Herb Miller
5 things schools should think about before investing in digital

The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by OverDrive Education.

Making the switch to or adding ebooks and audiobooks to your district or school can feel like a big undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are five things to consider to avoid costly or time-consuming pitfalls.

  1. Develop a content strategy. One of the most important considerations is to determine which service can provide you with the best combination of ebooks and audiobooks from the best combination of publishers.

    While a lot of districts and schools are actively seeking English language arts content, if you do your homework, you can offer students a complete digital package that includes additional subjects, like science, math, social studies and foreign languages.

  2. Ensure device compatibility. What does your district or school’s device mix look like? How can you make it easy for students and teachers to access the digital content they need on all their devices – whether its school-issued or personally owned? Students primarily access ebooks on laptops and tablets but they might also read on smartphones and e-readers.

    You’ll want to opt for a digital content provider that offers a wide range of device compatibility to maximize accessibility for all students, especially in bring-your-own-device programs.

  3. Plan for return on investment. Something to think about is how to maximize return on investment. One way to do this is to find a provider who will ensure institutional control of the content year after year, so you can be sure the content is up to date.

    A central platform gives everyone in the district access to the same titles. With that type of unified approach, you can get the most from your digital content investment.

  4. Think about other resources needs. Before going digital, it's a good idea to decide how you plan to use this new content. Most districts and schools are looking for more than just textbooks. They want to supplement their curriculum.

    If this is something that you’re looking to offer, then you’ll want to find a provider that offers additional content areas, such as informational texts, literary nonfiction, professional development and literacy engagement and library resources.

  5. Consider your budget. No doubt about it, budgeting for digital content is a major consideration.

    In a survey of K-12 administrators from across the country, the district (66 percent) was the most frequently mentioned funding source for digital content, followed by grants (37 percent) and local funds (29 percent). The participating administrators reported allocating an average of 34 percent of their instructional budget toward digital content. This number is expected to
    rise alongside planned increases in usage.

    To make the best use of your funds, choose a digital provider that only charges for the cost of content, with no additional hosting or platform fees.

Herb Miller, Ed.M., director of education for OverDrive, works with districts around the country  to support district implementation of digital content in an impactful, sustainable and cost-effective manner.  Herb leverages his Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and previous experience working with educational technology publisher, and professional development organizations, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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