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Three more steps to using digital content: Part 2

On the heels of steps 1-2 come the next 3 steps in moving to digital content

digital-migrationBy now, digital content is on the minds of most educators. Transitioning to digital content, and ensuring that districts have the policies and practices in place to support and sustain that transition, is not an entirely easy process.

Still, following a blueprint of important steps can help school leaders effectively navigate a digital content migration. Last month, eSN shared the first two of five steps in a move to digital content.

During a follow-up webinar, Jonathan Costa, director of school and program services for Education Connection and author of Digital Learning For All, Now!, outlined the next three steps in making this process a success.

(Next page: The next three steps in a digital content migration)

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 focused on the remaining three steps on May 19.

1. Storage and access

Moving to digital content means that that content will be acquired differently. School leaders will need to address how to legally acquire content, where to store it, and what new implications accompany digital content.

“There is no one right answer, and this is true course to course, school to school, and district to district–there are a lot of ways that this can be done successfully,” Costa said. “The best way to approach this is to find the solution that aligns with the course and the people who are going to be supporting the process.”

Legal issues can trip up digital content consumers if they are not careful. Using these resources responsibly means following copyright laws, citing sources correctly, and also modeling responsible decision-making for students.

When it comes to copyright policies, students should know that they must give credit to those who originally created the work students are using or referencing, but policies or resources such as fair use, open source, and Creative Commons should all be reviewed.

Platform choices should be made according to a course’s goals and objectives, as well as the platform’s usability. For instance, will one platform function for every school, or will schools be allowed a choice? Open source platform choices include Google Sites, Moodle, and LiveBinder, while fee-based platforms include Schoology, BrainHoney, and Blackboard.

Hosting options will come into play depending on platform choice, and the platform and host should support the district’s educational goals.

Tech support will be key, and securing IT department buy-in and identifying teacher-leaders are two ways to ensure that technology support is proactive.

Budgets and money are two of the most crucial parts of a digital content migration. Why? Because reallocating and appropriating resources in an efficient and appropriate way will support the move from print to digital.

2. Harvesting

Finding and acquiring different types of digital content, and then figuring out what to do with it once it has been acquired, is the real work and helps bring about the transformation, Costa said.

Types and locations can vary, so educators must be selective and identify high-quality digital content that is diverse, relevant, reliable, and complex enough to challenge students. This digital content can include websites, text, audio, and more. This is where digital citizenship and the ability to locate and evaluate content’s reliability will be especially important.

Bringing in the sheaves: Harvesting content in an organized way can help teachers and students create and contribute to digital content repositories.

“Don’t shortsight kids as potential curation partners,” Costa said. “The skills of understanding what quality content is, where to find it, and how to get it are essential survival skills in the Information Age–learning how to you help your kids become partners in content curation and curation processes [is critical].”

Here today, gone tomorrow” is a useful mantra to keep in mind. Moving to digital content is often desirable because information is constantly changing and being updated. But content could disappear due to that very functionality. Educators should make sure they have a process in place to capture and archive content in case a digital source disappears or changes.

Organizing digital content will aid in creating a repository and ensuring that it is accessible or archived. Organization systems can be collaborative and interactive, and can be customized depending on a district’s or school’s needs.

Continuous improvement will be important as educators and students consistently evaluate digital resources to determine if they support learning outcomes. Considerations include what resources are or are not working, if resources require permissions, and what resources could be added, enhanced, or deleted.

3. Barriers and considerations

“Just because going digital is a good idea does not mean that it will happen the way you plan it,” Costa said. In fact, there will be problems and challenges along the way–and it’s a good idea to prepare for them.

Training and support will be essential not just for staff and students, but also for families. Identifying their needs, staying positive, and planning carefully can help.

Single source goggles should come off. A wide range of digital content helps students build their evaluation skills while also enhancing deeper content knowledge.

Rigor worries may be met by leveraging interactive digital resources to elevate student engagement. Multiple pathways and perspectives offer a more immersive learning experience, in order to counteract the idea that online and digital resources are not as rigorous as traditional textbooks.

Hostile cultures could potentially derail a digital migration before it gets started. Anticipating misconceptions and remaining proactive and transparent will help all stakeholders to see that moving to digital content in a clear and purposeful way is one way to help doubters become comfortable.

Unknown challenges, successes, and questions are a certainty. Flexibility is crucial.

“You know things are going to happen,” Costa said. “Things happen in the analog world, too. we’re just used to dealing with it.”

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