Themes and questions are emerging after a dozen conversations with almost 100 thought leaders, school administrators, policy makers, online learning providers.
Most Digital Learning Council members want to see all students have broad access to quality digital learning—choice to the course level with money following the student to the best option. Big questions remain:
- What about states with big funding inequity? Will local funding follow students to courses provided by folks out of district or out of state?
- If kids take units of instruction from multiple providers, who provides the computer and broadband?
- Should the state provide access devices (like Maine) or encourage kids to bring their own devices and provide a scholarship system? Could the feds provide matching funds to states (with repurposed eRate)?
If students progress based on demonstrated mastery, it raises some interesting questions
- How to provide online on-demand end of module/course exams? Will states still need to give end of year exams for school accountability?
- If kids move at their own pace, what about social learning, peer tutoring, working in teams, and socialization?
- If state consortia implement online assessment, won’t all kids need access by 2014 anyway?
It sounds like digital content will quickly move past digital textbooks to libraries of adaptive content including games, sims, virtual environments, and customized instruction. None of that lends itself to the traditional textbook adoption process. So
- Should states play a role in aggregating open and licensed digital content?
- How to ensure quality digital content without blocking innovation?
- What about internet safety of 24/7 access?
If students have access to lots of providers and some teachers are local and some are remote (like several states remote),
- How should certification work? Does it still make sense?
- What about preparation? Should all teachers be trained to teach online?
The DLC wants to make recommendation not just for a few kids taking online courses but for all kids in a digital future. So members are asking themselves:
- To speed the transition to a blended future, should states require an online course every year of high school?
- What kind of help will schools and teachers need help migrating to a blended future?
The DLC is a project of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and is co-chaired by governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise. The policy platform will be released November 30. The DLC welcomes your questions and comments. You can also find us on facebook.