Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today released the final report of recommendations from his Digital Learning Task Force. Formed by Deal in April 2012, the task force developed a cohesive strategy to improve student achievement through digital learning implementation across the state.
“Georgia students need 21st-century skills to succeed in our economy, and digital learning can help provide those skills,” Deal said. “The task force recommendations provide a strong framework for digital learning that will increase student achievement and broaden choices for Georgia students and parents.”
The recommendations include increasing broadband access to all Georgia schools, encouraging the transition from textbooks to digital content, aligning all course options to ensure students and parents have clear information about what course choices are available to them, and funding pilot blended learning projects through the Innovation Fund, which is housed at the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.
Also, the task force recommends the state create a funding mechanism and assessment system that provides the flexibility required for students to progress through courses when they master standards, rather than all at the same pace.
“The Digital Learning Task Force has provided a roadmap for strengthening the educational opportunities for Georgia students,” said John Bailey, executive director of Digital Learning Now! “The Task Force challenges the state to fully embrace competency-based education and blended learning models.”
The governor’s office now will review the recommendations with key stakeholders to determine next steps.
The recommendations include:
- Increase statewide broadband capacity to schools, ensuring Georgia’s schools are able to use 21st-century technology in classrooms.
- Increase districts’ ability to expand wireless connectivity and device availability within schools, allowing them to fully leverage increased broadband capacity.
- Increase availability of wireless connectivity in communities, allowing students to access learning resources outside of school.
- Support the transition to and acquisition of digital resources at the state, system, school and classroom level.
- Remove barriers to online learning.
- Develop a broad-base communications strategy around the importance and effective use of digital learning.
- Provide blended and competency-based learning opportunities, so PK-12 and postsecondary students are able to broaden, accelerate or otherwise pace their learning appropriately and ensure mastery before progressing.
- Invest in assessments that drive higher expectations for demonstrated proficiency in academic content, application, analysis and evaluation on summative and formative assessments at both the state and local levels. Plan to provide adequate funding to support the development and subsequent administration of these assessments.
- Review and align into a single document, policy or law all dual enrollment and competency-based options already available in Georgia, so the options are more easily understood by students and parents.
- Design a funding mechanism that provides flexibility to foster blended and competency-based learning while balancing the operational needs of districts.
- Find ways to incentivize the blended learning and competency-based courses, programs and opportunities that expand and extend learning opportunities for students.
- To promote 21st-century learning, schools and districts must consider how traditional classroom structures and furniture inhibit teachers from the differentiation needed for effective blended learning. Everything in a learning space should have purposeful thought that promotes learning.