K-12 is essentially an American expression that refers to education imparted to all classes from Kindergarten to 12th grade and includes primary, middle and high school education. In the era of the Internet, online textbook solutions for K-12 are increasingly finding favor with schools to supplement classroom teaching. This is because online textbook solutions for K-12 are interactive in nature. The highly visual content, which includes audio-visual files, makes learning more interesting and sparks interest in young minds.
Secondly, these online textbooks sometimes have educational content in the form of games, something which generation Z can easily relate to. These games have various levels and incorporate rewards, recognition and leaderboards that motivate the students to interact with the content and learn by doing. Online textbook solutions for K-12 also leverage various types of multimedia to support immersive storytelling which hooks the students’ attention and enables long-term learning. These solutions are also beneficial to the instructors as they can use them as teaching aids to support their lessons and make teaching more effective.
How to create online textbook solutions for K-12?
While it is very simple to publish textbooks online, the real challenge lies in creating the content. Primarily, there are two things to keep in mind while creating online textbook solutions for K-12- modern pedagogical practices and the use of digital technology.
Let us consider the first aspect, that is, modern pedagogical practices.
The Internet is an extremely crowded space with an ever-widening sea of information clamoring for attention. To be seen, heard and be able to stand out of the crowd, your content has to be appealing, intriguing, and well-packaged to attract and hold attention. In fact, with online media, if you can’t get to the point in the first few seconds, the users will move on to the next topic. With so much content at their disposal, students have a short attention span; meander around the messaging at leisure, and the learners will move on to something else that attracts their attention. So how does this impact online learning? To attract and hold learner attention, you need to create appealing and highly interactive visual content, neatly packaged in micro-bites or condensed capsules which your learners can identify with, easily consume, assimilate, and retain for the long-term.
Apart from microlearning, your online textbook solutions for K-12 should also support mobile learning. Today’s students use their smartphones for everything, from searching for information to playing games to shopping to communicating and learning. With this in mind, your online textbook solutions should be readable on all devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Now coming to the second aspect – the use of digital technology.
The online media is highly visual, incorporating rich use of multimedia such as images, photos, videos, graphics, infographics and PowerPoint to tell a story. Then there are the more advanced features such as AR, VR, simulations and gamification which make learner the main protagonist of the story, enabling them to charter their own paths, and proceed by either trial and error or a well-thought out strategy to meet some predefined goals. In a traditional classroom setting, students of different learning abilities receive the same instruction, resulting in uneven learning with the brilliant students forging ahead and those with relatively low learning abilities lagging behind. Gradually, they get demotivated and the learning gap continues to widen.
Online textbook solutions for K-12 can to some extent help to bridge this gap by giving students greater control over their learning while also enabling them to proceed at their own pace and will. It is seen that all students make different mistakes. Well-designed online textbooks personalize learning, allowing students to make their own mistakes and then course correct towards the predefined goals.
Based on the above discussion, we can summarize best practices for creating online textbook solutions for K-12 as under:
- Create an engaging story: Content for online textbooks, unlike print textbooks, is not linear. This itself requires a shift in the thought process from creating a lesson to creating a story with characters, plot, progress of the plot with various branching scenarios and finally course correction towards the final learning goals.
- Leverage multimedia to tell the story: Once you have the story in place, the next step is to bring it alive using multimedia. With digital media, the students will be able to read the text, listen to the lesson, and also interact with it. Add rewards, recognition and leaderboards to challenge and motivate the learners, immerse them into the story and enable them to forge their own learning paths.
- Keep content concise: While creating online textbook solutions for K-12, break long lessons into small micro-bites, which students can refer to even while on the move or in the comfort of their own space. They can access this content during their breaks, before the start of the lesson, while waiting for the instructor to enter the class or while commuting to and from the school. Microlearning content also prevents cognitive overload and breaks students’ resistance to new learning.
- Mobile learning: Your online textbook solutions for K-12 should be device-independent enabling students to access the files on the device of their choice. This will give the students the flexibility to learn anytime and anywhere.
- Hyperlink your content: With online textbooks, you can leverage the full power of the Internet. Link your content to external or internal resources that allow students to gain access to a plethora of information to either enhance their understanding of the subject or delve deeper for more insights. You can also link your content with an AR app which students can download on their phones. For example, if the lesson is about the human digestive system, students can point the app on this phrase and view a 3D model of the system on their device. Features such as these make learning more real, contextual and interesting.
- Include a digital content library: As part of your online textbook solutions for K-12, you can also include a digital library consisting of highly visual interactive content, which both students and teachers can use to access digital resources to support learning and teaching.
Online textbook solutions for K-12 help to support classroom learning while making learning fun, engaging and immersive for the students. They also equip instructors with the relevant teaching aids to make their lessons more effective. This being said, online textbooks are vastly different from their print counterparts. To create online textbook solutions for K-12 you need to be well-versed with online media best practices and evolving pedagogical trends, and also be proficient with digital technology. While the teachers may be experts in their fields, creating online textbook solutions for K-12 requires different skill sets with an ability to create an engaging story while passing control of learning to students with different branching scenarios, and then bringing them alive with digital technology. The best option is therefore to outsource the creation of online textbook solutions for K-12 to specialized eLearning content development companies who can provide you the much-needed professional support for your endeavors.
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