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80 percent of schools using digital content, says ASCD survey


Survey reveals that as digital content use increases, the marketplace should ensure content is easy to integrate

Eighty percent of school and district leaders responding to a recent survey said they use digital content in their curriculum or outside the classroom in certain ways, although equity concerns prevent some educators from going all-digital.

Of the more than 2,000 survey respondents, 73 percent have a digital device strategy and 64 percent are aligning their digital content plan to that strategy, Respondents also reported that the ability to deliver individualized instruction, greater student engagement, and movement toward a one-to-one program have spurred the increased digital content use.

Digital Content Goes to School: Trends in K-12 Classroom e-Learning,” was released by ASCD and OverDrive. ASCD members served as the survey’s participants.

Responding educators most want digital content for English/language arts (74 percent), science (62 percent), math (61 percent), and social studies (56 percent). Surveyed school and district administrators said they believe digital content use will continue to grow and be successfully integrated into curriculum if teachers receive proper professional development.

Next page: What’s preventing the transition to all-digital?

Devices used for digital content include laptops (75 percent), tablets (62 percent), personal computers (49 percent), and smartphones (17 percent).

“We believe the paradigm of instruction needs to change,” said Kahle Charles, executive director of curriculum, St. Vrain Valley Schools, Longmont, Colo., who is quoted in the study. “Devices bring more knowledge to students’ fingertips than the teacher can give, so the traditional lecture model is no longer applicable. We want content that will engage students and the ability to introduce flipped classrooms with content that students can access at any time, at any place.”

The top roadblocks or hesitations related to going digital include:

  • Equity concerns and lack of home internet access
  • Fear of teachers not wanting to go digital and teachers not being prepared, comfortable, or effective with digital learning
  • Not enough devices to properly implement digital learning
  • Lack of funding
  • Content not working on all devices

“It is clear from reading the open-ended responses that there is confusion in the marketplace about the availability of personally owned devices, how the devices they have can best be used, and the ability of different types of vendor models that can serve to address their concerns,” the authors wrote.

“The use of digital content in schools is no longer a new frontier, but many comments from these educators expressed confusion and uncertainty about their long-term path with digital content. It is incumbent upon the publishers and distributors of digital content to address these concerns and provide solutions to educators grappling with this new content, offering options that meet the educator’s need for content and providers that support differentiated or personalized learning,” they added.

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Laura Ascione

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