In U.S. school districts today, adopting digital content and curriculum is a top priority. In fact, 90 percent of districts that participated in a Center for Digital Education (CDE) survey said they were either planning to or already had implemented personalized learning programs utilizing digital content.
Despite its popularity, however, few districts have successfully adopted it in all grade levels and subject areas. Enter the new Guide to Choosing Digital Content and Curriculum, which offers education leaders examples of digital content strategies and ways to apply them.
"When you're going down this journey, it's easy to feel overwhelmed," said CDE Executive Director Kecia Ray. "But if you say, 'Well, Blue Valley did it,' then not only do you have kind of validation that it's something you should try, but you also have possibly a partner in the process that you can reach out to."
Digital content makes it easier for school districts to personalize learning for students, Ray added, and districts need a healthy mix of both digital and print content to help their students learn.
The guide — a collaboration among CDE, the U.S. Education Department's Office of Educational Technology, the Consortium for School Networking, ISTE, Common Sense Education, ASCD and the State Educational Technology Directors Association — specifically addresses openly licensed educational resources as well as proprietary resources.
Many districts now use openly licensed resources, though they also still see a place for paid content or even papers and pencils in some cases, as the guide reveals. While these resources don't necessarily save them money, they have been able to reallocate some of the money that previously went to content purchases, and create content that's relevant and timely for students in their area.
These types of open resources give educators creative control because they can modify, share and remix other people's content, as well as design their own from scratch. And that's empowering.
"When you give teachers autonomy and creative content control over their resources, they can do really great things," said Andrew P. Marcinek, open education advisor for the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. "I mean, this is what we hired them for."