Parallel publishing means producing the same content or information in more than one medium. In most cases this means in print and on the web – you need to provide your information in printed form, because some of your learners don’t have easy internet access. But you can save time and money providing information over the web to those that have, and you can provide more complex forms of interaction, improving the learning experience, and even providing electronic tracking of learners’ progress.
But there’s a catch – converting the information from one format to the other is a time-consuming process. This is bad enough when you’re just talking about a one-off publication. But most learning materials need fairly frequent updating. And that means that either you need to go through the whole conversion process again every time you change something, or you have to carry out your updates twice, once for the printed version, and once for the web.
However, recent developments in web technology can help take some of the duplication out of this process. Using XML, a new type of mark-up language, all your documents and information can be stored (and updated) in a single format, which is then very simple and straightforward to produce either in print or on your web site.
I’ve been interested in parallel publishing since I first started using the web and CD-ROM for delivering learning materials in the mid-1990s, and was involved in some early attempts to produce effective learning materials in both media.
The advent of XML makes the whole process much more powerful. The customisable nature of XML means you can use it to store multiple versions of the same document with little duplication of effort.
And the power of XML’s linking language means you can embed links to interactive resources for the web version and store them alongside alternative text-based exercises covering the same content.
For information and advice about how parallel publishing could benefit your learning programmes, contact me today.