Innovative Content is Driving the Learning Revolution


MangaHIgh math game

Digital Learning Now, an advocacy initiative chaired by former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise, released a video this week about promoting high quality digital content.  Among the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning, the governors recommend “Digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.”
Digital learning presents three big opportunities emerging from content innovation:

  1. Customization: adaptive content will enabling each student to create their own learning pathway.
  2. Motivation: engaging content will boost persistence and time on task
  3. Equalization: mobile content will ensure that every student has access to the best courses and teachers anytime.

The report urges state policymakers to require alignment of digital content and online and blended learning courses with state standards or common core standards where applicable.
The rest of the recommendations urge states not to constrain innovative content by applying antiquated input controls like a textbook adoption process.  “States should abandon the lengthy textbook adoption process and embrace the flexibility offered by digital content. Digital content can be updated in real time without a costly reprint. The ongoing shift from online textbooks to engaging and personalized content, including learning games, simulations, and virtual environments, makes the traditional review process even less relevant.”
Digital Learning Now suggests a shift from input controls to a focus on outcomes.  Quality providers should receive statewide authorization.  Districts and networks should be held accountable for results.
In addition benefits of engaging personalized content noted above, it will cost less than a stack of textbooks.  Savings in instructional material can help provide mobile access devices (tablets and netbooks) to students that need them.
We are early in the personal digital learning revolution.  Innovative content and related services will be the driving engine if states encourage rather than block progress.


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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