Two heads are better than one, so the saying goes. And when it comes to the world of 21st-century publishing, that adage has never seemed so relevant, as exciting new collaborations between major industry players and other – often brand-new – organisations are breathing new life into the world of books and learning. Here, we take a look at the latest of these – a partnership between Oxford University Press and rising “edtech” star Emerge Education.
A month ago, Oxford University Press (OUP) and Emerge Education – “the accelerator for education start-ups” – came together to form an impressive new publishing partnership. The objective? To improve education outcomes across the globe by breaking new ground in the world ofedtech (education technology).
What makes the alliance so fascinating is that these are – at least on the face of it – two very different organisations. One is ancient, while the other is brand new; one is predominantly print, while the other is defined by technology. Nonetheless, they share a huge amount of common ground.
An enduring brand
Founded in 1586, OUP is one of the oldest publishing houses in the world. Its long and illustrious history contributes a sizable chunk to our cultural heritage in this country; so much so, in fact, that its name alone symbolises permanence and authority in today’s notoriously transient world.
But that’s not to say OUP is outdated – far from it. It might have been producing books for well over four centuries, but it has its sights set firmly on the future. In recent years, the publisher has acquired an impressive digital list, which includes the catchily named Kerboodle, an online resource for secondary schools, and the Oxford Learners Bookshelf, an app that allows students to access course material on their tablets. In this way, OUP seems to straddle the past and future in a pretty miraculous way.
A fresh new initiative
And then there’s Emerge Education, which is cutting edge, through and through. Newly launched and temporary by design – its business “accelerator” programmes are only three months long – the innovative initiative is the pinnacle of the modern.
The aim of its London-based course is to equip edtech entrepreneurs with the expertise, customers and investment they need to innovate and evolve learning tools and resources. As CEO Jan Matern said: “Emerge Education’s start-ups have the ambition to create a positive impact on education across the world.”
A meeting of minds
So how will the partnership actually work? While the ambitious new enterprises on the accelerator programme will benefit from OUP’s vast body of scholarly content and global reach, OUP will be free to make use of some of the most exciting innovations in edtech. OUP has also sponsored a 300-m-sq central London working space for the businesses. All in all, it’s set to be a win-win.
As Paul Riley, director of channels and partnerships at OUP, said: “This partnership provides OUP with opportunities to combine its high quality content with ground-breaking technology. Such activity will allow us to develop innovative products and services that improve the lives of teachers and learners globally, disrupting education for the better.”
The teamwork trend
The union between OUP and Emerge Education is the latest in a long line of relationships that are being forged by publishers and institutions, initiatives and corporations. And it’s an industry trend that seems to be most apparent in scholarly publishing – an area that’s innovating at a rate of knots.
Just over a year ago, for example, we wrote a blog on a similar collaboration between the education giant Pearson, and a handful of edtech businesses. Another similar venture, this time between Pearson and the University of Exeter, is the long-running Skills for Writing programme, an evidence-based approach to accelerating progress in writing.
In short, this kind of cross-organisational teamwork is now an industry-wide trend – and it’s benefitting organisations, teachers and students everywhere. Who will team up next, we wonder?
Thanks to Bindaas Madhavi for the image.