By Lisa Gillis

When it comes to digital learning, how do we balance quality with innovation?  What guidelines should be used when looking at the development and use of quality digital instructional materials? Is this discussion bigger than e-books?

Members of the Digital Learning Council grappled with these and other questions this past week when they met to discuss guiding principles needed to establish a roadmap for the development of this revolutionary form of learning.  Members cautioned against applying the traditional textbook review and adoption process to digital content as it would stifle innovation, create a barrier to timely revisions and stall the ability to be create an adaptive, individualized and dynamic learning experience.

Some members suggested that digital content would include the best of creative design including videos, games, simulations, adaptive curriculum and should possess the ability to produce evaluative data on student achievement and growth.  Digital libraries would be created to provide greater access and allow for educators to share the best lessons with each other – regardless of geographic boundaries. What emerged from the conversation was a realization that as we are creating this new digital landscape, we don’t want to fall into the trap of “business as usual” and settle for just electronic versions of current textbooks.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with these e-books, the power of integrating dynamic and interactive content would provide our kids with an educational program equal to the expectation of their culture.  The technology used in the entertainment world should be leveraged to harness the attention and interest of kids with real-time feedback, complex problem solving exercises and the satisfaction of completing a lesson – all within the context of true engagement.

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