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Two key steps to using digital content

Two key steps to using digital content

Part of that challenge lies in the lack of guidance.

“Making that transition is hard to do if you’ve never done it–there’s no roadmap for it,” Costa said.

Costa touched on five major steps that form a digital content transition roadmap: goals and rationale, organizing context, storage and access, harvesting, and barriers and considerations. He discussed the first two in detail on April 29, and the remaining three steps will be discussed in a second webinar on May 19.

1. Goals and rationale

Why move? “The future of learning and work is digital–shifting the center of gravity from print to digital allows us to align instructional content and materials with our ultimate educational goal,” Costa said.

Every student must have an internet-ready device in order to cultivate global and 21st-century skills.

The future of learning and work lies in digital tools and content, and digital access is necessary if students are to be successful in the digital age.

“What we find is that even when people get to digital, they are still thinking like they are in a print world,” Costa said.

Aligning systems is important, because a move to digital content “only makes sense if your systems support the movement to digital,” Costa said. This begins with a focus on desired student learning outcomes, and district leaders should align instruction, assessment, and resources with those learning outcomes.

In fact, there is a much better chance that a digital content migration will be successful if all instructional systems work with the same goals in mind.

Instructional practices and assessments must support the commitment to those learning outcomes.

Capacity needs cannot be ignored.

“You cannot stoke demand without providing capacity. Infrastructure and support needs must be addressed to ensure a successful transition,” Costa said.

Networks, including wireless access points, must be able to handle “100 percent simultaneous users and the traffic that will come when everyone is online at the same time,” he noted.

If school leaders “cannot delivery on the promise of capacity…[then the] system bogs down and people get frustrated–you’ve got about a week or two of that before people give up and stop believing you,” he said.

Educator and IT staff capacity are equally important.

“We started advocating for BYOD out of budgetary necessity, but over the last couple of years we feel like it’s even more important instructionally,” Costa said. “Allowing kids to use devices they are comfortable with helps to increase their ability to use them productively…but it also…changes the equation in terns of the faculty conversation. We don’t hear people arguing about which device anymore. We see the conversation shifting toward what we are doing with the devices versus which device we are using.”

Making the case starts with leaders. “To effectively advocate for this transition, there needs to be leadership clarity regarding the rationale for making the move, the benefits of moving, and the steps in the process needed to get there,” Costa said.

Initial points to make the case for digital content include its less expensive nature and more efficient use of resources; the fact that digital content is better aligned with skills today’s students need; that digital content allows teachers to differentiate instruction; and that there is not a lack of online resources, but rather, lack of time to locate available resources.

“One mistake many make is repeating the same curation errors digitally that you do in print…if you curate well and harvest well, you can increase the quality and reduce the expense,” Costa said.

Dialogue with constituents must occur at all levels. Key constituents, including students, parents, and faculty, must be involved in the digital content migration from the beginning so that they are aware of its rationale and process.

School leaders should anticipate misconceptions or questions about a digital content migration and should be proactive and prepared when it comes to addressing those questions.

The more groups that are involved in the digital content migration from the beginning, the better chance for success.

(Next page: The second essential step)

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