Folens publishers

Folens Publishers

Ireland's largest publisher of educational books revolutionizes educational publishing with agile online proofing.

Folens publishers hero background - adult woman teaching at primary school

In 1958, Albert and Juliette Folens founded Ireland-based Folens Publishers with the goal of providing top-tier teaching materials for the Irish curriculum. From its start as a school books publisher, Folens has since navigated a rapidly changing media landscape to produce a variety of digital products and instructional materials, including eBooks, videos, lesson plans, student podcasts, and more for Primary and Post-Primary education.

To keep Folens the go-to educational content provider for teachers, Folens’ content production team must look ahead to government mandated curriculum updates, respond to the evolving needs of teachers  and new learning needs and demographics of the students at Irish schools. Pressure and tight deadlines for the content team are the norm, not the exception.

Folens publishers school teaching materials and books-1

Traditional processes run into modern multimedia demands

Most probably wouldn’t think of the educational publishing business as high stakes, but Folens demonstrates that this is indeed the case. Curricula for Primary and Post-Primary education in Ireland are evaluated and regularly updated with modifications and adjustments. Folens must keep up with these changes to the smallest detail to ensure the company is continually meeting customer needs.

“There’s a reputational issue. If the content isn’t up to standard, if it doesn’t meet the requisites, nobody’s going to take you very seriously.”

Michael Plunkett, Head of Production at Folens

Additionally, the shift from print to digital has significantly shortened the shelf life of educational materials, keeping both in house and freelance writers and content experts at Folens constantly on their toes making new content and modifying existing products. 

To say Folens has unique creative challenges is an understatement.

Previously, the company used a PDF proofing process for creative materials that was painfully slow and tedious. It also meant the creative collaboration and proofing process was linear, not synchronous. Getting creative over the finish line was akin to piloting an oil tanker. Deliverables had to be planned well in advance just to account for internal and external reviews.

“You’d have to wait for one person to mark it up before it went to the next person and the next person.”

Michael Plunkett, Head of Production at Folens

When the Irish government suddenly decided to update the curriculum for the next year after a long delay, Folens realized its creative collaboration tools would not sufficiently support its production team and external content experts in collaborating to create updated content and rapidly responding to new requirements.

The company began looking for a solution to review and share their many different types of digital educational materials across dozens of internal and external stakeholders.

Ditching the linear review process

With a government-mandated deadline for updated content looming, Folens needed a creative collaboration solution that did away with the cumbersome process of reviewing and marking up PDFs and allowed teachers, designers, executives, educational commissioners, and other stakeholders to quickly give and address feedback.

“We’re always looking for efficiencies. Publishing is very traditional, but just because we’ve always done things in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Michael Plunkett, Head of Production at Folens

The immediate benefit Plunkett and his team saw was the synchronous creative feedback capabilities in Ziflow’s platform. Ziflow’s markup and comment tools eliminated the countless hours Folens wasted waiting for feedback, allowing for a far smoother creative workflow.

Folens publishers primary school students books


“One of the great things that I've discovered with Ziflow is that people can work at the same time. The PDF does not need to be absolutely complete before somebody starts at the beginning and starts doing their bit. That has been very, very helpful.”

Ciaran Deane, Senior Project Editor at Folens


Additionally, Folens needed to create sales materials for their educational products so that they could be previewed and bought by institutions ahead of time. However, their content is typically not finished when these sales occur, which means they must provide accurate, working proofs — something Ziflow easily facilitates with its version management tools. 

Now, instead of digging through PDFs, Folens can accurately track creative assets and share professional-looking materials in the final stages of production with potential buyers without worrying about mistakes.

Folens has also seen increased efficiency with their weekly commissioning editor meetings. Every week, Folens meets with an editor to ensure their instructional materials meticulously follow curriculum guidelines and specs. Before Ziflow, the meetings were long because the editor had to review new materials all at once. Now, the commissioning editor can follow creative assets in real time, give feedback, and only use the meetings to provide brief updates.

“Weekly meetings are more efficient and shorter, because everyone has been in the loop the entire time.”

Michael Plunkett, Head of Production at Folens


Students of a primary school smiling to each other


Content workflows that support new learning landscapes

Putting this efficiency in place ultimately helps Folens respond quickly to the changing educational needs of Irish educators and students. With a frictionless review process, new educational content can be created and distributed when it matters most. 

For example, In 2022, Ireland experienced a large influx of Ukrainian immigrants from the conflict with Russia. With this migration, the school system required new educational materials for new cultural and language needs.

“We thought, how can we help teachers?” Plunkett said, as refugee children began to find themselves in Irish schools. 

Folens publishing Math students book with geometry unit

Folens worked with educational commissioners, teachers, and other stakeholders to quickly create online booklets and other materials with useful phrases in Ukrainian that helped ease the transition for children and parents entering the Irish school system. 

With a nimble content creation and review process, Folens can adjust in real-time to provide the most impactful educational content for students and educators.  

Agile creative tools to quickly respond to future challenges

In addition to cutting down creative review times substantially, Folens uses Ziflow to:

  • Quickly share proofs of new educational products with sales prospects.
  • Manage creative feedback from within their creative apps and tools.
  • Create one review environment for both internal collaboration and client review and approval across educators and external users.

Folens will continue to monitor trends in an industry that is undergoing a digital transformation. Ziflow affords them the agility to change their offerings as needed and get existing educational materials out quickly.


“Ziflow saves us a helluva lot of time, and it’s here to stay with us.”

Michael Plunkett, Head of Production at Folens

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