States Need to Plan the Shift & Close the Divide
Over the last ten weeks this blog and video series has featured the Digital Learning Now state policy framework. Co-chair Gov. Bob Wise explains in the final video the importance of infrastructure to deliver on the promise of digital learning.
Element #10 recommends actions for state lawmakers and policymakers:
- State is replacing textbooks with digital content, including interactive and adaptive multimedia.
- State ensures high-speed broadband Internet access for public school teachers and students.
- State ensures all public school students and teachers have Internet access devices.
- State uses purchasing power to negotiate lower cost licenses and contracts for digital content and online courses.
- State ensures local and state data systems and related applications are updated and robust to inform longitudinal management decisions, accountability and instruction.
More than 40 states are planning for the shift to Common Core State Standards and to online assessment over the next three years. The new testing systems will require high access environments. While a few states and districts have provided or will every student with a laptop, most states will need to rely on the development of high access environments that, to some extent, encourage students to utlize their personal mobile technology (often called bring-your-own-device or BYOD).
States will need to set testing standards (proctoring, schedule windows, screen size, etc) and change work with districts to improve student access particularly for students that cannot bring their own device to school.
Digital learning will also support educators in better identifying and meeting student needs by providing them real-time data on student performance, expanded access to resources to individualize instruction, and online learning communities to gain professional development support. Edmodo and Formative Learning (two Learn Capital portfolio companies) are good early examples of professional communities facilitated by an online platform.
States can adopt a variety of approaches to accelerate the shift to digital content, online assessment, and high access environments including learning environments that take advantage of student owned devices. While local choice and options should be empowered, states can use purchasing power to negotiate lower cost licenses and contracts for everything from digital content to access devices to mobile Internet services. Equipment and services can be provided based on financial need. Public-private partnerships can also become a tool to build and sustain the infrastructure for digital learning.
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