Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Kids Discover.
I lead the development of digital products and digital marketing at Kids Discover. This encompasses everything from social media campaigns, to the development of each iPad app we create (we now have 14). I'm in my 4th year at Kids Discover, and I'm in love with my job.
What is the driving force behind Kids Discover?
Kids Discover was founded back in 1991 as a children's magazine. The mission back then is the same mission we have today; to inspire kids and feed their natural curiosity through great, age-appropriate editorial. Whether we're introducing kids to the world of insects, or to what life was like back in Colonial America, our mission is to present topics in a way that fascinates and excites young minds. If we can get kids excited about reading and learning, we've fulfilled our mission.
How long is the development process for one of your apps?
Each app, much like our printed magazines, focuses on a single subject in the natural or social sciences. The apps have a uniform pace, template, and structure, but contain unique content based on the topic we're covering. With this model, we've been able to produce a new app once a month. It took us about 4-6 months to refine the workflow we have in place, as our editors work directly with our developers. The credit for these apps goes to the creativity and diligence of our editors, designers, and developers. They are simply awesome to work with.
How do you decide what topic to cover?
We have over 150 print magazines, and know which topics are the most popular in schools, and at home. We see a similar correlation in popularity now that these topics have been released as apps. Cells, Constitution, and Ancient Greece have been 3 of the most popular apps we've developed. Upcoming topics include Energy, Civil War, and Ecology.
What benefits do your apps offer over the traditional magazines?
This is a great question, and I'd like to answer it in two parts: experience and delivery. With experience of a traditional magazine, you are confined to a limited amount of space (amount of pages, and size of each page). You're also confined to two forms content: 2D art and text. With the iPad, we have about 40-50 "pages" per app, and in addition to photos and text, we can use video, audio, scrollable animations, and virtual panoramas that can transport a child from their desk to the Hoover Dam. Presenting these topics with rich multi-media makes them evermore exciting, and the iPad gives us the tools to execute this. As for delivery, a teacher can purchase 20 copies of our cells app, and have them installed on 20 different iPads in less than 10 minutes. There's no need to wait for the issues to ship in the mail. The mailman is now your internet provider. We've never been able to ship our magazines overseas because of the expense, but now we can sell our apps internationally, and there is no additional cost to distribution them.
Is there one project that you are particularly proud of?
Our core products (apps and magazines) are for kids, but we've created a lot of high-quality content for educators as well. There are so many free resources that live on the web, but the vast majority of them aren't that good. We've created printable infographics, lesson plans, vocabulary packets, and online articles and made them available for educators that might not have the budget for our magazines or apps. Whether you are buying on behalf of a school district, or you are a teacher interested in some free material, there is something for you at www.kidsdiscover.com. We've worked hard and spent a lot of money to build these resources out, and the response has been fantastic.
Have you been pleased with the response to your apps so far?
We've gotten great feedback so far regarding our apps. We've heard some amazing stories of reluctant readers using our apps and getting excited about reading and learning. Over half of our apps have been selected New and Noteworthy by Apple over the past year, which has been exciting for our team. Schools with one-to-one iPad programs have incorporated our apps into their curriculum, and we're beginning to get a lot of interest from media specialists and tech coordinators. We participate in Apple's Volume Purchasing Program, which means that when a teacher or administrator purchases multiple copies of a single app, they receive a 50% discount. The apps then become very affordable.
Do you feel that your apps are targeted at a specific age of learner?
We think of ourselves as a K-8 publisher, so ages 6-14. However, it all depends on the reading level of the child. Our sweet spot might be ages 8-12, but our apps are enjoyed by kids who are 5 and by parents who are 40.
What future projects can you tell us about?
Every day we get requests to develop for Android devices, and for phones (our apps are not available for iPhone). We're working on ways to make our apps available for all devices, regardless of their size or operating system. We've just begun working on this project, but a platform-agnostic tool for accessing all of our apps could be ready sometime in the second half of 2014. For now, we have 3-4 more iPad apps in the queue for development, and a redesign of our website which should go live in early 2014.
Ted keep up the great work and thanks for taking time out to speak with us. Find out more about Kids Discover here: www.kidsdiscover.com