Hall of Fame Portrait: Nelson B. Heller, Ph.D., Part 3

On December 3, 2009, AEP will induct Nelson B. Heller, Ph.D, MDR; Michael Ross, Encyclopaedia Britannica; and Pleasant Rowland, Rowland Reading Foundation and American Girl into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in his third installment, Nelson B. Heller, Ph.D., President, EdNET at MDRdiscusses the greatest challenge facing educational publishing in the next five years.

The Heller Reports news and conference activities have provided me with a marvelous platform for observing the evolving impact of technology on educational publishing’s products and services, not to mention its back-office operations. The advent of the Internet and web 2.0 have greatly expanded this digital imperative, but for a host of reasons, including still limited hardware penetration in schools and the cautious response of most school systems to widespread adoption of technology, we’re still looking for critical mass and sustainable business models.

Open source content and software applications have further confused the picture. It is no longer a question of whether technology will be a key instructional materials publishing and tools platform in tomorrow’s schools – it is only a question of when and how best to build the business models to make it work for schools and suppliers. It’s also going to create new distribution channels, complementing direct mail and e-mail, for engaging educators in buying decisions.

My advice? Go with the flow – don’t get ahead of the game but don’t pretend the rules aren’t changing either.


Nelson Heller is president of EdNET at MDR, a D&B company. EdNET publishes a weekly e-mailed industry news service, sponsors the annual EdNET: Educational Networking Conference, and offers periodicEdNET Virtual Roundtables with panels of experts regarding key issues impacting educational sales and marketing. He previously served as research vice president for the SFN group of companies including Scott Foresman, Silver Burdett and Southwestern and, before that, was president of Educational Programming Systems and the Technology Assisted Learning Market Information Service (TALMIS). Dr. Heller is recipient of the “Making It Happen” education industry award. He holds a BEE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and graduate degrees from MIT and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more about Nelson Heller and the Hall of Fame.

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