This month, Senior Digital Consultant Carrie Watkins was invited to speak with the PAISBOA (Philadelphia Area Independent School Business Officers Association) technology group about digital options. Here are some of the key take-aways, as well as the presentation itself. If you think your school or organization would benefit from this conversation, please don’t hesitate to contact your account manager. We would be happy to work with you through a webinar or an on-site visit.
Developing a digital strategy – content or otherwise – starts with your school mission.
I have yet to meet a school whose mission says anything about technology. And for good reason. The school should be focused on developing learners, cultivating curiosity and providing strong foundations. So where does technology fit in? And where does digital content fit in? Creating strong collaborators may take you down one content path while promoting strategic thinking may take you down another. Truly understanding what you want content to do – and with it the technology – will better help you frame the type of content you want to use.
“Digital Content” means different things to different people.
Be sure you understand what your options are and how they differ from one another. Telling your faculty to find “digital” content can give you a mess of different platforms, access points and purchase processes. When it comes to e-books, are you looking for collaboration tools like exporting and sharing notes, or embedded videos and resources directly in the book? Publisher portals, often delivered through access codes, can provide teachers and students with a wealth of material to make the course come alive. But each portal is different and some of them require setup prior to class start. If your faculty are easily intimidated by technology, that might not be the best route. And then there are digital course packs and open educational resources (OER), where faculty members pick and choose the material that best fit the class. If you have teachers confident enough in their material and/or their search capabilities, these may be options for them. Just be sure everyone is following the correct copyright restrictions.
Ask questions and get samples.
Before you choose any piece of content, don’t be afraid to ask questions. How will students access it? How will teachers access it? Does it allow offline access? How much does it cost, and what does that cost entail? Are there features not available at that cost? Who do students contact when something isn’t working? Who do faculty contact when something is not working? And most importantly, make sure you are able to use the content on your device and on your infrastructure. All the marketing materials can say it works on the device your school is using, but until you try it, you never really know.