Author Archive

Student Voices Reflections – Northfield Community Middle School


During the 016 SETDA Leadership Summit, we had the priveldge of presenting during the Student Voices Luncheon. We were so thankful to have such a wonderful experience being the three young ambassadors from New Jersey Northfield Community Middle School going to Washington D.C, It was an incredible and a life changing experience!  The opportunity allowed us to meet a numerous of STEAM educators and innovators, showing us what we can accomplish as we grow up.  

We were lucky to have a team of such wonderful fellow students to help us throughout the process of getting everything ready for our presentation.Our self-appointed team was made up of people we were comfortable working with and everyone played a specific role to support the development of an informimg_3166ational video about our school and prepare our presentation. Working with a team made the job easier and less awkward to complete the project plus, it was a lot more fun and helped make the experience more memorable. Although some people might work better at a quiet desk in silence, we chose to take a different route which involved laughing, cracking jokes, and enjoying our voice in the school.

The event itself was nerve-wracking at first, watching hundreds of people file into the ball room just to see us talk about our school. We were dressed well, rehearsed and waiting with microphones. We remember how professional and important each of us felt. We looked around the room, and could tell each and every individual had a busy schedule, and somewhere to be. We thought about how that day, we were those people too – with an important appointment to present. 

First, we spoke about ourselves, about our lives and about who we are. That calmed the nerves of the three of us before we began the presentation on our school learning experiences. When we finally started talking about our extraordinary school, something we have waited so long to do. The words flowed out of our mouths, it is easy to present something you are passionate about. We were able to share examples of our hands on 3-D printing projects including a prosthetic hand and our innovative learning spaces in the hallways and classrooms. Plus, we shared how we have our own student lead sessions like “unconferences” as part of our school day. The leaders asked questions about our teachers and principal and our plans for the future. Everyone was really paying attention and enjoyed the event. 

Being able to make the most of our lives and SETDA adventure was our priority. After nailing our presentation, we were thrilled to take a tour around Capitol Hill. Seeing all of the powerful businessmen and women reminded us how lucky we are to have a voice in our community and school. Having this chance to learn about STEAM, communication, government and entrepreneurship was really enthralling. Meeting these fantastic role models inspired all of us in different ways. This responsibility has improved our: confidence, voice, personality, and our overall well being. Honestly, this experience changed our lives forever. 

If you have students that can get the chance to participate in this program and share the impact that digital learning has on their education and lives you should make sure they are nominated for 2017.

~ Rebecca Brown, Giselle Obergfell, Aryan Preetom
Northfield Community Middle School Class of 2017

2017 Nominations: Nominations for the 2017 Student Voices Award will open in April. SETDA members and partners have the opportunity to nominate a school or district for this prestigious award. Winners receive a scholarship to Washington D.C. both to present and participate in the Leadership Summit and to tour D.C. Contact Christine Fox with questions.

Underwriting Opportunity: If you are interested in supporting the 2017 Student Voices Winners contact Missy Greene at [email protected] or 202-715-6636 ext. 703. Support includes 9 months of engagement with SETDA leaders.

Digital Learning: A Retrospective of SETDA’s Best Resources in 2016


Through the continued leadership of the Board of Directors and the dedication of our members and staff, during 2016 SETDA celebrated 15 years of leadership, hired a new permanant Executive Director ~ Dr. Tracy Weeks, published a new strategic plan,  developed resources to advance learning in the digital age and provided opportunities for state leaders to collaborate with one another and with private sector industry leaders. Based on the needs of our members and partners, SETDA focused efforts on developing resources and provided support for ESSA, equity of access, digital instructional materials and the implementation of digital learning. SETDA continues to expand outreach including adding new Affiliate partners such as the State Instructional Materials Review Association (SIMRA) and KanRen and by providing technical assistance to state Title IIA leaders. SETDA looks forward to new opportunities to provide sustained support for state digital learning leaders. To stay up to date on SETDA’s latest work subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter @setda.



SETDA’s 2017-2020 strategic plan was adopted and released by the SETDA Board of Directors in October 2016 after extensive consultation with the membership and partners. SETDA looks forward to connecting with education leaders to implement the plan over the next three years.

15th_anniversary_stackedThrough out 2016, SETDA celebrated our 15th year which culminated with the Annual Awards Gala at the Leadership Summit in October. Take a moment to view SETDA resources and relationships “through the years”.

CoverBroadbandStateLeadership SETDA and Common Sense Kids Action‘s report, State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access highlights the powerful impact of state leadership in driving critical policy decisions at the national and state level to support broadband networks, bandwidth capacity and home access for low-income families. Educators, policy makers and the private sector will benefit from organized and accessible information regarding states’ broadband and wi-fi implementation for all 50 states, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands. The report focuses on these areas: K-12 Broadband and Wi-Fi Connectivity, State Leadership for Infrastructure, State Broadband Implementation Highlights, State Advocacy for Federal Support of Broadband.

BbandImperativeII_MiniCoverThe Broadband Imperative II: Equitable Access for Learning, SETDA continues to advocate for increasing robust access both in and out of school to best prepare all students for college and careers. This 2016 report expands on earlier recommendations from SETDA’s groundbreaking report, The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs and SETDA and Common Sense Kids Action’s State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access reportRecommendations include: 1. Increase Infrastructure to Support Student-Centered Learning 2. Design Infrastructure to Meet Capacity Targets 3. Ensure Equity of Access for All Students Outside of School 4. Leverage State Resources to Increase Broadband Access

SETDA in the News: If you missed any of SETDA’s media coverage for 2016 you can always access SETDA initiatives and staff In the News and the 2016 Press Releases.


In the Thanksgiving: SETDA's 15 Years

Since 2001, SETDA has served and supported educational technology leaders across the country from Alaska to Maine, Florida to Hawaii and as far away as Guam and American Samoa. Our state members, corporate partners, affiliates and alliance partners have rallied to support the implementation of digital learning opportunities in K-12 education from basic infrastructure to implementation to assessment and evaluation. As we approach Thanksgiving, SETDA would like to share the top 15 things this organization is most thankful for:

1. Innovative Thinkers
2. Founding Members
3. State Leadership
4. Corporate Partners
5. Federal Dialogue
6. States Sharing
7. Board Members
8. Countless Volunteer Hours
9. Committee Leadership
10. Emeritus Members
11. Student Voices
12. Philanthropic Support
13. Committed Staff Members
14. Partner Organizations
15. Dedication to Student Learning

The power of SETDA is in the people that make this organization a tremendous asset to the educational technology community. Thanks to all of you that have supported SETDA over the years and cheers to at least 15 more years of collaboration opportunities. Happy Thanksgiving to All! Below are two videos highlighting SETDA’s leadership and SETDA members from 2001-2015.

SETDA Leaders Through the Years (2001-2016) from SETDA on Vimeo.

SETDA Leads: 15th Anniversary from SETDA on Vimeo.

Opportunity: Teacher Prep Challenge in Support of Digital Learning

National Ed Tech Plan

NETP Cover


SETDA is excited to share the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) latest initiative, the Teacher Preparation Challenge. This program encourages teacher preparation programs to commit to the four key principles identified in the 2016 National Educational Technology Plan for the use of educational technology in teacher preparation:

  • Focus on the active use of technology to enable learning and teaching through creation, production, and problem solving.
  • Build sustainable, program-wide systems of professional learning for higher education instructors to strengthen and continually refresh capacity to use technological tools to enable transformative learning and teaching.
  • Ensure preservice teacher experiences with educational technology are program-deep and program-wide rather than one-off courses separate from methods courses.
  • Align efforts with research-based standards, frameworks, and credentials recognized across the field.

Institutions that take the pledge and commit to the four principles will be eligible to receive an invitation to an “Innovators’ Briefing” hosted by OET December 14 in Washington, DC. Complete the online challenge form by December 1 to be eligible to participate in the in-person event – however, OET challenge will continue beyond December 1.

To learn more, visit

#GoOpen Pushes State Leadership for Instructional Materials


Interested in OER policies ?
The DMAPS portal maps states with OER policies and each state profile includes details about instructional materials policies and practices.

State OER Adoption Policies
State  OER Definitions
State OER Vetting Practices

In October 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s, Office of Education Technology (OET) launched the #GoOpen Initiative via a White House briefing. Since that time, 18 states and 91 districts have signed on to #GoOpen. What does this mean? #GoOpen states and districts commit to supporting the transition to the use of high-quality, openly-licensed educational resources. More importantly, this initiative has impacted states beyond the consideration for Open Educational Resources (OER).

As states consider the option to #GoOpen, state teams including chief technology officers, digital learning and instructional materials leaders have been collaborating on how this commitment will impact their state. States that in the past had left all decisions to the local schools and districts without providing any instructional materials guidance or policies are now digging in to identify how they can better support their schools and districts to make quality choices for learning. More than ever, states have the opportunity to encourage the acquisition and implementation of digital instructional materials by providing guidance for schools and districts regarding best practices related to instructional materials adoption, professional learning for educators, and recommended vetting practices for any instructional materials regardless of delivery platform or licensing type. In addition, states have been working together to share best practices, examples, lessons learned and to support one another. “Here in Vermont, the #GoOpen commitment has sparked collaboration among districts and moved the state to take a leadership role in providing guidance and considerations for instructional materials,”  shared Peter Drescher, Education Technology Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Education.

Navigating the ShiftAs reported in SETDA’s 2015 Navigating the Digital Shift: Mapping the Acquisition of Digital Instructional Materials, seven states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) have statutes requiring the implementation of digital instructional materials in the next five years. As instructional materials transition to digital, states need to grow their leadership by providing guidance for districts on how to most effectively and efficiently make the transition to digital, by providing flexibility in their funding and procurement policies, including the implementation of OER.

Kudos to the Office of Educational Technology for pushing the enveloping on the option to leverage quality OER and more importantly for bringing the need for state leadership regarding digital instructional materials as a top priority. Happy Birthday #GoOpen!

SETDA OER Resources:

Copyright and Licensing
Open vs. Free

OER_stackedSETDA’s OER in Action: Implementation Highlights is a series of case studies published in 2015 that demonstrate how the policies and practices at the state level have provided the avenue for the implementation of OER in New York, Utah, and Washington.


PrintPolicy Briefs

SETDA launched a series of policy briefs focused on various topics to support state, districts and policy makers as they move from print to digital. These policy briefs were developed to assist states in identifying and implementing additional policies and practices for keeping the digital content transition on track and on target. Current briefs focus on the topics of:

Coming Soon:

SETDA in collaboration with state leaders is developing an online vetting toolkit to provide the details necessary to launch and maintain digital instructional material vetting processes either at the state, district, school or classroom level. This toolkit will be released in early 2017.

State Leaders Impacting Students' Lives – Teacher Appreciation Week

thank-a-teacherSETDA serves and supports state leaders from across the nation as well as territories from as far away as American Samoa, the Common Wealth of the Mariana Islands and Guam. Our members, state leaders, in turn support districts and schools in their state that in-turn support teachers and students directly. SETDA might appear to be the 5 degrees of separation from practitioners in the classroom, but always recognize their critical role in student achievement and success, and respect the importance of their work every day.SETDA maybe 5 degrees of separation from practitioners in the classroom however, our members always keep them at the forefront of their work. So often as we develop resources or plan for events, our members make comments such as “remember, it’s about the learning” or “how will that help improve instruction?” For SETDA, educational technology is not about the cool gadgets and devices, our work is about supporting leaders to impact the instructional practices so that learning is personalized, engaging and best preparing students for colleges and careers.

SETDA leaders from the public and private sector and our partners from a variety of national educational organizations will celebrate teachers next week. Members and partners, we thank YOU during Teacher Appreciation Week for your tireless efforts to close the achievement gap and the digital divide to help ensure that all students have the opportunity to equitable access to the digital tools necessary to support learning in the digital age.

Thank a teacher or education leader today. #thankateacher


Wow, What a Year! Top SETDA Resources 2015

As the year winds down, we reflect on our accomplishments from 2015. Needless to say, SETDA had a busy year! Through the continued leadership of the Board of Directors and the dedication of our members and staff, we’ve developed new reports, tools and publications to advance learning in the digital age. SETDA listened to the needs of our members and partners and focused efforts on developing resources around digital instructional materials, the implementation of digital learning, and equity of access. As we work together in our mission to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through policy and practice, we want to thank all of our wonderful SETDA members and partners for their knowledge and expertise. Keep reading to learn more about our 2015 resources and publications. We look forward to building on this work and new projects in 2016! To stay up to date on SETDA’s latest work subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter @setda.

Navigating the ShiftNavigating The Digital Shift: Mapping The Acquisition of Digital Instructional Materials. This landmark report identifies policies and practices related to the implementation of digital instructional materials. The details included can help educate school and district administrators, policy makers and the private sector on the flexibility of state policies related to the procurement of digital instructional materials.

OER Case Studies. This online series of open educational resources (OER) case studies website supports SETDA’s work focused on digital instructional materials and offers a deep look into how these materials are implemented in a variety of educational settings.

DMAPSDigital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). A unique online portal, the DMAPs is an online database providing state and territory policies and practices related to the acquisition of digital instructional materials in K-12 education. There is an interactive heat map so that users can view national trends as well as individual state profiles and exemplars.

Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning. This paper, published with Foresight Law and Policy, complements SETDA’s prior digital transition policy briefs by examining strategies for ensuring digital content quality.

E_rate_modernizationE-rate Modernization Resources. SETDA and Common Sense Kids Action developed a toolkit for state and local policymakers and digital leaders as they navigate the modernized E-rate program.

State Digital Learning Exemplars. SETDA and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation co-released this national report highlighting states with policies in support of 5 key areas: innovative funding streams and policy, digital content, human capacity, network infrastructure, and data management and privacy.  

Building Your Roadmap For 21st Century Learning Environments. SETDA collaborated with Cable Impacts and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning to create a free planning tool for schools and educators shifting to 21st learning environments.


EdTech Update This site and newsletter brings together the widest set of industry thought leaders and uses what the audience does with the content both collectively and individually to deliver the most interesting and relevant content to each reader. The Update condenses the latest and best thinking from hundreds of sources, including top bloggers.

The Guide to Implementing Digital Learning (GIDL) is a free web-based resource designed to support school and district leaders as they work to ensure that investments in digital learning spark positive results.

OER Implementation Sparks National Interest


“The Utah State Office of Education is proud to be a state leader in supporting OER for our schools and districts. OER materials provide our teachers with the ability to customize content for the specific needs of their classes. The use of OER encourages collaboration among educators and is often more cost effective than traditional textbooks.”  Brad C. Smith, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Utah

Open Educational Resources (OER) support has gained national attention recently, including U.S. Department of Education’s Secretary Duncan’s trip yesterday to Williamsfield Community Unified School District in Illinois to share progress on their shift to digital and open educational resources (OER). The district is implementing OER content from EngageNY and purchased devices for students with the savings from instructional materials. In addition, Secretary Duncan announced that Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) as the first “Advisor for Open Education.”

SETDA applauds ED’s support for advancing OER. SETDA has a track record of advocating for OER including developing resources and collaborating with others in support of OER. SETDA is a supporting partner of the K12 OER Collaborative and in August, joined over 100 other organizations signing a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are openly licensed and released to the public as OER. SETDA has published multiple policy briefs in support of OER and most recently published the OER in Action Case Studies. The Case Studies highlight the importance of state leadership in the shift to implementing OER and include details about implementation.

Trends toward implementing OER are increasing as educators leverage the ability to personalize learning for students. “I don’t feel trapped by the textbook. Instead, as a teacher, I can create the digital curriculum in the way the works best for my students,” states Tracy Poulsen, Nebo School District, Utah.

Want to learn more? Visit SETDA’s OER Case Studies for multiple resources and details on OER definitions, development, vetting and implementation.

Roadmap Supports building Digital Learning Environments



Cable Impacts, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and SETDA collaborated to develop the Building Your Roadmap to 21st Century Learning Environments,

The Roadmap is a resource created specifically for school leaders, designed to them help craft a holistic strategy to create 21st century learning environments – classrooms where, in addition to traditional subjects like math, English and science, crucial skills like critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration are practiced, where learning is personalized, adaptive and even self-directed, and where students are ultimately equipped with skills needed for college, careers and life-long learning. The Roadmap consists of a website that provides school leaders with a framework for developing their own strategic plans, a report written by Dr. James Marshall of San Diego State University that takes a deeper dive into the details and research, and an infographic that visualizes the planning process.

The Roadmap is built around a deep dive into five interconnected topic areas: Learning, Teaching & Professional Learning, Assessment & Accountability, Leadership & Culture, and Infrastructure. In each topic, three stages of change are explored, guiding principles established, key questions asked, policies considered, exemplars researched and action steps agreed on.


The primary audience for the Roadmap project is the senior leadership at districts for whom the Roadmap can provide

  • guidance to help structure strategic planning;
  • research, data and best practice examples to inform the resulting plan; and
  • third-party affirmation for what they’re doing.

Leaders can use parts of the project deliverables with policymakers, parents and the press to help them grasp where the district is doing well and where help may be needed, to illustrate the holistic nature of this kind of systemic change, and to highlight the need for adequate time and resources to support change. Take a few moments to review this resource and share the links with your colleagues.


Looking for the Best Sources of Content for Ed Tech ?

Ed Tech Update has the answer…

ETU_logoSETDA is excited to share Ed Tech Update. This site and newsletter brings together the largest set of industry thought leaders writing about educational technology to support ed tech professionals.

Keeping up with experts publishing content all over the web is a challenge; it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the sources. And, even if you were able to identify and subscribe to them all, you’d have to wade through a ton of content every day to figure out what is the best and most relevant content for you.

Ed Tech Update pulls that rabbit out of the hat by…

  • Pulling together content from the WIDEST set of the most relevant sources;
  • Personalizing the content, once registered you see by using your LinkedIn profile, what you share on Twitter, what you click on either on the site or the newsletter, and what topics you tell it are the most relevant based on your interests;
  • Reviewing what Ed Tech professionals are reading, sharing, saving, etc. to figure out what is the most relevant, at that and every moment and highlights those sources;
  • Delivering great content through a personalized newsletter and on a site where thousands of articles are archived and easy to search.

The more you read and share, the better Ed Tech Update gets at delivering you EXACTLY the information that’s most important for you. The top leaders in the field give you their thoughts, insights and information on what is going on in the world of educational technology.

Sound a bit like MAGIC? The technical person behind Ed Tech Update was the original CTO for eHarmony.

Click here to see today’s hottest stories in the world of Ed Tech and to register for customized content.

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