore had not existed.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because most of you know that the breadth of our publishing content goes across all the major disciplines. Although I was interested last night to have somebody stop me and say, "You know, the problem I have with college publishers is that they all want to go after the survey courses and don't spend a lot of time on the advanced courses." And I'm happy to say that our catalog of advanced courses is not only robust, but the technological components that go along with this and our ability to broadcast, to go on line, and also to deliver custom print has given us an opportunity to tailor courses in a much more specific way than we would ever have done with print by itself.

The one buzz word I guess I can give you on this is that basically our position in the past, as with most publishers, was to provide and revise content. Now it's a business of content renewal, which is significant. It is not content revision; it is content renewal, and it's done on a real-time basis, because our customers and our influencers demand that. The speed at which they demand information and communication and direction on how to get through the volumes of information out there, i.e. the editorial process that we provided in the print world, as that transfers to technology this is much, much more important, especially as a differentiater to us in the publishing area.

You know, there's much to be done, and our partnership is evolving, and that's something that I'll talk about in a second here. Most of our relationships in the past have been individual or faculty author relationships. That's changing today. A lot of our content relationships now are with institutions. We were one of the early supporters of the Western Governors Association. We also have projects going with Case Western, Harvard, and Columbia. So there are-and that's just to name a few of the alliances that we've been involved with. The institutional partnerships that we've developed today are focused on exploring partnership models for developing and delivering courseware, and that's key. So it's not just the development of courseware, but we also have the wherewithal, through transponders that we own, through the up-link facilities, through 28 studios that we have in one of our divisions on the on-line capabilities, to actually participate in the delivery with you. There's much to be done, as I said before, about the development and delivery, but it's one where the partnership-we get to understand what your needs are, and it's been beneficial to us.

As I said momentarily ago, partnership will evolve to include the delivery. The use of the technology will drive the pace and the course of change. We have a lot of businesses coming to us directly with opportunities to do training at the workplace which sound a lot like what used to happen at the university venue. So this is something where people are coming to us, and our development is skewing this way, too. Our role in the development of planning as we see it is not one to one, not one to many, but many to many. And that's a model that we see really proliferating.

I'll just talk in closing about the future of our partnership, and I'll do it under this guise. As we see this going forward, to be very honest with you, we are still learning. Now, you may think that north of 200 million dollars we've learned a little up to now, but one of the things we've learned is that we still are searching for that right blend of the management of the instruction, the management of the content, the constant renewal and needs of the content provided, and the servicing of our customers. When it comes to people who have never been to an art museum or--you heard about Bill Gates developing a digital content for art? We certainly are in partnerships right now to be able to do that in conjunction with our history of art books, in conjunction with the elementary programs that we provide. The ability to digitize content has allowed us to float it across not only many disciplines, but many customer sets. We've been given ten minutes to do this, and I told you I have a tough time containing myself, so I kind of rushed there towards the end, but I will tell you that this is a reality. This is a coming reality because it's requested by the customer. The technology is allowing us to do things with content that we have never done before, but it is happening now, and it's an exciting place to be. Thanks.



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Last modified: 26 January 1998