Choosing Digital Curriculum
I was reading an education related web forum recently and came across a submission from a high school teacher who was seeking advice on what criteria to look for when selecting online curriculum for use with her students.
When reviewing digital content to use as part of your instructional materials, or perhaps even a complete online course, there are factors to consider that are both similar and different to what you may look for in a traditional text-based curriculum resource. Three examples include:
Who is the publisher content? The internet provides us with access to materials and information in a way never before seen by previous generations of students. With this however is the reality is that we all know what is published online is not often vetted for truth nor academically appropriate. Sticking with digital content that was professionally developed by organizations and/or teachers who have experience in producing educational materials is typically your best choice.
What standards are the content aligned to? There is value, if not a requirement for public educators, in checking on which academic standards the content is designed to address. If alignment to state school board approved standards is not relevant in your decision making, consider the standards set forth by the various curriculum counsels such as the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, English, etc. Reputable digital content publishers will have this information readily available.
What ancillary materials are required? When reviewing digital content and online courses, be sure to find out if there are additional resources that your student will need. Ancillary materials could be an accompanying textbook or workbook to purchase, lab kits, or even software downloads that may be required; all of which could add to the overall cost of implementation.
These are just a few of the questions that you will want to consider. Equally important are questions related to cost, how assessments are delivered, how student performance is reported, and the over interactive elements of the digital content. This last one is especially important in my experience. Asking students to utilize digital content that lacks interaction is about as fun and exciting for them as being told to read a textbook from cover to cover.
NJASA has recently announced the creation of New Jersey Online Learning Services, offering students in your district the opportunity to enroll in a variety of high-quality online courses. Please consider participating in our free webinar series in which an online learning topic is addressed each month.
If you have questions about digital content and the use of online learning and what options may be available to you, e-mail me at: email@example.com