Eight or nine years ago, when ordering curriculum for Sunday School teachers, I had to order a curriculum book for every teacher. That usually cost me $20 a pop. Now we live in a digital world. Everything is different. You as the publisher have given me great material, but don’t be offended if I don’t have my teachers teach it the way you wrote it. I may do it in a different order. I might even leave out half and add in something of my own that fits what we’re doing as a church as a whole. When I ordered curriculum books from you, I had to type up a guide for the teachers of what to teach, what not to teach, how to change the order and all those instructions. It became a complicated mess of teachers referencing my instructions while looking at the material they’re supposed to teach.
Now in the digital age, this has all changed. I haven’t bought a physical CD in more than 6 years. Sometimes when someone gives me a physical DC… I don’t know what to do with it. In the same way, I don’t want to buy your curriculum books anymore. If I get the curriculum in a digital format, I can cut, paste, edit, re-arrange and reword. My volunteers get what they need in their email or download from a volunteer website where they can grab what they need. If my volunteers weren’t that savvy, I can print it out and give it to them a month at a time so they can be full prepared. It’s more efficient. It saves me money. It serves my ministry best.
I know that most curriculum publishers haven’t gone digital like this yet? Why not? And sending me a CD in the mail doesn’t count. CD’s get lost. I understand that there is profit to be made on every curriculum book sold, but if digital media is better, why not offer it as well? I imagine that the costs would be the same to layout the material digitally as it would for printing a book. Actually, it seems that it would be cheaper. It doesn’t need to look fancy and perfect becasue we’re just going to cut it up, edit it and move stuff around.
I know of at least one publisher that electronically distributes curriculum via “locked” pdf files. I have one question. Why? Why do you even think that’s okay? By locking your PDF, you restrict me from even copying text from the pdf to a word doc so I can custom build the material for my church? I’m not going to use your curriculum they way you think I should use it, so don’t make me waste time searching for ways to freaking copy the text out of your locked PDF. You’re not serving the churches purchasing your materials by doing that.
I know the reasons behind lots of this stuff. It’s intellectual property. By having editable files delivered across the web, you risk having curriculum “stolen.” It’s a valid concern. The music industry fought this same issue for the last decade. They eventually lost. MP3’s are not distributed unlocked through the web becasue it’s what people want. Don’t fight it. Let’s be creative? We’re willing to pay for the resources you develop. We need it. We need creative materials that haven’t yet been developed and you’re the ones who are poised to create it. Let’s be creative. Let us have the materials in a way that serves the church best.
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No comment just a big FAT AMEN! Every curriculum document needs to be a word doc every video they give you needs to be an .mp4
forgot to add not doing so will just waste our time and eventually force us to go with a company that will do those things. For me time is more precious than money stop making me waste my time on things that should be standard.
I think the problem is we are not the target audience. I wish we were, but it still seems like the target audience is the typical part time CM older female that is clueless on typical 21st century technology. I’m not at all bashing the older female CM worker, I’m just saying it seems that is who publishers are thinking about when making products. I also believe the biggest reason is that the products do not seem to be field tested before released. I come from Youth Ministry where Doug Fields and Simply Youth Ministry products where awesome. They were awesome becuase it was Doug’s ministry producing them. The products were not thought of in an office space only they were field tested and then sent out. This is a HUGE difference in quality of products. I think what your blog is doing and what other bloggers are doing will be very helpful for publishers to come out with better products. Thanks for leading a great series of questions. Well done & sorry for a long comment (it’s like it’s on blog post, HA!)
Dustin, I think you make a good point about target audience. I think you stepped into some dangerous territory about the typical children’s pastor, but I thing you do have a point.
Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me that the average church and CM in the united states is what you described and that they’d be just as happy with materials the way they’ve been. However, I’d be willing to bet that these churches (the typical churches) are not growing churches, expanding their influence into their communities. Take a look at Outreach Magazines 100 largest churches and 100 fastest growing churches in America. These churches are changing the course of the church for the next generation. They’ve broken out of the rut and are doing some amazing things. These are the churches that need curriculum publishers to support them… and the support they need is different from the “average” church in America.
I think what you said about being field tested is hit and miss. I know that several publishers invest a lot of time testing their stuff out before it goes on the market, but yes, not all of them are. It’s not always enough that the curriculum in general has been tested in real life, but has each lesson been tested?
Good stuff Dustin.
Is there a ‘like’ button on this thing?! You are so spot on that I’m part thrilled to know I’m not the only person thinking this, but am also bummed that other folks have been thinking and conversing about it, but it still hasn’t reached the ears of publishers…
I’ve said very similar things in the past and agree with almost everything you wrote. There is one aspect though that you are forgetting in all of this. Whether we want to believe it or not but the publishing companies are in competition with each other and will steal each others content. I know what you might be thinking, isn’t it all the Bible? The answer is no. Yes we pay for creativity when we buy curriculum but we also pay for a strategy from that publisher. Both of those things are taken from publishers that lead and resold. That’s to me is the sad part in all of this. I agree we need to be creative in the future of publishing but we also have to be aware of companies who are just reselling for cheaper because they can. It’s like buying a Hacintosh. It’s just not quite the same.
.-= Matt McKee´s last blog ..Tech Thursday: Google Buzz and the Winter Olympics =-.
First, thanks for these posts. I think this line of communication needs to open and frank. We all need to put on our big girl panties every now and then and get our feelings hurt for the good of our communities.
OK, got that out of the way.
I agree that publishers need to make a huge effort to push all material electronically in multiple formats. I want to be able to download completely unlocked files in .pdf, .doc, .pages, .psd, .ai, .jpg, .png, .gif, .mov, .mp4, .aac, .ppt, .key, .xls, .numbers, and any other file format we might possibly use with full layers, custom graphics, or just text only.
I’ve been a tech junky for 25 years, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted finding workarounds, patches, hacks, and cracks. It’s not that I don’t want to pay for something. If it’s quality, I’m willing to spend the money. BUT I want to be able to personalize stuff. I want to be able to strip backgrounds out of jpgs and copy good text into leader materials. I think if I pay $3500+ a year to utilize curriculum resources, then I should at least be considered a “partner” in the ownership of that intellectual property.
As for Dustin’s comment. I can look at the range of materials that some publishing companies put out and immediately identify their target audience. One company in particular comes to mind. They claim they are forward thinking and just said that they will be a leader in the digital market in the coming year, but the material itself is safe and bland. It appears to be targeted at the least common denominator, which happens to be very traditional, mostly white, and always has their shirt tails tucked in at their private schools. My kids, especially 3rd-5th grade, are looking for hip and cool. Publishers need to realize they can be cool and teach the Bible at the same time. And cool is not defined by kids who have been in church their entire lives and always sit quietly on the pew next to mom or always have a huge smile as their do motions for a bland music video. Cool is defined pop culture. I’m certainly not advocating following the world’s lead. But I am advocating that the church and publishers can learn to lead the world to a new level, where biblical morality CAN LOOK and sound awesome…even for kids.
.-= Christopher G. Sykes´s last blog ..February Honor =-.
I’m waving my big KJV at you right now! Preach it Snugglebunny!
JC… you’re such a nerd.
Hey Kenny….I know that one of the issues with delivering unlocked PDFs has to do with the licenses of the fonts included with the files. If the files are provided unlocked, then the price point would go way up because the cost of a license for each font utilized would have to be included. So it’s six in and half a dozen in the other – you either get flexibility or affordability.
Thanks Betsy, I’d never considered that. I’m sure there are lots of things I and others haven’t considered. I think that’s something we’d have to consider. I think giving us choices might be an option. If we want a locked PDF, let us have that option. If we want a word doc, let us have that. If we want an unlocked PDF, let us have that if we want it… but perhaps the end user can have some price options. Give us what we want… but give us the option to pay more.
I think a lot of us are at the point though where we’re fine with boring arial and times new roman if it means we get greater flexibility.
I love our ReThink curriculum and it has definitely gotten our kid’s ministry to whole new level of thinking (past pushing play). I am definitely one of the CM tweakers, because there is no way we could do 10 activities about the lesson in one hour! But like you and others have said, we like the options.
One thing i do wish for with the locked pdf issue, is just the option to have the background and graphics! I like documents that are eye-catching, as do most people. Yet, the “nicer and cooler” looking document is the document I cannot use since I tweak. I feel like I am wasting money sometimes for a particular “look and feel” that I never get to use. (And yes I do know you can buy their graphics, but that is besides the point…)