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Publishers Offer 11 Tips for Choosing a Digital Resource for the Classroom

Publishers identify the essential components to help educators identify which products are right for their classroom for digital learning day

Washington, DC; Feb. 22, 2017 – With about one third of new PreK-12 educational materials including a digital component, digital products play a large role in the classroom. Among the many tools available for teachers are software, learning management platforms, stand-alone games, and textbook bundles that include digital components like apps, web- or cloud-based programs, eBooks, or video. The scope and variety of available products – both print and digital – can provide a challenge for teachers and school districts in identifying the resources that best benefit their students.

Often with all of the innovations, the technology or device is often mistaken as the most important piece that makes a product successful, rather than the actual educational lessons they host. For educational publishers, the focus on quality content is the first and most essential ingredient for any effective learning resource.

“There are quite a number of factors to consider for schools and classrooms that decide to go fully digital or to incorporate digital materials – from which products to use, to how to best integrate them. We hope to help make the process simpler and have learned through our REVERE Awards program, which identifies the best of the best products in terms of content and delivery, what make teachers and students click away,” said Jay Diskey, Executive Director of the PreK-12 Learning Group at the Association of American Publishers.

The AAP REVERE Awards recognize effective resources for teaching and learning every year. Through the process of identifying quality materials, AAP has learned many lessons about the elements of digital products that can enhance the content.

Below are 11 essential components of a quality digital resource.

  1. Reliability: The technology behind the product should not only be up-to-date and work on the latest operating systems; it should also be tested from all user perspectives.
  2. Fit for Purpose: First, last and most important: learning is the primary focus. Everything about the digital product should be in service of its educational goal. The digital program should be based on up-to-date standards and current research. The program should have a clear scope and sequence, and it must meet quality assurance measures.
  3. Interoperability: Modern school ecosystems are made up of a variety of digital resources. Helpful resources use common industry standards and formats so that they can be easily integrated into existing systems.
  4. Accountability: Parents and educators need evidence that the product is helping students meet their learning goals. Products should provide easily understood data on a student’s individual progression in concert with information on class progression.
  5. Flexibility: Teachers and students should have the ability to choose individual lessons as needed or work through an entire progression. Content should be accessible in meaningful units rather than needing to be ingested in one sequence with no variation. Also, teachers need to be able to customize the data they need to monitor.
  6. Accessibility: Digital products should be developed so they are usable by students of various learning abilities. Products should be able to interact with students using readers, closed captioning, etc.
  7. Interactivity: While the content is key, teachers should take advantage of the benefits of technology to engage students.
  8. Teacher assistance: No matter the scope of the product, there should be separate guidance for teachers that explains the technical aspects of how the product works as well as the pedagogy and learning goals. Robust customer service and professional development for teachers is also important.
  9. Usability: It should be simple for users to learn how to perform basic commands quickly (e.g., save, help, and exit). Teachers should be able to easily guide students who are on different parts of the program, and use a dashboard.
  10. Expertise: Make sure that the creators of the program have expertise in the subject area of the product. Putting together an app with basic math problems does not mean that a developer has the background to sequence them properly.
  11. Student Data Privacy: It’s critical that that students’ privacy is protected while using digital products. Technology should be evaluated to ensure that it meets a school’s data privacy requirements.

Click here to see the list in a slideshare.

About AAP

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents nearly four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning, education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the publishing industry’s legislative, regulatory, and trade priorities regionally, nationally and worldwide. These include copyright and related intellectual property rights, piracy and enforcement strategies, digital growth and related business models, funding for education and libraries, fair tax and trade policies, and freedom of expression and literacy debates.