Preliminary Recommendations to Inform State Policy Decisions


The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University is developing the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan to accelerate the State’s progress in providing the personalized, digital-age education that K-12 students need to be successful in college, in careers, and as engaged citizens. The first North Carolina Digital Learning Plan Policy Brief from June 2014 summarizes the key elements of digital-age learning and describes the scope of the Plan:

The transition to a digital-age education system that fully harnesses the power of modern technologies will impact all aspects of education, including the content students learn, the methods teachers use, where and when learning takes place, what resources are required, and how success is defined and measured.

The recommendations provided in this Brief are intended to inform near-term actions by State policymakers to jump-start the statewide transition to digital learning, including recommendations for funding considerations during the 2015 legislative session. The recommendations are ambitious, aiming to quickly build the statewide technology infrastructure, exemplary implementation models, leadership capacity, and support structures necessary for a successful transition to digital learning in all K-12 public schools throughout the State. The recommendations build upon analyses of relevant data and input from many stakeholders, including deep-dive visits to selected districts to gather information about their current status, goals, assets, and needs related to digital learning. The preliminary recommendations are informed by the following initial findings from our work:

  1. Digital learning innovations are driven at the district level and will take different forms and proceed at different paces across districts. Different districts will need varying levels of guidance and support provided by State and regional organizations.
  2. The roles of the State are to:
    • provide statewide infrastructure and resources;
    • leverage federal funding and economies of scale through statewide procurement;
    • provide models, guidance, and capacity-building programs to districts and regional support organizations; and
    • ensure equity of digital learning opportunities for all students.
  3. Investments in infrastructure, digital content, and educator capacity development will be required. These will yield long-term returns on investments in terms of educational outcomes, increased graduation rates, and college and career readiness.

Future deliverables, including the Feasibility Study and Assessment Report and the final Digital Learning Plan, will contain additional legislative, policy, and programmatic recommendations through FY 2020, with detailed plans for the technology infrastructure, educator capacity, digital content, and support structures required for long-term success.

The recommendations are organized into categories that reflect components of the emerging Digital Learning Plan:
Technology Infrastructure; Model Digital Learning Innovations; Local Educator Leadership Capacity; High-Quality Digital Education Resources; Regional and State Support Structures;

The recommendations are described briefly below and summarized in a final table. The Friday Institute is prepared to provide more details and to discuss modifications for each recommendation to help inform policy and funding decisions.

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