“The next big thing…” is a big promise and the one being made by McGraw-Hill Higher Education as they begin rolling out the latest version of their Connect online content, now integrated with the Blackboard learning management system (promo video — marketing site).
After working on “the next big thing…” in educational technology for Pearson Education several years ago maybe you’ll understand why I’m a skeptic, but now that I’ve spent the past several months working with McGraw-Hill Higher Education’s first-rate UX Group on the architecture of the Connect-Blackboard platform, I have a different perspective. Today, I think McGraw-Hill is on the right track.
This contradicts some of what Lee Wilson voiced in his post The Web is Breaking Big Publisher’s Business Model last week, but I’ll split the difference and can support both points of view. While Lee asserts there’s “a fundamental shift in the instructional materials industry, away from the scale economics [...] to the value of niche focused expertise..,” the combined Connect-Blackboard product has the potential to deliver both niche and scale — chunks of curriculum (expertise) on one of the leading learning management systems (economies of scale, established channels). Can McGraw-Hill marketing rise to the challenge of a flexible pricing model that works for students, school and publisher?