Digital curriculum is readily available. It’s everywhere and published by everyone. In fact, there is so much digital curriculum available it can be overwhelming to decide what to use and how to store it. Let’s look at some reasons you might use a digital curriculum, how to use it (and not forget you have it), and how to store it.
Reasons you might use digital curriculum
Digital curriculum is usually less expensive than purchasing a print book, but keep in mind that this is only true if you don’t print the book or curriculum. It is usually cheaper for a printer to mass produce the product than for you to print the book at home. Printer ink is not cheap! If you do decide to print it, consider having it printed at your local office supply or copy store.
Additionally, there are some books that are out-of-print and are exorbitantly expensive to purchase used. These are excellent choices to find an ebook version (and preferably a FREE one).
If you find yourself needing to use books or curriculum while out of the house, a digital version may be a good option for you. Depending on how you store it, you can access the curriculum anywhere (from your laptop, tablet, or e-reader) including at the park, in the hospital. at grandparents, or in a motorhome on vacation.
Requires less storage space
This is a pretty obvious reason you might use a digital curriculum. If you live in a small space or travel often, digital books and curriculum are a great choice for you. There are no physical books and binders to store.
Using digital curriculum
It can be easy to forget what digital books and curriculum you own. After all, it’s not sitting on a shelf for you to see. Here are some suggestions for using digital curriculum.
If you find that you need to see a physical copy to remember what you own, you can print a copy at home or your local office supply store. This negates some of the advantages of digital curriculum, but it is an option.
You could also print the cover page and table of contents to store in a binder sorted by subject, time period, or grade level. You would still reap the storage and portability benefits of using digital curriculum, but would have the physical reminder of what you own.
Make a list
You could make a list in a spreadsheet or Evernote of the digital books you own including time periods and subjects covered. When you are ready to plan a new unit or homeschool year, pull out your list and you are set to go.
Probably the easiest way to remember what digital curriculum you own is to maintain a neat and tidy file structure. When you download a new resource, file it in its proper place as soon as possible. When you are ready to use the files, transfer them to your tablet or e-reader. Here is how my digital resources are stored.
Homeschool Planet has an option to upload a file as a resource and associate it with a specific assignment. This can be especially helpful if you have a relevant notebooking page you want your student to use or an article you want him to read. Here’s a short video of how to upload a resource to Homeschool Planet.
How to store digital curriculum
There are several options for storing digital curriculum. I suggest having a backup copy regardless of the method you choose. You never know what will happen to your primary storage method or when your primary storage may crash (such as the night before you need to read the book). Take copyright into consideration when storing on multiple devices (see the section below).
Computer hard drive
Probably the most obvious solution for storing digital curriculum is your computer’s hard drive. While this can be a good option, it also depends on the size of your hard drive. You can quickly run out of space if you purchase a lot of digital books or curriculum.
External hard drive
Another option for storing digital curriculum and books is an external hard drive. This keeps the files off your computer and therefore frees up space. Just plug the external hard drive in to your computer and you are good to go.
Cloud storage is the most versatile solution since you can access it from anywhere and any device. Some good options are DropBox, Box, iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive. Here is a comparison of the most popular services.
It is easy to forget copyright rules when using digital curriculum since it is so much easier to share a file compared to loaning a book. Copyright is definitely a lot more difficult to enforce with digital books. Check the copyright notice in the front of your book as each publisher has a different policy. Most publishers do not mind if you have a redundant copy for backup purposes, but you may not save or print the curriculum, then pass it on to someone else. If you do give the curriculum away, you should delete and destroy all digital and physical copies in your possession.
Digital curriculum provides many benefits including a lower price and more portability. Once you determine how you will store and use it, you can begin reaping the benefits.
You can find other articles about how to use technology in your homeschool from these iHomeschool Network bloggers.
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Read how Louis Benezet, a New England superintendent in the 1930's, implemented this approach in his schools and read about the amazing results he saw.