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November 05, 2013

Publishing

Iterative publishing in ELT - 10 pros and cons

ELT PublishingThe latest over on eltjam is an article that lists 10 reasons why iterative publishing - the default model for websites - both will and won't work for ELT.

One of the big buzzwords in ELT publishing at the moment is iterative publishing – the idea, borrowed from the software and startup world, that products should be in a constant state of evolution and improvement in response to changing market conditions, requirements from big customers or new technologies. The whole concept of ‘editions’ is apparently past its sell-by date in the internet age – too redolent of the dusty old print era. An iteratively published course doesn’t need editions, since it’s never more than a few months since the last update or improvement. One of the commonly cited advantages of digital (and particularly online) publishing is the ability to make updates to an already-published product in a way that just isn’t possible with print. Think corrections, general enhancements, topical content, implementing features requested by customers. All sounds great, and is what everyone is already used to with websites.

Of course, we’ve always had iterative publishing to some extent – reprint corrections are standard practice, and the gap between new editions of coursebooks has been decreasing – sometimes to as little as two or three years. So, maybe iterative publishing is really a matter of dramatically increasing the speed and impact of those updates – more actively looking for ways to make improvements as frequently as possible and putting in place structures and processes that make it feasible to do so. Doing that has a number of pretty big implications, though. Implications for schools and teachers, too, not just publisher themselves.

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