Book publisher was looking for ways to increase sales of textbooks in an increasing digital environment in education.
The ultimate solution was to establish the company's own in-house online school, offering online courses that used its textbooks. The process took several years from identification of the problem, through the various steps, to the final solution.
Step 1. Decide on the books to offer digitally. We began with the best-selling textbooks and converted them to the iBook format. By having digital versions of the textbooks available, we were able to add video, audio, and interactivity, such as review exercises and quizzes. This improved the value of the books and allowed the books to be included in a school's digital classroom. The downside was a few years later schools began replacing iPads with cheaper Chromebooks, which did not support the iBook format.
Step 2. Develop courses. We decided to develop courses that already had digital assets (iBooks) and design these courses in HTML rather than the proprietary Mac OS code. Working with the author, a few short courses were offered in the summer as a test.
Step 3. Design the website. Stock images were used in a front page slideshow that depicted online learning. Interior pages included course description, registration, payment, online bookstore, instructor bios, FAQs, information for parents/new students/returning students, and the class page. A secure login process was set up for access to the individual class page which includes a course topic image, summary of course, class schedule, assignments, instructor contact information, and links to the recorded individual classes. Also included on the website was a signup form for a school newsletter.
Step 4. Expanding the online options. At the conclusion of each semester we did a postmortem; what worked, what could be improved upon. We realized that the courses were popular with homeschoolers, but the original market of public schools was not what we hoped. Consulting with a school district in Wisconsin that uses the textbooks, the head of technology explained that they did their own digital conversion of the textbooks for their students. After a few brainstorming sessions, we developed our third online option: online courses for schools. These courses are now offered to school districts that may not have enough students to offer the course in their own schools but can join a virtual classroom with students from other districts to form a class. These courses contain the content of the textbooks, with some extras, and can be led by a district's chosen teacher or option to use an online instructor provided by the publisher. It has become a godsend for small schools with a limited enrollment to offer quality courses.
Marketing the online school used a variety of methods. The number one tool was sending out e-newsletters. These newsletters announced upcoming courses, awards and competitions, and general education news. The mailing list came from signup on the website, signup promotion on the parent company website, and signup sheets at trade shows and conferences. Social media and blog posts were also employed. Handout materials such as fliers, postcards, and bookmarks were distributed at events.
This part of the project utilized custom e-newsletter design, design of graphics or asset procurement and optimization, mailing list management, blog writing and posting, landing page for newsletter information, Facebook posting, collateral design and production.
For more information on this project, please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.