In just under a week, we will celebrate the 2nd annual Digital Learning Day. As we prepare for another round of events and conversation focused on the power of digital learning, I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to look back at the policy momentum since last year’s celebration. I was quite impressed with what I found. Digital learning is clearly on the minds of state legislators, governors, boards of education, and even the federal government.
Take a look at my list of the ten most impactful policy changes for digital learning in 2012 – listed in chronological order to be fair.
- Washington HB2337 – Requires the superintendent of public instruction to help the 295 K-12 school districts identify and adopt open educational resources aligned with state and common core curricular standards. The bill also requires the superintendent of public instruction to “provide professional development programs that offer support, guidance, and instruction regarding the creation, use, and continuous improvement of open courseware.” (3/29/2012)
- Florida CS/CS/HB 7063 – Permits elementary students to access courses part-time through the Florida Virtual School and links funding for both online and brick-and-mortar students to end-of-course exams beginning in 2013-2014. (4/27/2012)
- Georgia SB289 – Permits all students in grades 9-12 to enroll in online courses through the Georgia Virtual School without the approval of the student’s home district. All districts must provide both part-and-full-time online learning options to all students in grades 3-12. All providers must be approved by the State Department of Education, have a demonstrated record of success in virtual education, a quality curriculum, and a performance accountability plan. (5/1/2012).
- Maryland HB745 – Established the Maryland Advisory Council for Virtual Learning which will submit recommendations to the state superintendent on digital learning issues such as teacher professional development for virtual or blended teaching environments, assessment and accountability, resources for digital learning, coordination of digital learning programs, and implementation plans for providing digital learning opportunities to all students. (5/2/2012)
- Minnesota SF1528 – Requires all pre-service and in-service preparation programs must prepare teachers with the knowledge and skills to deliver digital and blended learning curriculum and to engage students with technology. (5/7/2012)
- Michigan SB619 – Increased the cap on the number of cyber schools from 2 to 15 by 2014 while capping total enrollment for each school at 2,500 during the first year of operation, 5,000 in the second, and 10,000 in subsequent years. Ensures that every student enrolled in one of these schools receives a computer, Internet service subsidy, and parent orientation. (5/15/2012)
- Iowa SF2284 – Established the Competency Based Education Taskforce charged with studying and recommending strategies for redefining the Carnegie unit into competencies, constructing personal learning plans and templates, developing student-centered accountability and assessment models, empowering learning through technology, and developing supports and professional development for educators to transition to a competency-based system. The law also codifies Iowa’s virtual school, Iowa Learning Online (ILO), as the only provider districts may contract with to fulfill its course requirements. (5/25/2012)
- Ohio SB316 – Implements the recommendations of Ohio’s Digital Learning Task Force which formed in 2011 to help the state transition to digital learning. The law permits school districts to convert existing schools to a blended learning model and requires the state board to ensure districts include standards for the operation of blended learning including revised teacher ratios, the provision of digital learning tools, student ability to progress upon demonstration of mastery, exemption from minimum school day/year requirements, and adequate provisions for staff. (6/25/12)
- U.S. Department of Education District Race to the Top – The U.S. Department of Education announced nearly $400 million in grants for school districts to create plans for personalized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing students for college and career. With an absolute priority for personalized learning, winning applicants are beginning to implement strategies that take classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all model. (8/16/2012)
- California A.B.644 – Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, any student participating in an online program under the supervision of a district employee shall be included in the average daily attendance calculation for a district. Ensures that all students enrolled in online learning receive access to the computer hardware and software necessary to complete the course. (9/26/2012).
Not a bad track record for one year’s work. Perhaps I will reprise this task next year when the competition will surely be stiff and the possibilities endless.
Lillian Pace is the Senior Director of National Policy with KnowledgeWorks.