Biz-Community (Cape Town)

23 October 2012

South Africa: Launch of OS-Agnostic Digital Textbook Publishing Platform

According to Eish Digital, partners of Yudu Education, the global system is the first digital textbook publishing platform that enables educational publishers to seamlessly digitise, optimise and deliver multimedia textbooks for access on tablet, laptop and desktop computer.

In addition, it allows students and instructors to annotate, bookmark and take clippings of content, and even integrate supplementary materials, all of which are instantly synchronised to the Yudu cloud for access on any device.

"This solves the biggest challenge of the bring-your-own-device era for both publishers and students looking for cross-platform access," says Yudu CEO, Richard Stephenson. "Students may need to read and take notes on a Windows PC in the classroom, but then want to pick up where they left off on their iPad at home. Alternatively, perhaps the school provides iPads for classroom use, but the student has an Android tablet or maybe a laptop, at home. With most publishing platforms, this is impossible. This system makes it possible."

Gail Hoffmann, managing partner of Eish Digital, says, "We are thrilled to be able to help organisations in Southern Africa to continue to develop the way education is delivered to both youth and adults. The Yudu Education platform, once downloaded, allows content to be available offline, which is a great benefit for South Africa where access is not always readily available."

Publishers in control

Described as the first system that puts the needs of publishers and students first, it provides access to content from anywhere on any device and enables publishers to sell directly to a broader audience.

Amazon, iBook and other platform-specific systems lock publishers into a singular OS, forcing them to recreate content in order to offer it on multiple devices. In addition, these systems put the platform operator in control of the customer relationship, preventing publishers from accessing valuable consumer data.

The system puts publishers in control of their own content without having to build their own high-end digital publishing platform. Moreover, unlike other digital textbook platforms, it allows publishers to maintain a direct relationship with the customer.

"In Ireland, around 10% of all new middle school students are using a device to read textbooks," says Conor O'Sullivan, education technology manager at Folens. "While the majority of students are using iPads, there are a number of Android devices in use and there are also schools running with Windows netbooks. Yudu has been able to provide us with a system, which caters for all three. As a mainstream publisher, it is important that we can provide our educational content on every type of device for all students. It would cost us a fortune to build this type of platform ourselves."

Digital publishing made easy and affordable

The web-based portal makes it easy for publishers to publish rich, interactive books in a matter of minutes. An existing textbook, supplied in PDF format, is digitised with added animations, videos, hyperlinks and more. The digital textbook immediately appears in the publishers' digital store. Edits, revisions and updates can be made at any time and published immediately.

"The system makes it easy and affordable for publishers, school districts and students to keep up with the rapid pace of technology and protect their investment with a future-proof solution," says Stephenson. "With the system, users don't have to worry about committing to a specific device or operating system that might be gone tomorrow."

Rather than a per-book sales fee that penalises publishers for being successful, the system pricing is based upon the number of pages published, making administration simple and maximising revenue. An annual maintenance fee ensures continuously updated technology to accommodate the latest OS upgrades on every platform.

Optional modules are also available for in-book testing, teacher management and customisation that allow teachers to edit notes within the textbook and share with the entire class. The platform is exceptionally easy for teachers to use with an intuitive interface through a simple app download.

The system is built upon the company's well-established technology that is trusted by some of the world's top publishers, including Weldon Owen, Random House, HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill and Folens. The global platform supports virtually any language, giving publishers the ability to deliver native-language editions anywhere in the world.

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