Jumping in Feet First

I’ve never been one to dip my toe into the pool to test the water first.  I’m more of a “cannonball” girl, hurling myself directly into the deep end, making a big splash.  That is why it felt perfectly natural to find myself in the zyBooks booth at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Seattle, on what was only my fifth day of employment with the company! The zyBooks team held court at Booth 421, proudly displaying our current suite of tools as well as the three new engineering titles we are launching soon: “Circuits”, “Material and Energy Balances” and “Computer Organization and Design”.

Alex Edgcomb, Lori Berns, Evan McCann and Professor (and zyBooks co-founder) Frank Vahid came together to work the booth.  The ASEE exhibit hall opened Sunday night at 5:00pm and we were ready for action!  Our booth was constantly busy and we had the opportunity to meet with both new and current customers.  We also had the opportunity to meet with a number of professors who wanted to author zyBooks.

As the new head of sales, it was great to hear the positive response to our technology.  My favorite quote came from a professor from Iowa who had never seen us before and was so impressed by what he saw that he slapped his knee and exclaimed “Where have you been all my life?!  You just made my job so much easier!”.

The flow of professors was constant throughout the 3 day show and we were able to seed a great deal of evaluation copies. We were also approached by heads of libraries at major universities who wanted the zyBooks in their collections and labs.  This is a market where zyBooks do not currently reside but is a new venue that I will be actively developing.

In addition to booth duty, Professor Vahid was also part of a distinguished panel assigned to discuss the future of the textbook as we know it.  Members of the audience were able to query the panel on a number of relevant topics from adaptive learning, interactivity and the use of mobile devices in the classroom.  My favorite quote came from Professor Vahid: “If the web is a super highway then using a traditional textbook is like riding a horse down that highway.” The panel nodded in agreement and came to the conclusion that the time had come to move away from the printed book towards more interactive and adaptive tools.

Then, just hours after Professor Vahid’s panel discussion, Alex Edgcomb was in front of yet another crowd to present his paper, jointly authored by himself and professors at Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of Arizona, and UC Davis.  His paper won “Best in Show” and revealed results from a study he conducted across 3 universities, 4 courses and 2,400 students, comparing students in the same course that switched from a traditional textbook to a zyBook, with the same instructor and same semester of the year.  Edgcomb found that students using zyBooks had more As and Bs and fewer Ds and Fs.  Those same students also significantly improved exam and project grades.

ASEE was a successful show and a wonderful opportunity for me to begin my career as Vice President of Sales at zyBooks.  I look forward to many more opportunities to showcase our products and expand our technology into new markets.