Elements of Digital Learning

Earlier this week, the West Virginia State Senate passed legislation to establish digital learning in the state’s public school system.

The legislation, WV Senate Bill 516, requires the State Board of Education to promulgate a new rule establishing a digital learning program that would encompass the “10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning” modeled on the work of the Digital Learning Council (DLC), which is cochaired by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise.

10 ELEMENTS OF HIGH QUALITY DIGITAL LEARNING

1. Student Eligibility: All students are digital learners.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State ensures access to high quality digital content and online courses to all students.
• State ensures access to high quality digital content and online courses to students in K-12 at any time in their academic career.

2. Student Access: All students have access to high quality digital content and online courses.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State does not restrict access to high quality digital content and online courses with policies such as class size ratios and caps on enrollment or budget.
• State does not restrict access to high quality digital content and online courses based on geography, such as school district, county, or state.
• State requires students take high quality online college-or career-prep courses to earn a high school diploma.

3. Personalized Learning: All students can customize their education using digital content through an approved provider.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State allows students to take online classes full-time, part-time or by individual course.
• State allows students to enroll with multiple providers and blend online courses with onsite learning.
• State allows rolling enrollment year round.
• State does not limit the number credits earned online.
• State does not limit provider options for delivering instruction.

4. Advancement: Students progress based on demonstrated competency.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State requires matriculation based on demonstrated competency.
• State does not have a seat-time requirement for matriculation.
• State provides assessments when students are ready to complete the course or unit.

5. Content: Digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State requires digital content and online and blended learning courses to be aligned with state standards or common core standards where applicable.

6. Instruction: Digital instruction and teachers are high quality.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State provides alternative certification routes, including online instruction and performance-based certification.
• State provides certification reciprocity for online instructors certified by another state.
• State creates the opportunity for multi-location instruction.
• State encourages post-secondary institutions with teacher preparation programs to offer targeted digital instruction training.
• State ensures that teachers have professional development or training to better utilize technology and before teaching an online or blended learning course.

7. Providers: All students have access to multiple high quality providers.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State has an open, transparent, expeditious approval process for digital learning providers.
• State provides students with access to multiple approved providers including public, private and nonprofit.
• States treat all approved education providers- public, chartered and private – equally.
• State provides all students with access to all approved providers.
• State has no administrative requirements that would unnecessarily limit participation of high quality providers (e.g. office location).
• State provides easy-to-understand information about digital learning, including programs, content, courses, tutors, and other digital resources, to students.

8. Assessment and Accountability: Student learning is the metric for evaluating the quality of content and instruction.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State administers assessments digitally.
• State ensures a digital formative assessment system.
• State evaluates the quality of content and courses predominately based on student learning data.
• State evaluates the effectiveness of teachers based, in part, on student learning data.
• State holds schools and providers accountable for achievement and growth.

9. Funding: Funding creates incentives for performance, options and innovation.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State funding model pays providers in installments that incentivize completion and achievement.
• State allows for digital content to be acquired through instructional material budgets and does not discourage digital content with print adoption practices.
• State funding allows customization of education including choice of providers.

10. Delivery: Infrastructure supports digital learning.
Actions for lawmakers and policymakers:
• State is replacing textbooks with digital content, including interactive and adaptive multimedia.
• State ensures high-speed broadband Internet access for public school teachers and students.
• State ensures all public school students and teachers have Internet access devices.
• State uses purchasing power to negotiate lower cost licenses and contracts for digital content and online courses.
• State ensures local and state data systems and related applications are updated and robust to inform longitudinal management decisions, accountability and instruction.

Read the full report here.

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