As access to instructional technology continues to become the norm in schools throughout the world, educators are increasingly turning to digital content to enhance instruction and address the needs of their students. Understanding educators’ behaviors and requirements when they search for and use digital content in their classrooms is an essential part of the process of creating digital content for education.
What Educators Want
In 2019, Discovery Education conducted a comprehensive study to better understand how and why educators and students utilize digital content and identify the characteristics of content they see as high quality. Below are some of the key trends that emerged.
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1. Student Engagement
Engagement is key. More than 98 percent of educators surveyed rated student engagement as an important or very important factor when deciding what digital content to use. The challenge is making sure we understand how educators define engaging content According to the educators we surveyed, engaging content will:
- Hold students’ attention.
- Stimulate student interest.
- Use appropriate pacing.
- Include current information that is relevant to students’ lives.
- Showcase updated images, vivid color, and authentic video footage.
According to one educator, “If it doesn’t engage the kids, it doesn’t matter how much it connects with standards.”
Notably, when discussing their perceptions of Discovery Education’s digital content both elementary and secondary educators commented on the appropriateness of the content and the various features that would support and engage their students, including the quality of the imagery and the pacing.
2. Accurate, Reliable, & Relevant Information
Get it right. Ninety-two percent of educators in the study look for content that has been vetted by a trusted source. Many participants called this a top priority, especially middle and high school educators.
3. Support for Diverse Student Populations
Reflect the diversity of the students we teach. More than 80 percent of educators in the study believe that it is important or very important that digital content offers multiple perspectives on sensitive issues, represents diverse populations, and avoids stereotypes. Additionally, teachers seek hands-on1, interactive content (2) that allows students to participate fully and think critically throughout the learning process.
Educators also want digital content that includes functional features to support student learning and diverse audiences, such as questions embedded in the content, glossaries, graphics, and accessibility features like closed captioning and read-aloud. Participants also stressed the importance of translations, especially in Spanish.
4. Instructional Value
Provide guidance and strategic support. A majority of participants expect digital content to meet instructional standards, and many educators want instructional resources to support their use of digital content, including lesson plans and ideas, vocabulary support, questions to strengthen comprehension, and ready-to-use resources for students.
When looking at needs by grade level, K-5 teachers want assets that include questions to focus understanding of content and closed captioning and vocabulary to support students, while grade 6-12 teachers value the usefulness of content that goes beyond that they might normally provide in their classroom, such as current events, information on careers related to their subjects, and information that might lead to further research or exploration.
DE is Determined to Deliver
At Discovery Education, we are always learning from our users and constantly exploring what educators want, need, and expect in their quest for digital content and instructional technology. The dynamic Discovery Education platform was built for teachers by teachers, and continuously refined to meet the changing needs of the classroom.
Our high-quality content is carefully curated, paired with relevant strategic resources, and designed around the Universal Design for Learning framework so educators can easily and seamlessly differentiate instruction to meet the unique needs of every class and every student. With DE, educators are equipped with the tools they need to draw powerful connections between students’ everyday lives and the subjects they are learning, bringing new excitement and opportunities to the classroom—and beyond
1McKnight, K., O’Malley, K., Ruzic, R., Horsley, M. K., Franey J. J., Bassett, K. (2016). Teaching in a digital age: How educators use technology to improve student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48(3,) 194-211. DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2016.1175856
2Dobler, E. (2015). E-textbooks a personalized learning experience or a digital distraction? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(6), 482-491.