Interview | The World in Your Pocket

The old days of stodgy publishing houses are gone. These days, says Bill Evans, “[We are] constantly re-evaluating our content, platforms and delivery.” As founder and CEO of Evan-Moor Educational Publishers, Bill and his company have been “Helping Children Learn” since 1979, publishing high-quality resource materials for both teachers and parents in a wide variety of curriculum areas for grades PreK-8. “Every title is written, edited, and classroom-tested by professional educators for appropriate content and practicality,” he says. And while quality remains a constant, the publishing world is nonetheless rapidly changing, so here Bill answers questions about how that is so and how publishers are keeping up.

Victor: How do your products meet educators’ and students’ needs? 

Bill: We strive to produce educational materials that are aligned with current standards and best educational practices. We also ensure that they are aligned with student interests and motivations. We pride ourselves on our ability to create products that not only build and reinforce basic and complex skills, but also build and reinforce a curiosity about the subjects in which those skills are taught. Whether it’s reading, writing, math, science, the arts, social studies or geography – Evan-Moor products are created to help children learn. And, just as important, they’re designed to help children love learning.

Our resources are designed to help meet the needs of students in specific skill and content areas. With the flexible formats and some explicit instruction, our resources work along with the core curriculum and help differentiate instruction in every key subject area.

Victor: As an educational publisher, how are you adapting to meet the needs of classrooms that are increasingly online and using technology?

Bill: Evan-Moor is a pioneer in meeting the adapting needs of classrooms using technology. For instance, we were one of the first to come out with e-Books for all of our educational resources, even beating major textbook publishers. As a result, more than 400 titles are available at evan-moor.com, now representing more than 55 percent of our online sales.

Additionally, in 2007 we launched TeacherFileBox.com, an online subscription resource for print-on-demand teaching units aligned to standards, grade levels and/or subjects. Now, we offer interactive apps that a teacher can use in her classroom, no matter the technology he/she has: a computer, student tablets, interactive whiteboard or projector.

And, just like every other resource from Evan-Moor, our technology resources are aligned to standards and best educational practices and are easily integrated in the curriculum, saving teachers’ time and helping motivate students to learn.

Victor: Alright, great. Now, could you tell me any more about your apps? 

Bill: Our apps begin with the concepts and teaching strategies from the original print materials that teachers love, and have the added benefit of an interactive platform.We’re able to offer an immersive and engaging experience with the content that was not possible with print counterparts. We’ve designed our apps so that they are content-centric, with no distracting or unrelated animations, overwhelming colors, or wasted pixels. We feel very strongly that technology used to support learning needs to be implemented carefully and considerately. Learning itself is a fun and exciting adventure! We have carefully designed each lesson to maintain focus on the skill that’s being taught by utilizing appropriate interactive elements so that they support the learning experience instead of overwhelm it.

As educators ourselves, we always keep the teacher experience in mind. With clearly labeled buttons and an easy-to-navigate interface, Evan-Moor apps are worry-free and have little or no learning curve. We’ve built in tools that allow for individual teaching styles, and all of our apps include the answer keys and require no prep-time.

Victor: What is the new “Portals” platform?  

Bill: Portals™ is a free learning platform that provides educators with access to the entire line of Evan-Moor interactive apps.  Similar to iTunes, Portals is a centralized application management platform that offers a single access point to all of our apps. With one installation, teachers have the ability to launch purchased applications, or sample new ones as they become available. Portals users install a web-app that constantly checks for and installs updates so that a educators always have the most up-to-date version of our content.

We chose to deliver our apps via an installed client instead of through a browser so that teachers could count on having their teaching tools available regardless of internet connectivity. We want teachers to feel confident that their interactive tools will be available when they need them, regardless of any network or web-server issues that are out of their control.

Victor: Your thoughts on the future of education?

Bill: The landscape of education is changing—rapidly. The very role of a teacher is evolving. The social aspect of communication gives students access to experts in a way that has never been experienced before. Learner-centered experiences are on the rise. Mobile technologies that support anytime, anywhere learning, and distance learning continue to grow exponentially as entire populations of students gain access to programs that have historically been out of their reach. The world and centuries of knowledge are now available in a student’s pocket.

Just as education evolves, so is Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. We are dedicated to making sure that we continue to provide appropriate learning materials to teachers, which means constantly re-evaluating our content, platforms and delivery. We have every intention of continuing to provide the absolute best in educational content as we have for more than 30 years.

Victor: Thank you, Bill!

Bill: Thanks, Victor!

——-

Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: victor@VictorRivero.com

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