“Alabama is honored to be featured in SETDA’s Digital Learning Exemplars paper as helping to lead the way in digital transformation.” Dr. Tommy Bice, Alabama State Superintendent of Education.
“This paper provides collaborative expertise and shared state examples that will benefit educators throughout the state.” Glenda Ritz, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Indiana Department of Education
State Digital Learning Exemplars
Highlights from states leading change through policies and funding
SETDA and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University College of Education co-released the national report, State Digital Learning Exemplars: Highlights from states leading change through policies and funding. States are striving to support the expansion of technology tools and resources in K12 education through state policies, programs and funding in order to provide digital learning opportunities for all students. This paper highlights examples of 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. While there has been progress toward digital learning nationwide, several states have emerged as leaders in embracing digital learning via state policies and practices in all five areas mentioned above: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Utah. This report also highlights other states with significant progress in at least one of the specific five areas.
Some critical areas for consideration that emerged include:
- State Investment in funding and policy: States leading in digital learning have stable funding streams which sustainably fund digital learning statewide. However, many also have other, more flexible streams of money available to districts ready for innovation. These more flexible funds often provide policy flexibility to support the innovation.
- Digital Content: Leaders in digital content have allowed for flexibility in terms of what “content” means. Policies permit districts to purchase various types of digital content and have in place high-quality, vetted repositories to share OER and other digital content with all teachers. Digital learning has evolved to include more dynamic resources that allow students to both consume material and to produce.
- Development of Human Capacity: Professional learning for leaders at the state, district, school, and classroom level is imperative for the transition to digital-age learning. States who are successfully building capacity are doing so through innovative programs that establish partnerships and build on local expertise. Further, these leaders are building buy-in by creating a shared vision which drives all learning.
- Systemic Approach to Networks and Infrastructure: Network infrastructure is necessary but not sufficient to digital learning. State leaders must think strategically about how to maximize resources to provide equitable access to devices and to ensure adequate infrastructure for digital learning. They must also plan to ensure that the technology supports excellent teaching practices.
- Student Data and Privacy: Some critical areas for consideration that emerge include: • State Investment in funding and policy: States leading in digital learning have stable funding streams which sustainably fund digital learning statewide. However, many also have other, more flexible streams of money available to districts ready for innovation. These more flexible funds often provide policy flexibility to support the innovation.
Leadership at the state level is paramount. Without strong leaders crafting a vision, which includes all five focus areas described in this report, statewide progress toward digital learning is difficult. As policymakers consider investments in technological tools and resources, they should also consider their broader vision for digital learning for their students.