4 Critical Characteristics of High-Quality Instructional Content
K-12 educators are increasingly turning to digital resources to enhance instruction and address student needs. But not all content is created equal, and educators are often left sifting through hundreds of options to find high-quality material.
K-12 educators are increasingly turning to digital resources to enhance instruction and address student needs.
That’s why, in 2019, Discovery Education conducted a comprehensive research study—including a literature review, focus groups, interviews, surveys and an analysis of data usage—across our digital products and platforms. The study aimed to better understand what educators want, need and expect in their search for and use of digital content. The initial research revealed four critical characteristics of instructional digital content.
Insights from Educators
1. Quality Is Key
Educators seek engaging, hands-on, interactive content that allows students to participate fully and think critically throughout the learning process. It is essential to educators that digital content is vetted by a trusted source. Providing teachers with a wide range of high-quality resources coupled with research-based instructional strategies is also important.
2. There Should Be Something for Everyone
For educators, the biggest advantage of digital resources is the ability to personalize content for students. Educators use a variety of resources to meet the needs and interests of individual students, including videos, images, games, non-fiction text and varying types of assessments. It is important that content offers multiple perspectives on sensitive issues, represents diverse populations and avoids stereotypes. With the flexibility afforded by a full suite of digital content, teachers have the freedom to assign students dynamic work tailored to their needs.
- Picking and choosing digital content
- We asked teachers what they want from edtech. Here's what they said.
- 2016 digital education survey
- E-textbooks: A Personalized Learning Experience or a Digital Distraction?
- Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning
- ASCD and OverDrive survey finds digital content used in 80% of schools and districts
- Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instruction Tools
- What Do Educators Want? Educational Technology Support! Why Do They Want It? To Meet Students’ Needs!
- Changes in What Teachers Know and Do in the Common Core Era
3. Standards Alignment Is Essential
One of the most frequently-cited needs of educators is alignment to standards. Many turn to standards-aligned digital resources for use in the classroom as an alternative to textbooks that are not directly aligned. In fact, whereas teachers’ use of textbooks remained approximately the same from 2015 to 2017, their use of digital resources for standards-aligned teaching greatly increased.
4. Student Engagement Matters
According to educators surveyed, student engagement increases with content that is current and relevant to students’ lives. High-quality video and images matter. Additionally, engagement is increased on digital platforms designed to facilitate both independent and collaborative learning and when students are given opportunities to create, rather than simply consume information.
What Educators Want, What Students Need
Our research points to some clear imperatives. In order to reach all students, educators must have access to the right kind of content—varied resources that are trusted and aligned to standards. Platforms that engage students, personalize their learning experiences and challenge them to work creatively, think critically and interact collaboratively are essential. These are key components to success in the classroom and beyond.
At Discovery Education, our digital resources are built for teachers by teachers, rigorously vetted by our content team and continuously refined to meet the changing demands of the classroom. Discovery Education Experience helps educators draw powerful connections between students’ everyday lives and the subjects they are learning.
In order to reach all students, educators must have access to the right kind of content...
High-quality resources are paired with purposeful instructional supports tailored to each educator’s preferences to bring curricula to life. Content is carefully curated, wrapped with instructional resources and designed based on the Universal Design for Learning principles so that educators can seamlessly differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every student. Teachers are supported with research-based instructional strategies designed to increase student engagement as they make meaningful connections with content.