10 Feb Digital Content for Transformed Learning
School improvement depends on a deep pool of relevant content: resources that are contextually and developmentally effective for diverse learning needs. Globally, school systems known for improvement prioritise knowledge exchange for dissemination of practices, which is optimised when the work of teachers is respected, valued, trusted and supported (Malone, Rincon-Gallardo & Kew, 2018).
Why does digital content matter in education?
New analysis (Grattan, 2017) shows that Australian school education faces challenges: improving student learning; better preparing young people for adult life; and closing the gap between the nation’s educational have and have-nots. The only way to these challenges is to make our education systems more adaptive.
Becoming adaptive depends in part on the education community sharing, rather than each teacher individually developing, “common lesson plans and formative assessments, careful use of educational technology, more use of tried and tested support materials to enhance student learning and reduce ‘reinvention of the wheel’” as well as releasing teacher time “to build relationships with their students, better target their teaching, or create bespoke instructional experiences that no textbook can hope to achieve.”
Creating effective learning experiences for each child requires “Content that is engaging and based on students’ passions and interests” (Deloitte).
Teacher standards from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) highlight the capabilities required of teachers for digital content creation, sharing, and curation for modern learning,
- Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
- Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.
- Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.
- Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For students, creating and publishing digital content is a general capability in the Australian Curriculum as well as in the Digital Technologies curriculum. If students are expected to be digital content literate, their teachers must have these skills. For this reason, Digital Education Australia recommended use of digital content for improving learning outcomes. The New Media Consortium also emphasises the need for student digital literacy:
Fluency in the digital realm is more than just understanding how to use technology. Learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others. (NMC 2017 K-12 Horizon Report p.4)
Digital content sharing in repositories like Claned is intended to make teacher resources available so others can iterate on it and use it for improved learning, as well as to encourage teacher and student digital fluency.
How do adaptive coherent education systems leverage digital content?
In effective and improving education systems (Fullan, 2017) schools are liberated to create the practices, resources and experiences needed in their context, informed by and building on what works in similar schools. In these schools, teaching is “deprivatised” to enable effective practices to be seen and learned, as well as for professional conversations about improving practices and collective performance.
OECD enumerates further benefits to education organisations that value sharing of digital content.
Positive effects from open sharing are put forward, such as that free sharing means broader and faster dissemination and thereby more people are involved in problem solving which in turn means rapid quality improvement and faster development; decentralised development increases quality, stability and security; free sharing of educational resources reinforces societal development and diminishes social inequality. From a more individual standpoint, open sharing is claimed to increase publicity, reputation and the pleasure of sharing with peers. (OECD, p.5)
Other benefits are listed by JISC.
Digital content sharing fosters professional collaboration and conversation that would not be possible otherwise.
How does CEWA use digital content?
CEWA schools and offices have a tradition of creating and sharing instructional resources. They have used purpose-built portals, LMS platforms, and open web sharing services. LEADing Lights provided Claned as a common, stable service for sharing digital content across CEWA. When a teacher shares content, she decides who has access. When she shares to CEWA, she opens visibility into her practice enabling others to provide constructive feedback and innovations based on her content, for continuous growth across the system.
Claned applies access control based on CEWA Azure Active Directory groups and based on content creator choice. Content creators will decide what access to provide and each content creator is identified by full name.
Content creators apply the professional quality standards to the content they share, just as they would in their own classrooms or other work. They and their local schools or departments may require quality review.
Claned enables users to give feedback on content in the form of comments, follows, likes, and ratings based on sound education research. Ratings span a continuum of challenge level in accordance with Vygotsy’s Zone of Proximal Development, and result in tailored content recommendations.
Guidelines for Educational Digital Content
In many education organisations where sharing of digital content is practiced, a decentralised approach to quality management is used. These organisations relay on professional trust and allow each user of the shared content to decide whether a learning resource is of high quality and useful. Individual expressions of approval are often logged in the content management system using rating, following, liking, or usage. The rationale for this approach is that quality is not inherent to a resource, but contextual. “It is only in the specific learning situation that it can be decided whether a resource is useful or not, and therefore it is the user who should be the judge.” (OECD, p. 8)
For digital content creators, the following guidelines are suggested:
- Clearly stated sources with permission to use and share copyrighted work
- Engaging, relevant, and up-to-date content
- Content that is accurate, objective, and reliable
- Alignment to learning standards
- Accessibility for all learners
- Supportive of differentiated learning and sound pedagogy; fit for CEWA students
More detailed digital education resource rubrics are available from https://www.achieve.org/publications/achieve-oer-rubrics
Policies for Digital Education Content
Teacher-created digital content policies typically pertain to legal issues such as ownership, quality issues such as reviews and ratings, and access issues such as universal design and technical standards. This discussion focuses on quality policies. A range of policy guidelines is provided by the European Commission, SETDA and UNESCO.
- Ensuring that educators are provided with technical assistance and professional development opportunities to select and use, create, and modify digital materials in alignment with standards and pedagogy to improve learning.
- Ensuring that educators have access to online repositories that store quality digital educational content.
- Guidance on quality control including evaluative instruments like rubrics addressing the guidelines in the section above.
- Research, evaluation and review of data on relationships between use of content and student outcomes.
Malone, H., Rincon-Gallardo, S & Kew, K. (2018) Future directions of educational change. Routledge.
Grattan Institute Towards an Adaptive Education System for Australia, https://grattan.edu.au/report/towards-an-adaptive-education-system-in-australia/
Deloitte Digital education 2.0: From content to connections, https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/deloitte-review/issue-16/future-digital-education-technology.html
ISTE Standards for Educators, https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators
Australian Curriculum, https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/?dnsi=1
Digital Australia, Beyond the Classroom: A New Digital Education for Young Australians in the 21st Century, https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/deag_final_report.pdf
New Media Consortium 2017 K-12 Horizon Report, https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmccosn-horizon-report-2017-k-12-edition/
Michael Fullan on Public school improvement, Australian Education Union 2017, https://www.aeuvic.asn.au/michael-fullan-public-school-improvement
iNACOL standards for quality online courses. https://www.inacol.org/resource/inacol-national-standards-for-quality-online-courses-v2/
OECD Open Educational Resources: Opportunities and Challenges http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/37351085.pdf
UNESCO Open Education Resources Programme, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/access-to-knowledge/open-educational-resources/documentary-resources/
JISC Open Education Resources Guide, https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/open-educational-resources
SETDA Digital Content guides and policy brief, http://www.setda.org/priorities/digital-content/
European Commission Review of OER Quality Issues, https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/state-art-review-quality-issues-related-open-educational-resources-oer