SETDA Says

Post from March 18th, 2011

Tracking Changes in Digital and Open Content

Tracking changes is not only a feature in Microsoft Word, it also is a crucial component of keeping up to date in education.  Changes in policy do not come easily in many areas of education, especially in an area as fundamental to education as the content used in the teaching and learning process. However, the inexorable pressure of the ubiquity of technology in this country coupled with the recognition that kids today live in a digital world is opening policymakers’ eyes to the importance of having digital, flexible, engaging content throughout education.  As a result about a third of the states have made changes in policy regarding the definition of a textbook and a fifth of the states have taken steps to encourage Open Educational Resources (OER).

This blog is dedicated to charting and analyzing the movement of content in K-12 education from print to digital and open and its impact on reform in K-12 education.


The changes in policy regarding content have been initiated by different actors – governors, legislatures, state boards of education, chief state school officers and the private sector – and for different reasons.  We will look at the actors and the reasons as well as anticipate possible consequences.

Changes to the delivery of content are not happening in isolation, and in fact, their power will lie in the extent to which content interacts with other reform efforts such as the implementation of the common core standards, new models of assessment and fresh ways to provide training and professional development to educators. 

The movement to digital and open content in education has been predated by changes in other areas of our social fabric such as the music industry, the entire publishing industry for newspapers, magazines and books and open source software.  There is much for education to learn from the transitions these industries are going through, especially as new business models emerge. 

New business models around open source software are particularly pertinent for education, not only because states and schools are adopting open source, but also because it has spurred a similar movement in content called Open Educational Resources – free, customizable content licensed under a Creative Commons license.  We will look at this as well.

And finally, we will look at some of the changes in technology that will affect the use of content in education from e-readers to smart phones to tablets.  New web sites and new forms of publishing are emerging almost daily.

We will follow these topics and more and welcome your comments and feedback.  Ultimately we would like to create a dialog that not only informs the field but also informs policymakers.  Join us.

One Response to “Tracking Changes in Digital and Open Content”

  1. B Williams's avatar

    Thank you for the comprehensive overview. One other complex area that plays into the successful picture of this change is having the appropriate infrastructure/devices for students to access the content.

    B Williams