Printing your learning packets during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond
Helpful guidelines and considerations to expedite production and keep your costs down
“With schools closed until at least April, a top priority of the district is ensuring students’ continuity of learning while they are at home. For students that can’t access online resources at home, getting printed materials is critical to their learning until they can return to the classroom. Through a partnership with custom publisher XanEdu, we were able to print language arts and math academic packets and begin giving them to students in only a few days. We’re grateful for XanEdu’s hard work and its commitment to helping DPSCD students continue learning in the weeks to come.”
Beth Coleman Gonzalez, Assistant Superintendent
Curriculum & Instruction at Detroit Public Schools Community District
In the event that printed materials will help improve your remote learning experience for parents and students, these best practices will help you optimize the production and distribution of those materials while simultaneously providing the most affordable solution possible.
1. Define the Organization of the Content
Many districts are looking for ways to combine multiple resources into a single packet. Create and convey your plan for how you want the content files sequentially organized. This will enable your custom print partner to quickly and accurately convey price quotes and a production timeline. Some providers may even be able to create a table of contents and paginate your materials to help teacher-student communication.
Some materials may be copyrighted and require copyright licensing. Identifying the source of your materials and seeking a production partner with professional copyright expertise may be useful to ensure compliance.
2. Identify Required Quantity & Distribution Method
Each packet you create will likely need to be produced in different quantities (e.g. grade-level variations, etc.). First, define your required quantity by packet/book. Second, consider how you want to distribute the materials to students: a central location (e.g. school warehouse); consolidated school-level shipments; direct shipment to student homes.
Keep in mind that printing can often result in volume-based pricing discounts. You may want to print more than you think you need up front so you don’t need a second small run that costs more and takes longer.
3. Choose Print Specifications
Being flexible on production specifications can accelerate the print timeline and lower costs. During these challenging times, hard choices need to be made between high-quality print products versus speed and affordability.
There are many print specifications that you could choose from, here are some recommendations to optimize speed and affordability:
Black and white instead of color
Use house paper stock
Select efficient trim size (your production partner can advise)
Go without a cover stock
Select staples for your binding
Distribution and pack-out requirements to large school districts can be complex, in many cases, with 50+ schools receiving a combination of multiple titles in different quantities. Select a partner who has experience providing these services to help you streamline the process and make sure the right questions are asked up front to ensure your delivery goes smoothly.
Create a roadmap (e.g. spreadsheet) that defines which locations will receive which packets and at what quantities. And consider the higher costs of shipping to multiple locations as an additional budgetary element.
In the event that your remote learning plans include the need for printed materials, the steps below will help to inform your decision making, by helping you frame the scope of your project and create expectations of delivery times and affordable costs.
1. Identify the material that needs to be printed
Knowing as much as possible about what content you want to include in your project will help your vendor deliver what you need on multiple fronts—from accurate quotes to the production timeline. If materials are coming from multiple sources or formats, identify the necessary sequence. Ask your provider to provide a table of contents and page number to help teacher student communication at a distance.
*TIP* – If materials need copyright clearance permission, identify each source and seek assistance
2. Gather quantity
Carefully consider all of the people who will need to receive materials. Identify how many workbooks need to be created by title. Include a conversation around student enrollment and the need for parent and teacher copies.
*TIP* – Volume drives pricing. It can be costly in both time and money to re-order small amounts of the same material later
3. Identify Print Specifications
Being flexible can shorten the printing process and lower costs. Choices to consider:
- Color vs. Black-White
- Paper stock/type of paper
- Paper size, also called “trim size”
- Cover type
*TIP* – As you are preparing for quick turnarounds and extreme affordability, considering using these specifications:
- Print your materials in black and white
- Print double-sided to reduce paper usage
- Print on standard materials by requesting “house stocks”
- Print to a standard size like 8.5 x 11
- Use portrait-style orientation
- Keep your binding simple with saddle stitch or perfect binding
- Provide files for each title as one complete PDF
Create spreadsheet or other documentation to clearly identify the name of warehouse or school building(s), address and name of recipient. Shipping to multiple locations could mean a little extra time added to your project timeline so you’ll need to account for that.
*TIP* – Shipping to multiple locations could mean a little extra time and money added to your project
In XanEdu, Shelby County Schools found a partner not only to build their custom solution, but also to help take it to a higher level:
- More impactful for student achievement
- Help teachers improve their practice
- Reduce costs
XanEdu’s K-12 CustomBook Solutions makes education personalized and affordable by giving districts and states control to create materials tailored to the unique needs of their students, rather than asking students to adapt to a standard, off-the-shelf resource. Working with more than 1,200 education institutions nationally, XanEdu helps educators take back control of content, costs and quality of their instructional materials. Our students are unique, your instructional materials should be too.
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