Posts Tagged ‘digital learning’

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.


Alabama Partners with NASA and ASTA to Support New Online Science Resources

Another in an occasional series of guest posts, we are pleased to feature the work and voices of state leaders. Richard O. Murphy, Ed.D. is the State Administrator of Alabama’s ALEX Web Portal for the Alabama Department of Education.

ALEXThe Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX), a project of the Alabama Department of Education, is designed to index and share many types of educational materials and information through a time-saving, one-stop resource for educators, parents, and students. ALEX resources are free and open to the public. The majority of these rich resources (lesson plans, Web links, and interactive activities) are located and connected to the Alabama Courses of Study by National Board Certified Teachers. ALEX has partnered with NASA and the Alabama Science Teacher’s Association (ASTA) to create lesson plans for the new Alabama science standards. Although many have already been added to the ALEX database, it is expected that over 200 plans will be approved by August 2016 to support teachers in implementing the new Alabama Science Course of Study, supplemented by the Alabama College- and Career-Ready standards.

nasa_2016During the months of January through March, NASA’s EPD Specialist, John F. Weis hosted the NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project for nearly 100 science teachers from across Alabama at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Four sessions including about 25 teachers each were facilitated according to grade range including K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Teachers were immersed in a plethora of free NASA resources that included engaging, inquiry-based learning activities and materials for classroom use, and are expected to redeliver that training in their own schools. Of the event, Mr. Weis said, “These teachers have done a phenomenal job taking existing NASA resources and embedding them directly into ALEX lesson plans to support the new Alabama standards for science. We have enjoyed working with them and look forward to continuing to support the turn-around trainings that they will conduct in their regions.” In addition to taking the training back to their schools, teachers were expected to submit lessons with NASA-embedded resources to the ALEX website. Over 40 lessons have been submitted, and more than 30 have been approved for viewing. Click here to view approved NASA/ALEX plans.

In addition, the ALEX Team planned events in partnership with ASTA, involving nearly 50 Alabama science teachers from all grade levels. ASTA’s involvement in the success of the lesson plan summits has been crucial. ALEX leaders asked ASTA to select participants based upon science teachers’ application submissions, and they did not disappoint. The lesson plan quality is outstanding, and should be of great benefit to science teachers at all experience levels. The first summit resulted in nearly 70 lesson plan submissions, all of which go through a rigorous review process before being approved for viewing on the ALEX website. The second summit will occur in June, where it is expected that a similar number of plans will be submitted. Click here to view approved ASTA/ALEX plans.

MurphyDr. Richard Murphy started his career as an educator in grades 7-12, teaching language arts and computer applications for fifteen years. He concurrently did contract work for businesses, universities, and the Alabama Department of Education including tasks such as curriculum development, instructional design, database design, web design, graphics design, video production, and training. Dr. Murphy currently works full time for the Alabama Department of Education and serves as the state administrator for the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) web portal.

Massachusetts Rethinks Ed Tech by Reinventing State-Local Partnerships

Another in an occasional series of guest posts, we are pleased to feature the work and voices of state leaders. Kenneth Klau is the Director of the Office of Digital Learning for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant Video

Started in 2014, the Digital Connections Partnership Schools (DCPS) grant program is a competitive, matching state grant program to bridge the digital divide that exists in some public schools across Massachusetts and strengthen twenty-first century teaching and learning. This article highlights the theme of partnership, a facet of the DCPS initiative that sets it apart from many other grants of this type. Specifically, this post will address state-local partnership in the areas of funding, procurement and program development.

In the DCPS program, the state partners with each community to provide financial support based on local resources and needs. The state match percentage is calculated on a sliding scale from 30 to 70 percent based on each community’s ability to contribute to the state’s per pupil spending formula. Districts with more resources pay a higher share, those with fewer resources pay less.

In the DCPS program, the state partners with the local communities in overseeing the bidding and vendor selection process for technology infrastructure. The state acts as a single purchasing agent, fronts the cost of all wi-fi and broadband projects, and expedites the flow of federal E-rate reimbursements back to districts (communities have the option of using these reimbursements to help fund the local match). This alleviates administration and local burden at the local level and lets educators focus on program development.

Program Development
In the DCPS program, the state match pays for products and services that are eligible for E-rate “Category 2” reimbursements and provides professional learning across districts in order to facilitate cross-district professional development networks. The local match pays for devices, assistive technologies and additional professional development. Each district must define the problem that a shift toward increased digital learning might solve, and demonstrate that it has related plans for technical support, human capital development and sustainability. Districts have the leeway to identify the resources they need to achieve those ends, and the state facilitates professional learning opportunities for the grantees beyond the funding period, ensuring good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

In authentic partnerships, the parties work together to create something new. In effective partnerships, the parties assume both responsibility and accountability for doing what they do best, so that the end product has the highest likelihood for success. The DCPS initiative is still new, but we are hopeful that it can serve as a model for rethinking educational technology at the same time it reinvents state-local partnerships.

Stay posted on Massachusetts’ schools by following @MASchoolsK12 on Twitter.

KlauKenKenneth Klau is the Director of Digital Learning for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Ken is responsible for developing a strategy for rethinking the structure and delivery of learning, building a more student-centered system of public education, and creating the next generation of K–12 learning environments. He brings more than a decade of experience at the state level in accountability system design and instructional improvement at scale. Prior to coming to the department, Ken worked in the private sector as director of operations for a start-up educational publishing company and served as manager of curriculum development for a comprehensive educational reform organization that served predominantly urban elementary and middle school students in ten states. 

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.

Shifting to digital – what is the story ?


Since SETDA’s seminal 2012 resource, Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in the Digital Age, traditionalists take comfort in the fact that in spite of proliferation of digital content and open educational resources, plus national and state groups supporting digital learning, these digital tools are still very, very slowly making their way into the classroom. Just why is this happening at such a slow pace? Well for one thing, the tradition of using hard copy textbooks is a contributing factor. Bound texts that align content to meet state standards are assumed to suffice. Next, the elements to support the transition to digital learning, including bandwidth, devices and teacher training can be barriers as schools and districts need time to transition budgets and to build the infrastructure to support digital learning. Lastly, the pressure on teachers to meet accreditation standards, as well as for students to meet learning standards, is another issue that does not foster an environment that encourages taking a chance on change.


SETDA believes that several key factors can be put in place to help increase the use of digital resources in the classroom. States should create and foster policies and procedures that are friendly to the identification, acquisition and use of these resources. In a 2015 survey, SETDA found that about 50% of states have put in place policies that offer flexibility for use, funding and acquisition of digital content.

In an effort to support the understanding of state policies and practices related to digital instructional materials, SETDA launched the Digital Instructional Materials Acquisitions for States (DMAPS) portal, a free online tool for educators, policy makers and the private sector. Site users will benefit from organized and accessible information regarding acquisition of digital instructional materials, including information about state guidance and policies, procurement, funding and digital learning resources for all 50 states, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands. SETDA hopes that as leaders consider updating or crafting new polices that they use the DMAPS tool to leverage the examples of policies and acquisition procedures that other states have put in place to support digital learning to best meet the individual needs of students. Site highlights include: a snapshot overview of policies/practices for each state, the ability to identify state trends and to compare states plus district exemplars. A national report, which complements this work and identifies national trends, will be released on October 26, 2015 at SETDA’s annual, invitation only Leadership Summit.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 1.14.51 PMThe DMAPS tool is one important step in making it easier for state leaders to show the way forward and recognize the importance of digital resources to student learning. Would calling it a “catalyst” be too strong? I think not. Stay tuned.

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