Part 1: Going Digital …Ten Points To Consider When Transforming Towards Digital Curriculum


Everyone is talking about a digital curriculum free of  those hard copy textbooks that have been a part of schooling since the advent of the one room schoolhouse. In this series I will investigate some resources that can open up a world of digital curricula. In this post, I’ll start with ten thoughts for reflection as you go digital. In later posts, I will introduce you to some pretty cool content that can be part of your new digital curriculum. And yes… I even have textbooks covered! Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email . Your subscriptions mean a lot to me!  I’ll have more open source digital ideas in future posts coming your way. You can also follow me on twitter (mjgormans) and of course visit my 21centuryed Wiki. Now, enjoy a visit designed to help you reflect and plan the very future of curriculum as it goes digital. Have a great week – Mike

Note – If you will be traveling to MEC in Tempe Arizona or CUE in Palm Springs California this March 2011 please introduce yourself at one of my sessions. I  am making the trip from Indiana and will have two presentation at each conference. They include Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives… No Future Left Behind, STEM to STEAM to STEAMIE… Turning Up The Temperature, and A 7 Step Approach to Website Evaluation… A-G.

As we venture into the world of the digital curriculum the security of a real textbook, an item we have all  held, grasped, and found comfort in, seems to be endangered. It’s true, the hard copy textbook as we have always known may soon be part of the good old school days of the past. As I reflect on this  I wonder at what point did the textbook become such a central part of the curriculum. I am an analog native (I think) and I remember the days of my first schooling in which the resource primarily used was the textbook! It was one of the few resources available in a classroom that had no television, phone, internet connection, computer or  interactive white board. There was an occasional Weekly Reader, an almost complete set of ten year old World Book Encyclopedias, an occasional filmstrip to make learning interesting, and  a once a month black and white 16 millimeter film that was most engaging when one could see the movie one more time shown backwards. Most content centered around the textbook which, depending on subject, could be brand new… or ten years old. In fact, in many of my classes there was no doubt that the textbook was the curriculum. I remember when I first started teaching over thirty years ago we were reluctant to  write curriculum until we set our eyes on the newly adopted textbook.

So… there you have my thoughts on why the textbook has become the center of curriculum and so very difficult to cast aside. As classrooms transform so must the old friend that accompanied us throughout our schooling and much of our teaching. This is not to say that many teachers didn’t venture outside the textbook for various projects, studies, readings, and adventures. I know that I often took the journey, but always realized that my old friend would be at my side… just in case!  As we slowly say goodbye to this old companion there must be several ideas we contemplate on our way to the digital curriculum. As we reflect and invite this digital transformation, I am sure we will find a curriculum that is alive, relevant, rich, engaging, rigorous, and timely. We may even find a new friend that will be there for us when we need a little textbook digital style!

There is no question that we need to take those steps towards a digital curriculum, after all we live in a digital world. As we begin to put that hard copy textbook in the recycle bin, we must all develop a better understanding of  digital curriculum and what we need as educators to make it a successful reality, a reality that promotes real student learning and achievement.  Allow me to share with you my ten thoughts on going digital.

10 Points To Consider When Transforming Toward Digital Curriculum

1. A digital curriculum requires schools to be  equipped with the necessary infrastructure and technology to deliver true digital content. This requires adequate bandwidth, wireless broadcasting, and necessary student and teacher personal technology. Do schools supply all of this technology or do we find ways to incorporate technology students already own?

2. A digital curriculum is much more than a textbook delivered electronically and disseminated through a Xerox job of thousands of copied PDF files. Adopting a digital textbook, whether it be commercial or open source, can only be part of the picture. Transforming to a digital curriculum demands utilizing a textbook as one entity, not the central piece.

3. A digital curriculum requires that thought be given to student access not just at school but in student homes and the general community. There must be deliberate actions set towards building bridges across the digital divide.

4. A digital curriculum requires sustained professional development that allows teachers to learn, collaborate and plan outside of the traditional textbook box. This includes participation in professional learning communities and webinars blended with ongoing professional development within the school or district. In other words, professional development must contain the very attributes sought in the digital curriculum being implemented for students.

5. A digital curriculum should contain a wide variety of resources and content allowing the teacher to plan engaging learning activities. The process of writing standards should be left at the national and state level. After all, most local standards are copied, pasted and possibly edited from the national and state standards. Teachers in the classroom must be given the time to plan learning and contribute activities that are part of an exciting curriculum.

6. A digital curriculum must open up the doors to not just student consumption of content but to student production. Activities must allow students to recreate, publish, remix, and innovate. This interactivity is the key to creating a digital curriculum that is powerful and effective. A digital curriculum allows the creation of a society of creators, innovators, and learners.

7. A digital curriculum should open up the classroom walls and allow for collaboration between classrooms, communities, and cultures. Additionally, online learning should create classrooms that are hybrid in nature, preparing students for avenues of learning found on the web and for their future schooling. Students must learn the online skills necessary to communicate, collaborate, and learn.

8. A digital curriculum must allow for nonlinear learning, differentiated instruction, backward/inverted teaching, as well as instructional components and ongoing assessment that will bring productivity to the classroom. New technologies are able to infuse these attributes into a digital curriculum resulting in  student engagement, learning and achievement.

9. A digital curriculum must allow for incorporation of innovative instruction such as STEM, PBL, and NETS technology standards. It is a  digital curriculum that has the ability to  finally deliver the aspirations of education reformers such as Piaget and Dewey.

10. A digital curriculum must allow students to be at the center of their education with the teacher actively facilitating and orchestrating real student learning.  Such a curriculum allows students to contribute and design outcomes. It gives students the necessary “Drive” (Daniel Pink) to become actively involved and take charge of their education.

You probably thought I forgot about our old friend, the hard copy textbook. Actually, I didn’t.  I firmly believe that a digital curriculum will still provide access to a virtual textbook that will provide  content that can provide a foundation for necessary understanding. It will be available in a variety of formats to be read on tablet, iPod, Droid, laptop, desktop, or possibly a real piece of paper! As the virtual textbook matures it will become interactive, filled with engaging media, and will be nonlinear. It will remain a good friend… just not the center of the  new digital curriculum! As you continue your journey in the world of the 21st century you just may find that the old textbook really was never quite at the center of your curriculum anyway!

Join me in this continuing series of Going Digital. The next in the series will introduce you to an amazing resource that has free open source books you can remix, edit, and share with students in a variety of ways! Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email! Your subscription means a lot to me and I thank you in advance. Want to know what else is coming your way in future posts? Then take a look below!  In fact you can also give this article a retweet if you scroll to the bottom! Thanks, until next time… start thinking of ways you can go digital.  Have a great week! – Mike

Coming to 21centuryedtech. Sign up by RSS or Email and forward onto a friend!

Are There Really Whales In Lake Michigan?… A Seven Step Approach To Web site Evaluation (A-G) – In this seven part series I will deliver what I believe to be a powerful and meaningful way to teach web site evaluation. It will include downloadable powerpoints, activity sheets, information sheets, posters, and PDF booklets.

* Pushing The Process In  Project Based Learning – In this multi-post, readers will discover one of the best places to learn about PBL, learn how to pump up the power of PBL with technology integration, and learn about some of the key highlights of PBL including project development, writing that driving question, and how sports and athletics are really related.

* A Message From An Almost Analog Native - Wait til you hear about my encounter with an almost analog native. This post is written in the style of my Letter From Santa and I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else. Enjoy a message that  celebrates real teaching… no, it’s not just 21st century! You will want to share!


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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Part 1: Going Digital …Ten Points To Consider When Transforming Towards Digital Curriculum

  1. Jaymej

    Great points to think about. Hopefully we will run into each other at CUE this year.

    • Jayme – I am so looking forward to CUE. I have heard it is such an awesome conference and I know the weather has got to be better then here in Indiana! Thanks for the kind words and feel free to stop by one of my presentations at CUE! Have a great week and please continue to return! – Mike

  2. Pingback: Going Digital …Ten Points To Consider «

  3. Bas

    Thanks for the great tips! We are currently in a process of researching how to adept out education (and therefore our curriculum) to the 21st century. We are aiming to start some form of 1-to-1 digital education, with more personalized curriculums for our pupils, in September 2012. So your tips can helps us get on track. I am looking forward to reading more!
    Kind regards,
    Bas Arbouw
    CSG Groene Hart, The Netherlands
    Teacher of English

    • Bas,
      It is an honor have some of my ideas considered at your school in the Netherlands. I wish you the best as you begin your 1-1 initiative and please keep me posted how your journey develops. I am also on the same journey and invite the opportunity to share notes. Please pass this blog on to others and continue to return so we can learn from each other. Once a gain thank you and best wishes! – Mike

  4. I look forward to joining you in this continuing to learn about Going Digital series as well as your one of PBL. Even with many, many years of teaching under my belt, I feel like such a newbie trying to figure out all the possibilities offered by integrating Web 2.0 tools (and beyond) into the curriculum in our school. Actually it is not so much the possibilities, but rather learning how to use the various tools in order to be able to pick and choose among them. So often I am thankful that our students know more than I and are willing to pass down their knowledge to me and to other students. There are times when I do wish for the ‘textbook’ that would put everything in one place so I could find it when I need it, but down deep I know that is not the solution. So I am determined to disprove the adage that “you cannot teach old dogs new tricks.”.

    • Thank you for the very kind words. I have been teaching 33 years and still am always learning something new. I agree that our students (digital natives) have a lot of skills to share. Don’t forget that you have a lifetime of knowledge and expertise that your students need you for. We as educators that have been in it quite a while can help our students use their digital skills to their best. What a great combination for powerful learning! Please continue to return and share this blog with others! – Mike

  5. Pingback: Part 1: Going Digital …Ten Points To Consider When Transforming Towards Digital Curriculum (via 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning) « K12 TechApps

  6. Looking forward to learning and understanding digital curriculum.. we are try to develop such a curriculum now in our science system. thanks John

  7. liza

    HI Mike your blog sounds great

  8. roter

    HI Mike your blog sounds great 640-816 exam

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