Wanted: Digital Newsmag Blank

During a visit to another school today, I watched a class prepare to work on a project-based assignment, where they were going to write and assemble a newsmagazine that would tell the story of the oral histories they were collecting in the larger context of World War II.

And I realized there’s a niche for a new kind of program — a page layout software plug-in; or a standalone program — that will take a PDF or other document format, and convert it to an app for either Google’s Android, or the German WePad, or Apple’s iPad.

The program has to be priced at such a level that schools can buy it — None of this $1200-per-seat software packages. Because big newsmagazines aren’t going to use this: they have their own inhouse programmers and designers who will do this kind of work for them, and their page layouts are going to have audio and video embedded, and suchlike.

No, this is something else. This is the ability to take content, and wrap it in a specific context for certain kinds of audiences. This is software that will take a group of kids’ writing and photography samples (or adults), allow them to be laid out in a pleasing order, and then displaying them on an iPhone or iPad or Android phone as something more active than a mere PDF and less complex than a pure new app.

Thoughts?

2 comments

    • I think you’re right in that it’s the old pay frontier. But think about the fundraising potentials — a class like yours or mine produces a school newspaper online or through an iPad or android app. The students and you are producing the news for “free” or for “grades”. So you can vastly undercut the old media. But parents chipping in $0.49 a copy for digital material could pay for field trips, speaking and conference fees, field trips. The cynical part of me thinks the money would be stolen by unscrupulous bureaucracies or admen. The idealist in me wants to make a frame that would give our schools another way to transform ourselves.

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