A Revolution in K-12 Digital Content: How Soon Is Now?
As school districts across the country are slowly developing more sophisticated strategies to succeed in data-rich, high-accountability environments, the specific role of digital content within the K-12 ecosystem remains unclear. Some advocates have touted the power of digital content to revolutionize teaching and learning – empowering teachers and fostering greater creativity; increasing student engagement; and yielding cost savings that could, in turn, be redirected to investments in classroom instruction. Despite great enthusiasm regarding its promise, however, spending on digital content remains a small fraction of overall spending – roughly $1.3 billion (12%) of the total $10.5 billion currently invested in K-12 instructional materials.
Many across the industry are beginning to sense that a tectonic shift is occurring. Whether, when, and under what circumstances digital content may begin to play a more prominent role in K-12 education depends on the answers to several important questions:
- How are digital content resources currently being used?
- What role do classroom teachers and district officials expect digital content to play moving forward?
- What do districts currently purchase, what are their top priorities for new purchases, and how much are they willing to pay?
- What are the perceived benefits of, and barriers to, increased adoption of digital content resources in the classroom?
- Is a one-to-one student computing ratio a prerequisite before digital content can flourish?
- Can publishers pursue opportunities in digital content without cannibalizing revenues from time-tested printed textbook models?
- Is the K-12 industry marking a significant transition to a new, digital future?
This study examines trends in digital content delivery and pricing models; school districts’ priorities and spending patterns; and the dynamics influencing whether digital content may begin to replace, rather than supplement, traditional content markets. The study will help readers better understand where we are today and where we are headed, and provide a framework for identifying and seizing future opportunities in a fast-evolving, competitive landscape.