I read an article from the October 2011 issue of THE Journal, titled “Driving Digital Change.” As a recent grad of the Educational Policy Fellowship Program and the current chair of MACUL‘s Advocacy Committee, I found the article very interesting and relevant.
There are about a dozen states that have changed laws or provided initiatives to encourage the use of digital content in schools. The driving force for changing policies having to do with digital content is saving money in a tough economic climate.
The Indiana State Board of Education changed the definition of “textbook” to include digital content. The state allows textbook funds to be used to purchase technology. California, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, and Maine (there may be others) support and fund the use of open educational resources, which is free or low cost materials with Creative Commmons licenses.
The impact of the policies of these states and how they are implemented can provide some logical guidelines for other states. Policy makers should consider some key ideas when considering a move from print to digital content: Instructional materials need to be included with any reform package, implementation must be included as part of policy, and the traditional concept of “instructional materials” needs an update.
If states and districts could work with internet and business-savvy experts to create a more modern, interconnected vision for content, then related areas, like professional development and assessment, might become more cost-effective and efficient. Then and only then will policy for instructional materials reach every district.
The market is wide open for companies to develop and bring mobile technology with digital content to schools in our nation. The “winner” will be a concept that includes device, content, and an easy management system for delivering individualized content to meet the needs of all learners.