Back-to-school.jpgEducational association ASCD and OverDrive have teamed up to survey “over 2,000 school- and district-based administrators” in the U.S. on their use of digital content. The resulting survey, “Digital Content Goes to School: Trends in K-12 Classroom e-Learning,” found the headline figure that 80 percent of the (large) survey sample are already using “digital content – including eBooks, audiobooks and digital textbooks.” Furthermore, “digital content currently occupies about one-third of the instructional materials budget and the use of digital content continues to grow.”

Out of the 80 percent in the ASCD/OverDrive survey already using digital content, the survey finds 40 percent are actually using it as part of their curriculum. Educators are also coordinating digital device policies with their use of digital content: “73 percent have a device strategy and 64 percent align their digital content plan with this strategy.” The survey finds quite a range of devices used: laptops (75 percent), tablets (62 percent), personal computers (49 percent), and even smartphones (17 percent).

The findings also include the information that “teachers most desire English/Language Arts (ELA) content in digital format (74 percent), followed by science (62 percent), math (61 percent) and social studies (56 percent).” OverDrive also emphasizes specifically in the report announcement that “hundreds of schools across the country have increased integration by using popular digital content in a variety of innovative ways, including adopting digital novel sets for ELA classes this school year.” The entire free report is available for download here.

What should be very clear from all of this is that, whatever the print v. digital debate among general readers, and the periodic scare stories about kids’ digital addiction, where content and texts really matter and make a genuine impact on lives, professionals are fully committed to digital solutions. Not exclusively, but substantially. If there still is a digital debate in U.S. education, one side appears to have definitively won it.



  1. Here’s how to do the survey: survey high school STUDENTS and ask them how many times in the past school year have they downloaded an ebook for a class. I would be very surprised if it’s over 10% for high school students and over 5% for middle school students. This survey is also capturing wishful thinking; it is surveying educational administrators instead of teachers.

    (Alternatively you could survey individual teachers and ask them how many times they have assigned students to read an online resource via ebook or web).

    I can only speak about reading classes, but it’s still cheaper to buy several class sets of books than to implement a device + Overdrive solution. The main reason is that used paperbacks are very cheap…..

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