By Lisa Gillis
What is “digital learning?” How will it transform the educational system in the US? What principles, policies, and recommendations need to be in place to create this system?
Recently, seventy of the brightest minds in the US gathered together to launch the Digital Learning Council to explore these questions and discover what governmental policy changes would be needed to create a high-quality digital landscape for students, teachers, their parents and communities. Co-chaired by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, the DLC identified 12 core focus areas to create the roadmap to usher in this innovative digital landscape across the United States. These prominent leaders represent — not just education — but politics, business, science, philanthropy, and technology.
One of the focus areas identified by the council is access. Every student, in every school, in every state must have access to not only technology and computers, but high quality content, qualified teachers, engaging lessons and opportunities to interact with their peers in the learning process.
Another focus area is the emerging role of the online teacher and issues such as national accreditation and teacher preparation programs. With the number of students studying online rapidly growing, quality standards will be recommended for virtual programs and schools to ensure that they meet rigorous criteria for excellence. Matriculation issues such as course completion criteria and eliminating “seat time” for funding and academic credit will also be studied. Fair and equitable funding formulas must be realized to ensure that schools get the support they need to offer high quality digital learning opportunities whether it be in the physical or virtual classroom.
Many misconceptions still exist about what digital learning is and how it is positively affects the millions of students already involved in this innovative form of education.
The DLC will offer recommendations for dispelling these myths and educating the policymakers from the federal level down to the local level. Finally, policy frameworks will be examined to establish a model upon which further development and adoption can be based.
This is the first time such a powerful group of professionals been assembled to take a hard look at these issues and provide a cohesive set of policy principles to guide the development of the school of tomorrow, even as it increasingly gains acceptance as the school of “today.” Join the discussion and follow the progress of the DLC on the Foundation for Excellence in Education and EdReformer websites.
By Lisa Gillis