Outdated textbooks were a problem for him, so he did something about it
IDAHO FALLS – You graduate from college and get settled into your first job. A few months into it, you’re assigned a task. You think to yourself, I didn’t learn this in school.
Idaho Falls business owner Stuart Draper says this scenario is far too common because often universities do not use textbooks that are up-to-date.
“We’re trying to fix that. It’s a real problem that needs to change,” Draper says.
Draper’s remedy was a business model called Stukent. Stukent is a digital courseware provider that works to keep textbooks current with the industry.
In 2013, Draper and a team of developers came up with a technology platform that allows them to work directly with textbook authors. The authors continually make updates to the text while Draper and his team market the service to universities.
More than 1,000 universities in 40 countries are using the digital marketing courseware. They include UCLA, Syracuse, Oxford and several Idaho universities.
Konya Weber is a professor at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. She says one of her favorite parts about Stukent is the expert sessions. These are videos from industry leaders that provide additional instruction and perspective for students.
“In all of my classes, I try to bring in guest speakers. The pain point for that is that you never know how they are going to be,” Weber says in a video on Stukent’s website. “I liked (the expert sessions) because I didn’t have to schedule a guest speaker and I could use it where it was most appropriate. So they were extremely valuable to me.”
In addition to updating textbooks, Stukent also provides simulations, or hands-on activities to help supplement students’ learning.
Once students sign on to use the service, they receive lifetime access to the course content to use as a reference in their future career.
As a college student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, Draper says his professors rarely used textbooks because they were always outdated.
“I always felt like I missed out on an opportunity because we weren’t using books in class.”
When Draper began teaching digital marketing as an adjunct faculty member, he got an up close and personal perspective on using textbooks in the classroom.
“I noticed (first-hand) the curriculum was outdated and hard to work with, so I decided there had to be a better way,” Draper says.
After speaking with many universities, he learned there were only a few out of several hundred who were teaching digital marketing. So Draper felt this was an opportunity to help other schools teach this subject.
The reason publishers can’t keep their content current, according to Draper, is because they are working with hundreds of thousands of authors. In order to facilitate the updates of all their texts, Draper says they have to put them on a schedule two to three years out.
“The digital marketing world moves way faster than that. We wanted to be able to control that, so that’s why we built our own platform,” says Draper.
The first Stukent product to hit the market was a digital marketing textbook co-authored by Draper. The first version of the digital text was ready within a few months, according to Draper. They launched two sample chapters and a table of contents and had dozens of universities signed up to use it before the book was complete, Draper says.
“I’d love to say it’s because I’m a great author, but more than likely it’s because there was such a demand for better course content.”
Stukent’s sales have continued to spiral upward. Since the company’s inception in 2013, they have increased their revenue every year. For the last three years, they have doubled their annual revenue.
“When we go to conferences and talk to educators or other courseware providers, they assume we’re in the bay area or Chicago or New York (because of our numbers),” Stukent’s VP of Sales Brandon Winter says. “We’ve been able to grow substantially in what many would consider a remote location.”
Stukent currently offers courseware exclusively in the digital marketing space, but are planning to expand their platform to other areas of expertise.
“For every subject in academia, the industry is moving faster,” Draper says. “Any subject where industry is moving faster than academia we want to help academia catch up and keep up by providing better courseware.”
Stukent is also introducing social media courseware in the high school market that teaches students how to use social media in the business world.
Winter says the issue of outdated textbooks has many people wondering whether higher education is really preparing students for the job market.
“I feel like we’re really solving a problem that other companies haven’t been able to figure out to this point.”
Stukent is located at 775 Lindsay Blvd. Suite 101 in Idaho Falls across from Shilo Inn.