Being a digital content developer, I’m always on the lookout for articles about how schools are using/acquiring digital content.
Great article on Mindshift, “For Public Schools, the Long, Bumpy Road to Going Digital” brings up many good issues and possibilities.
7 year cycle: Schools are stuck in the 7 year curriculum cycle. I sat on a district curriculum committee and saw how it hampers any opportunity for teachers to be nimble and take advantage of new content and technology. As a developer, I know that things in the tech world change so fast, it’s impossible to say what will be available in 7 years. If it were my money, I’d never commit to any digital content for more than a year or two.
Expensive! Schools never have enough money to do what they need to do, and buying content/curriculum is no different. Yet, content is expensive to develop. Contrary to what many believe, digital content is actually more expensive to develop, not less. Sure, you don’t have to print a book, but really, printing the book is a miniscule expense compared to the time to develop good content. Things like video, audio and interactives take time and money to develop.
Free resources: There are some tremendous free online resources. Teachers often create excellent resources — but that is also expensive, or done on their own time (which is wrong.) There has to be a move to fund digital content development differently – not on the backs of the schools and teachers.
Flexibility and customization: Digital offers tremendous opportunities to customize content and how you use it. The future lies in the companies that can offer this flexible, customizable content that allows teachers to incorporate material in their curriculum, rather than the company dictating what the teacher does. Add a quiz? Sure. Have students cooperate on a writing assignment? Yup. Enable students to share their work? of course. Search for specific subjects, rather than using the text as the publisher printed it? You bet. These are all things that have to be enabled.