Time to Rethink the Book
IP&T students create a new electronic reading experience for The CultureWorks
The Advanced Instructional Design (IP&T 664) course, now in its seventh year, gives students the experience of being in a small instructional design-consulting firm. Those enrolled in the class take on different projects involving design and instruction each year for local clients. Some past clients include Thanksgiving Point, Liahona magazine, and the LDS Church History Museum.
This year’s client was The CultureWorks, an organization that works with other businesses and corporations to promote positive, productive culture. CultureWorks is made up of workplace experts who specialize in culture, leadership, and teamwork.
Having already produced five New York Times bestsellers, CultureWorks came to Dr. Andy Gibbons’ 664 class with a simple request: Redesign the way customers engage with the firm’s latest bestselling book, All In. CultureWorks has always taken a traditional approach to changing company cultures involved with book publishing, speaking/lecture series, and training events/services. “The big question they had was “What will books look like in five to ten years?”
The question posed by CultureWorks emerged naturally, as books today are changing from solely print and paper to alternative mediums, most of them electronic. The Kindle, iBooks, tablets, desktop computers, and e-books are representative of these emerging mediums, making books increasingly more interactive, widely accessible, and technology integrated. The challenge CultureWorks faced was creating a product and experience that would stay relevant and useful in the future.
The 664 class began by redefining the nature of the CultureWorks project. “We had to ask ourselves, ‘What if traditional ways of publishing books and presenting information weren’t the product anymore?’” Gibbons recounted. “What if the product was instead a place where people could come to contribute to an ongoing project, such as Wikipedia, where people come in and contribute to the product themselves?” This forced the students to completely reconsider what CultureWorks could offer as a commercial product, and how that would affect ways they wrote their books.
The IP&T 664 students found the task of re-creating All In so it would be an integrative, engaging, public electronic experience to be a rewarding but challenging project. Gibbons recalled how students struggled at first with the idea. “It was somewhat hard for my students at first to wrap their minds around the idea of a new kind of electronic book,” said Gibbons. “But it turned out to be a great experience for them—it forced them to deconstruct traditional paradigms and create something new.”
What the 664 class ended up doing with All In was to create a product that directs consumers much like a traditional book but provides an integrative, engaging, evolving interface much like a well-designed web page. “We completely changed the architecture of the book. It’s not just pages any more,” said Gibbons. “Rather, it’s an assortment of useful services and functions built into the book.”
All In has therefore become more than a book—with resemblance to Wikipedia. “The idea isn’t just to get people reading the book,” Gibbons explained. Instead, customers receive a resource that provides continual service and offers ways to enter into the culture and contribute to and participate in its projects. “Then the resources of All In form this happening place where people can contribute, network, and add insight.”
At the end of the semester, the 664 class formally presented their ideas to The CultureWorks in a two-hour presentation. “Our client was delighted,” said Gibbons. With another successful project completed, new IP&T 664 instructor Dr. Peter Rich is preparing yet another challenge for students in the IP&T program next year.
More information on All In and other CultureWorks resources can be found on the organization’s homepage at www.thecultureworks.com
July 24, 2012