Technology is an essential component of learning today. With digital applications, tools and resources, students can create content, interact with experts, collaborate with peers and participate in simulation activities. Personalized learning experiences put students at the center of learning and empower students to take control of their own learning through flexibility and choice. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) acknowledges technology’s role in transforming learning and includes definitions for digital learning and blended learning, and references technology throughout the legislation. In the Non-Regulatory Guidance Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants publication provides an overview of activities LEAs may consider as they prepare for implementation of the effective use of technology (ESEA Section 4109). Specific activities include: supporting high-quality professional development for educators, school leaders, and administrators to personalize learning and improve academic achievement; building technological capacity and infrastructure; carrying out innovative blended learning projects; providing students in rural, remote, and underserved areas with the resources to benefit from high-quality digital learning opportunities; and delivering specialized or rigorous academic courses and curricula using technology, including digital learning technologies. Similarly, the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) calls for a “revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering” in education and recognizes that we must leverage technology to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences for all students. Technology offers all students – urban, rural, low-income, ESL, special needs, high achieving – the opportunity to engage in dynamic learning activities. Education leaders at the federal, state, and local level have the opportunity to provide leadership to ensure that all students have personalized, engaging learning experiences.
- Policies: In every state that has made a big push for the use of digital content in schools, legislators updated how their states legally define “textbook” and “instructional materials”
- Leadership: State and local leadership buy-in. The most critical part of a successful digital learning transformation state and local leadership buy-in. Leaders can communicate the vision to multiple stakeholders and ensure the appropriate resources are in place to carry it out.
- Sustainable Funding: States and districts need to ensure sustainable funding for devices, infrastructure and digital instructional materials and resources.