A Guide to Turning Your Successful Print Product into a Digital Learning Tool

Sean Oakes bio picture Sean Oakes

Your company has a successful print product on its hands, and you’re on the hunt for ways to turn that curriculum into a digital tool. 

On the surface, this seems like good business sense. You know how popular digital tools are with your users; plus, there are no shipping or warehousing costs when you move into edTech. A win-win!

But if you’re used to dealing with print publications—or you’ve only ever built content platforms—you may be unsure of what to do next. 

Below, we outline what it takes to build a brand new edTech product based on content that’s been previously published and vetted. 

This piece will also help you balance your internal and external stakeholders, from the C-Suite down to the original author or curriculum designer. Let’s get started!

Building Your Digital Product Team

Before you can define what kind of learning tool will support your users’ needs, you’ll have to make sure all the right people are in the room.

Here’s a quick break-down of the kinds of stakeholders you’ll likely work with as you translate your print curriculum into a digital tool:

Author or Curriculum Designers

If you still have access to the original author or curriculum designers of your print product, all the better. 

The author is a special kind of stakeholder. But they’re an integral part of understanding the print product’s intended learning outcomes. 

Once you align those outcomes with the content of your new product, you’ll be better positioned to support your users’ needs throughout the design process.

Product planning prompt:

  • How do the print curriculum’s learning outcomes align with what you already know about your user personas?

Internal Editorial or Content Team

Your editorial team maintains the author’s standards as content is translated to a digital product. Is every word choice made within the product correct from the author’s point of view? 

Translating your print curriculum into a new digital product means that you’ll also need to develop new content that supports the user’s experience. 

Your internal editorial or content team may also be responsible for working on UX content, in addition to supporting the author’s original vision.

Product planning prompts:

  • Which tools does your content team need to structure content correctly and input content into the product? For example, this team may need meta tagging tools or XML capabilities, so content can flow directly into your UI.
  • How can you support the content team’s workflow as they input content to your tool?

UX Team

In addition to designing the user experience of your new learning tool, your UX team needs to understand your print author’s intentions on a fundamental level.

Without this knowledge, your UX team won’t know how to translate the print product into a good digital experience. This means they’ll have to conduct additional desk research by digging into books and classroom materials. 

Not only does this work bring the UX team up to speed on the author’s work, but it also helps them better advocate for the user and their experience within your digital tool. 

The UX team can also bring your print author strategically into the design process. By facilitating brainstorming sessions or design thinking workshops with the original author, your UX team can help you collectively reimagine content for your new format.

Ultimately, your UX team builds a bridge between your author’s ideas and how teachers use those ideas in the classroom. This way, teachers don’t have to perform extensive research before using the curriculum in your digital tool. Your UX team has already done the legwork for them!

Product planning prompts:

  • How can I share discovery materials with the UX team so they understand the author’s ideas? 
  • What can I do to help them balance the author’s input with our need for user-centric design?

Development Team

Your development team is your guide to the digital content conversion process. 

With content architecture strategies like meta tagging, they can help you find the right structure for your new digital tool. They’ll also help you spot technology opportunities for content delivery along the way.

Realistically, it can take weeks to identify and usefully tag hundreds or thousands of pieces of content. The earlier you can help your development team tee up this process, the better.

Product planning prompt:

  • How early in the process can I start this activity?
  • Do I have the right technology tools to support the dev team? (i.e. tagging plug-ins like WoodWing)

Managing Stakeholders While Defining Your New edTech Product

From the C-Suite to the author of your original curriculum, everyone has a stake in the development of your new learning tool. 

In order to effectively balance stakeholder input, begin by outlining the intention of the product itself. 

Are you trying to help students better understand a new math principle? Offer professional development for teachers? Decode phonics skills for early readers?

Whatever the big idea for your product happens to be, align your team on the product’s purpose at the outset of the design process. 

With a shared idea of the product purpose in mind, you’ll be able to brainstorm more creative solutions for content presentation and delivery. 

You’ll be better positioned to deliver on the original author’s intended learning outcomes in a brand new format, too.

Product planning prompts:

  • What’s the “big idea” guiding your design and development process?
  • How flexible can you be in the way content is presented and delivered to teachers or students?
  • What opportunities do you see for making your content interactive? 
  • What opportunities do you see for presenting your content in a nonlinear sequence?

How a New Digital Tool Transforms Your Company

2020 made everyone rethink the value of digital products. They’re scalable, easier for your sales team to sell, and less expensive to host.

Remote learning has likely transformed your user journeys, too. Teachers are now well-versed in edTech, and they’re on the hunt for remote learning-ready tools. Students are better than ever at collaborating within digital tools. Even parents have had practice helping their students log into digital tools from home.

In addition to transforming your typical user journeys, creating a new digital tool can also affect the rest of your publishing company. Because of the scale of this potential transformation, it’s important to involve internal stakeholders early in the design process. 

For example, digital learning tools often introduce entirely new revenue models for companies that typically rely on print products. Will you roll out a subscription sales model for your new digital products? How will a new and potentially wider customer base affect your customer service needs?

When it comes down to it, you’re not just transforming a print product into a digital learning tool. You’re also transforming your marketing and sales teams, as well as your internal content and UX teams.

Product planning prompts:

  • Which marketing, sales, and other brand stakeholders can you invite into the discovery or product planning process?
  • Are you defining a new technology need for your company?
  • How will your marketing or sales models change to support this new product?
  • How will your customer service models change to support this new product?
  • What other large-scale implications do you see for your brand’s mission or audience?

It takes a team effort to transform a beloved print product into a new edTech tool. With these product planning prompts, you’ll be able to guide the digital transformation process from start to finish and spot technology opportunities along the way. You’re ready to support the internal changes your company might need to make to market and sell an incredible new digital tool, too. Now it’s time to take the edTech world by storm!

Are you converting your print content into a new edTech tool? Contact us to learn how we put teachers and students at the center of the digital conversion process.

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