Please Stop Calling It “Digital Content”!

As they should, educators are searching for online courses, apps, programs and software that will help them teach their students.

But educators and vendors alike too often refer to these as “digital curriculum” or “digital content.”

But content or curriculum is the “what” of what you want students to learn. They are the learning targets. 

To me, digital content is a PDF of the Common Core, the Maine Learning Results, or your state’s standards.

Digital learning resourcesAlternately, I refer to online courses, apps, programs, etc., as “digital learning resources.”

And I invite you to adopt this language, too.

And I think there is an even more important reason to shift your language than simply being precise.

Calling learning resources “content” creates a flat, erroneously equivalent comparison between learning resources and learning targets. It’s like saying having an online course is the same as learning a set of learning targets. It totally ignores the role of pedagogy in students’ developing proficiency with curriculum targets.

Further, it reinforces the horribly incomplete notion that learning is simply memorizing facts or applying skills by rote, when, in fact, most instructional models recognize the importance of developing foundational knowledge, but also go beyond this to include practice and deepening understanding, and putting knowledge to use in a real-world context at a deeper level of complex reasoning.

So, please, start using the term “digital learning resources.”

And while you’re at it, please start having more conversations with colleagues about how students learn your curriculum, and about your instruction, and about how varied learning resources can contribute when implementing a rich, 3-dimensional instructional model.