DECOM 2008 debates the future for educational publishing

From: Giunti Labs
Published: Mon Nov 10 2008

According to Vijay Kumar, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – and an advisor to India’s National Knowledge Commission – the traditional education model has been based on scarcity and assumed limited educational resources.

Today, he said, the development and availability of open education resources are challenging these assumptions and suggest that that model is changing. This movement is making learning materials more widely accessible – although there are issues related to quality and secondary use, to be addressed.

Kumar was addressing over 100 top level executives - from the learning content industry, international publishing firms, corporate training providers and academic stakeholders engaged in both publishing and open courseware initiatives in schools, universities and corporate training, together with Government policy makers throughout Europe – who were debating the future of the learning content industry and, in particular, its ability to adapt to, and exploit fully, a new generation of educational content production, management, sharing and distribution models.

The debate took place in Sestri Levante, Italy, at the end of October – at The Digital Educational Content Marketplaces conference (DECOM 2008). The event was hosted by leading learning and mobile content management solution provider, Giunti Labs, and the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG). The event’s sponsors were Cegos, Plateau, Cisco, IBM, AxMediaTech - AXMEDIS and SIF Association.

The results of delegates’ deliberations will be summarised in ‘The Sestri DECOM Declaration’. Intended for the EU Commission, the Declaration will outline suggested policy actions to support a transition towards digital content marketplaces for educational publishing in Europe.

Other speakers included Judy Brown, Mobile Learning Researcher at the Institute for Simulation and Training, the University of Central Florida and the founder of the Academic ADL SCORM Co-Lab; Spyridon Pilos, of the European Commission; ELIG’s Sectrary General, Richard Straub, and Fabrizio Cardinali, CEO of Giunti Labs.

In addition, there were educational publishing case studies from Joel Greenberg, of the Open University (OU); Adam Black, of Pearson Education; Ulrich Schmid, of Scoyo GmbH; Bob Bolick, of McGraw-Hill; Tim Hawkins, of Elsevier, and Willem van Valkenburg, of the Delft University of Technology.

Cardinali set the tone for the conference by emphasising that the world economy is changing, with increasing challenges to competitiveness in world markets coming from Eastern economies. He said: "The key to competing globally is innovation and being creative in the application of that innovation."

Greenberg stated that the OU is committed to open source software, open education resources, the personalisation of learning and the ‘social web’. He said: "Traditionally, students adapted to the education system.

"Today, the education system must adapt to the students and their learning preferences. Interoperability standards and new publishing formats such as IMS Common Cartridge will help facilitate this."

In endorsing the move towards mobile learning, Pearson’s Black commented that, every second, three babies are born somewhere in the world whereas, in the same time, 38 mobile devices are sold. He added: "So, regardless of the challenges, we need to take mobile learning seriously as a new channel for delivering educational content and services."

David Worlock, Chief Research Fellow at Outsell, Inc., revealed that Outsell sizes the annual worldwide market for information at $390bn. Commenting on current educational publishing trends, Worlock said that, whereas publishers were used to producing pre-formatted information such as textbooks, nowadays they are building solutions that model the needs of the learners more closely.

"The key issues are self-assessment, continuous assessment and diagnostics," he said. "Customer needs analysis is driving publishers to move towards high degrees of quality assurance and publishing content in several places and formats and then releasing it to customers as appropriate for them.

"In the current economic climate, the educational publishing industry faces three major risks," he added. "First, that all content becomes, or can be made, free; second, the global recession could undermine customers’ spending power, and, third, that opportunities for developing mobile learning materials and technologies are ignored or under-exploited."


About ELIG

The European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) emerged from the eLearning Industry Group (eLIG) in 2007. The original organisation had been inaugurated, in 2002, by the European Union in order to provide input to the EU’s strategy on e-learning.

ELIG is now an open industry group which explores, researches and determines ‘innovation in learning’ throughout the EU. It aims to offer thought leadership in this sector; a communication channel to the learning market, and a network within which members collaborate rather than compete – which it terms ‘co-petition’.

ELIG’s membership encompasses those operating in the fields of technology infrastructure; media; learning content; publishing; learning platforms; software; services providers; research; associations, and user organisations.

About Giunti Labs
Giunti Labs is a leading Online and Mobile Learning Content Management Solutions provider with global headquarters in Italy and offices in London (UK), Frankfurt (Germany), Lund (Sweden), Boston (US), as well as Sydney and Perth (Australia).
Giunti Labs provides a wide range of solutions, in response to any content, learning and knowledge management need, covering:
• 24/7 multi language learning content production
• LCMS and Digital Repository Platforms
• Delivery solutions for mobile & wireless
• Consulting and professional services
Giunti Labs is part of Giunti Group, a leading educational and cultural heritage publisher with roots back to 1841. Over the years Giunti has built a catalogue of huge dimensions (over 7.000 titles) and acquired new brands in Italy and worldwide.
In 2008, Giunti Labs acquired the HarvestRoad Hive digital repository system, which manages any form of content used in online learning, corporate training and knowledge management initiatives. HarvestRoad Hive can interface with practically any ERP, Learning or Course Management System and is already integrated with several commonly used course management systems, authoring and content assembly tools.

Further information from:

Minna Leikas, Giunti Labs, +39 3474435167,
Bob Little, Bob Little Press & PR, +44 (0)1727 860405,
Company: Giunti Labs
Contact Name: Bob Little
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00 44 (0) 1727 860405

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