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Zaner-Bloser, Inc. would like to welcome participants in our Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Digital Product Delivery PlatformThis is an information page for participants who plan to submit their proposals in response to the RFP. 

Zaner-Bloser (ZB) is looking for a platform that can deliver our digital products to our customers across a range of technology platforms and instructional models, while never losing sight of the critical relationship between learners and educators.  We seek a framework that will allow our products to effectively answer the instructional needs in the classroom, and will efficiently integrate into the wide range of data management and operational systems present in schools today.  Additionally, as the educational process relies increasingly on emerging technologies, we are looking for a platform that will grow and adapt to the changing demands of the educational customers.

Zaner-Bloser is accepting proposals through 5PM EDT on Friday, August 30, 2013, via electronic PDF format only, emailed to The RFP document may be downloaded from the below link. Please refer to the proposal instructions in the RFP.


While Zaner-Bloser is not accepting direct phone calls or contacts to staff, we are accepting questions and clarifications via email at through 5PM EDT on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Schedule information and questions with responses will be posted below as available.

With your proposal, please review and append your responses to the provided Contract Terms for Review, with any modifications for consideration. These clauses are representative of anticipated contract terms; additional or revised clauses will be made available for your review and response as they emerge throughout our evaluation process.  Please do not share this RFP document outside of your organization.

We thank you for your time and proposal.

Zaner-Bloser, Inc., August 1, 2013



Updated 3/5/2014
As of this posting, having made a multi-phase evaluation of proposed solutions, our organization has reached an interim decision to delay a final selection and implementation of a new Digital Product Delivery Platform for at minimum a period of one year.
Accepted proposal materials as received through the effective project postponement date of 2/28/2014 will remain confidential and on file for consideration once the project schedule is resumed within approximately the next year. 
Written correspondence regarding the project will be accepted through the Highlights Family of Companies, to the attention of “ATTN: Application Services, RE: RFP - Digital Platform”, at 1800 Watermark Dr., Columbus, Ohio 43215.


Date Description Details
August 1, 2013 Begin Open Submission Period ZB is accepting proposal submissions through August, from 8/1 - 8/30.
August 5 - 14, 2013 Accepting Participant Questions ZB will accept questions from participants from 8/5 through 8/14, and will post a response within two business days to this information page.
August 30, 2013 Submission Due Date, End Open Submission Period Proposal submissions are due at 5:00 EDT on 8/30.
September 1 - 30, 2013 RFP Response Processing Timeframe required for internal processing of submissions received
October - December 2013 Product Demonstration Rounds Schedule product demonstration rounds through Q4 2013
January – February 2014* Additional Review / Proof of Concept*
Extended review period with a primary group of vendors with intent to perform a proof-of-concept
*Update: Proof of Concept postponed
February 28, 2014 Project Postponed Platform selection and implementation has been postponed approximately 1 year.

FAQ and Posted Informational Responses


Q:  As the contract terms are anticipated and definitive terms will be determined and negotiated once a solution is decided upon and a vendor is chosen, may we respond generally to the contract terms and defer a detailed contract discussion and negotiation until such time as the exact solution is defined and a vendor chosen?  Until a specific solution is determined, it will be hard to provide detailed comments on specific contractual terms. 

A: ZB requests that you propose a solution, and as part of that solution provide the terms that your organization is willing to accept. ZB will assume that the proposal you provide will include information about these terms. A representative selection of clauses are provided in the RFP for your review, to note in your responses as proposed terms – you may decline, accept, or accept with specified modifications for consideration, as applicable your proposed solution. Additional or revised clauses will be made available for your review and response as they emerge throughout our evaluation process.


Q:  Is ZB open to sharing how many total participants they are considering in the RFP process? How will finalists be chosen for the proof-of-concept demonstration?

A:  ZB is interested in finding and selecting from qualified solutions. As such we cannot put a number to how many proposals we will evaluate or finalists will be selected.


Q. How many users do you expect to support through the Digital Product Delivery Platform you choose? What is the expected usage throughout 2014 and 2015?

A. Zaner-Bloser is expanding its offering of products online, as our sales strategy increasingly focuses on digital products.  We require a system that will be scalable and able to support students from all over the country, with the potential to be in the hundreds of thousands over time.  We currently support various licensing models which may or may not carry forward into another system, and we expect differences in how your platform will manage accounts and licenses.  As well, we are unable to disclose specific sales or volume numbers as proprietary information.  For these reasons, we would prefer to see your range of pricing models.  Please include information about the types of accounts and licenses your platform supports.  


Q:  What is to be delivered in Q1 2014? The RFP specifies Beta implementation and limited product launch approximately Q1 2015. What is to be delivered for the limited product launch in 2015?

A:  ZB expects to begin working with the selected vendor within the first quarter of 2014, building a roadmap on integration strategies with product development efforts to leverage the platform as soon as possible. ZB anticipates a Proof-of-Concept prior for platform and product delivery prior to the 2015-2016 educational year.


Q:  What products will be used in the limited product launch in Q1 2015?

A:  The specific products to be launched are to be determined; this selection process will be driven by a number of factors, including the capabilities of the hosting platform and market demands.


Q:  Has a budget been approved for this platform?

A:  We are unable to disclose a specific budget as proprietary information.


Q:  Does ZB plan to keep their existing delivery platform or migrate everything to the chosen partner’s platform? Will ZB require a hosted solution?

A:  ZB will consider either options in implementation, as most feasible through the selected platform solution.


Q:  Would ZB consider a 'multi-tenant' solution where customers can access multiple publishers and products? Would Zaner-Bloser consider licensing a custom or semi-custom solution, but not owning the deliverables and not to be considered "works made for hire"?

A:  ZB will consider multi-tenant solutions, and other custom/semi-custom options, as best suited to the platform criteria. We would need to know more about the support, performance, data stewardship, digital rights management, and financial implications of these models.


Q:  What is the select functionality presently supported through ZB systems?

A:  The RFP refers an assumption that ZB systems will either necessarily, or by policy, retain certain core functions when integrating with the new platform. These functions are to be identified once a proposed solution is selected and plans to integrate these systems move ahead.


Q:  Does ZB plan to author new products in this platform?

A:  ZB hopes to leverage the platform to help create digital solutions to our clients through products and enhanced user experience. We anticipate developing fine grain product components and interactive resources externally.  Some product bundling and configuration may be done at the hosting platform level.


Q:  What is the expectation for mobile/tablet through the platform, and what approach has ZB taken to-date? (Considerations include: mobile web, native for IOS, and Android) 

A:  In general, all of the features of the platform should be usable across a range of customer devices, including mobile browsers.  ZB products are being developed for delivery to mobile browsers.  We are, however, particularly interested In the service-based capabilities of the platform, and its ability to support sophisticated mobile apps with rich content and user data requirements. ZB products are currently largely web-based.  We have several iOS apps, and we are investigating cross-platform app development alternatives.


Q:  Does ZB have an interest in adaptive assessments?

A:  ZB is interested in adaptive assessments as part of the larger instructional process.  Given our focus on high-quality language arts instructional and writing development, any adaptive assessment would need strong support for natural language.  Additionally, it would have to demonstrate that it provides an authentic assessment of student mastery of core writing skills.


Q:  Would you elaborate on the license models that you support? Does ZB support license terms of variable durations, which may range from trial periods to length increments in standard year, and/or educational year or multi-year formats?  Do models include license “features”, such as pay per use purchase models, user allocation “overdraft protection”, demo user allowances?

A:  ZB anticipates support for a range of terms such as 30-day, 90-day, 1-year, and 6-year; ZB would like to have greater flexibility with regard to license terms offered, including the examples mentioned. As well, ZB is interested in support for features such as pay-per-use and overdraft protection.


Q:  What level(s) of control is Zaner-Bloser looking for with respect to license allocation and management? School-level, class or teacher level, student count level or named-student account level?

A:  ZB supports customers who are very diverse in their licensing requirements.  While not all of these models will be implemented with the selected platform, ZB seeks a solution that offers flexibility in licensing so that adaptations may be made quickly to respond to market preferences.  As well it is important that ZB’s school-based customers are allowed to manage their own licenses as much as possible; we are interested in knowing how your platform provides access to end users.



Q:  From the RFP in the Financial Responsibility Assumptions section (Page 8), could you elaborate on the point “Product (software) implementation with customization options”?

A:  If a vendor has a software solution that can integrate with a school but requires additional custom development to facilitate the products, ZB we would like to see that scenario with associated costs. In addition, if a vendor has a solution that can integrate with various products, and might require additional customization or configuration to make it work, we would like to understand this type of cost.


Q:  Does ZB expect data migration to be performed from existing ZB systems to the new platform?

A:  The selected vendor would need to help facilitate a data migration from our current platform.  We would prefer to use an API or advanced upload process to import the data directly, with some guidance/help from the vendor.  If an API or alternative upload process isn't available then we would expect the vendor to find another suitable way for us to migrate our data into the new system.


Q:  What technologies are currently used within and supported by ZB’s suite of products?

A:  The technology varies, depending on the product.  Some of ZB’s products are written in PHP and are rendered completely from the server side; server-based components are written using the Drupal CMS; other products are written in HTML5/JS.  There are currently some Flash-based products as well, but there is a plan in place to convert these to HTML5 before transitioning to a new platform.  Finally, some of our products are simply PDF's. ZB expects that some product changes will need to be made in order to support a new delivery platform.


Q:  Does ZB already have an existing system and what features does it include? Does the system have License Management and DRM features? Can we have an indicative list of features currently present in ZB’s suite of products - of which a selective list will need to be present in the new platform?

A:  ZB has an existing system that provides many LMS-like features, including roster management, lesson planning (creating lesson plans in advance and presenting lesson plans during class), differentiated assignment creation (associating digital activities with students, and capturing the student activity with a web service) and scoring.  DRM limits access to actively licensed (not expired) products, requiring users to be logged in order to obtain access to products.  Going forward, we want to be able to support resources provided via one-time (or limited time) download. 


Q:  May we assume that ZB owns the content / products?

A:  ZB will retain the Digital Rights to the products that will be supported through the proposed platform (DPDP).


Q:  Does ZB also include content from third party publishers?

A:  ZB does include content from third party publishers.  Currently, we pass authenticated/licensed users over to several third party hosts via a pre-arranged, trusted connection.


Q:  The RFP refers to the platform  supporting different standards such as LTI, SIF, etc. Is there a list of  specific standards that the platform should support?

A:  ZB wishes to support the emerging needs of our customers. SIF and LTI are two standards that are much in-demand.  However, we wish to remain flexible.  We are watching the development of EdFi/InBloom, CEDS, LRMI, Experience API, and Clever, to name a few.  We are looking for a hosting partner who will be actively involved in the ongoing development and adoption of these specifications and can help guide us to make the best use of their various capabilities.


Q:  Should the platform support content authoring and the capability to create new content and modify existing content?

A:  ZB is interested in supporting teacher-created lesson and activity content that is composed of granular interactive and text resources.  Additionally, from content maintenance perspective, ZB will need the ability to adjust/replace/remove content resources from digital products.  Please provide details regarding the capabilities available in your platform that will support us in this work.


Q:  The RFP addresses collecting customer activity data with ZB products and storing it; please expand on purpose and objective of this requirement.

A:  ZB anticipates this data will include capturing a range of activity/performance data streams (via REST-like APIs) from Flash and HTML5 products that customers use in instructional/assessment activities.  Our objective is to provide each user with a customized product, and it is imperative that we are able to provide usage reporting, which relies on this data.


Q:  What are the different kinds of reports that are required? Does the feature of ‘reports’ include ‘analytics’ as an expectation?

A:  The platform should primarily capture the data needed to support the following reports.  All data included in these reports should be available via export or through some means of integration. 

  • Class report, showing scores for all/selected assignment for all students.
  • Student report, showing scores for all/selected assignments for one student.
  • License status reports, showing which licenses have been assigned and which licenses are about to expire or are expired.
  • Teacher & student usage, showing materials included in lesson plans, time on task (various resources), frequency of use (by resource), assignments created, assignments scored (where applicable), and student scores.  The purpose of this report is to show how much the teacher or student used the product.  We need detailed data, and we need the ability to roll this data up to the teacher, building, school, and district levels. 

Many schools are implementing enterprise-wide data warehouses and Instructional Improvement Systems to provide teachers and administrators with analytic reports.  Ideally, if one of these systems is present in the school’s infrastructure, the platform should offer some means of integration.  However, the platform should include at least some reporting and analysis capability to meet the needs of those schools without these data management systems. Please detail your products capabilities to provide analytic reporting, as well as integration into school-based data management systems.


Q:  Will the license key generation continue to be handled by current order fulfillment process of ZB, assuming that the DPDP will be responsible for user management in conjunction with license management?

A:  The proposed platform solution (DPDP) will be responsible for user management in conjunction with license management.


Q:  Is it possible to request for a demo login to your website to view the capabilities of your current products available?

A:  Not at this time.


Q: Does ZB expect products to be customized based on the user profile? As the skin of the product is controlled, please elaborate and specifically how this would apply to a user from an external system / LMS.

A:  Product customization wouldn’t apply in the case of LTI, apart from available data parameters that may be passed. However, ZB’s preference would be to allow as much customization as is possible, working within the constraints of current integration standards.


Q:  Will the platform have its own LMS that would be available for purchase from within the platform?

A:  The platform should support the delivery of ZB products via LTI or via direct login.  Additional customer purchases should not be required for this functionality.


Q:  Who are the primary users of the platform? May we assume that the predominant users of the platform are teachers and students from an external system / LMS?

A:  ZB is expanding its offering to include both current digital product customers use our platform and those customers interested in LTI-based solutions.  We are looking for a solution that can support both LTI delivery of product, as well as serving as a hosted LMS.  In addition to teacher and student roles, ZB anticipates the need to support parent users, who might not have accounts on the school's LMS, as well as school administrators, who may need access to data/reports.



Q. How did you select our organization to participate in the RFP for a Digital Product Delivery Platform?

A. Zaner-Bloser explored multiple sources for candidate organizations - such as from conference contacts, published industry reports, and available online information. Solutions providers and technology producers have been selected from across relevant industry domains: IT solutions providers, digital content management, digital delivery and online media hosting, publishers and publishing systems, educational products and learning systems, and enterprise resource management. Your organization may alternately have been contacted through industry memberships such as SIIA and SIFA.


Q. When does ZB plan to implement and release the Digital Product Delivery Platform to production?

A. Implementation is anticipated to start in Q1 2014. The production target is to be live and ready for use the 2015-2016 Educational Year, with beta product launches in early 2015.


Q. How many users do you expect to support through the Digital Product Delivery Platform you choose?

A. Zaner-Bloser is expanding its offering of products online, as our sales strategy increasingly focuses on digital products.  We require a system that will be scalable and able to support students from all over the country, with the potential to be in the hundreds of thousands over time.  We currently support various licensing models which may or may not carry forward into another system, and we expect differences in how your platform will manage accounts and licenses.  As well, we are unable to disclose specific sales or volume numbers as proprietary information.  For these reasons, we would prefer to see your range of pricing models.  Please include information about the types of accounts and licenses your platform supports.  


Q. How do I submit our response?

A. Zaner-Bloser is accepting proposals through 5PM EDT on Friday, August 30, 2013, via electronic PDF format only, emailed to

Q. May we submit a proposal after the deadline?

A. Any proposals not submitted within the specified timeframe will be viewed as a non-response and may not be reviewed. 


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