By Kurt Kiefer, Assistant State Superintendent for Libraries and Technology

According to the International Society for Technology in Education, “Today’s educators must provide a learning environment that takes students beyond the walls of their classrooms and into a world of endless opportunities... ensuring that digital-age students are empowered to learn, live and work successfully today and tomorrow.”

It is becoming increasingly apparent that learning is not limited to the physical space we have known for so long as “school.”  Learning exists everywhere and can occur at anytime with the continued proliferation of content via the Internet, as well as widespread use of mobile and more powerful computing devices.  It is essential that schools and educators adapt to this change. Teachers are essential to the learning process and need preparation in digital instruction. Now more than ever, technology allows them to become the “guide on the side,” replacing the role of “sage on the stage.”

As schools are changed by technology so are other aspects of our lives including the workplace. More and more, work involves using technology and creating digital content. STEM related occupations are some of the fastest growing fields in the American economy. Other nations recognize this and have begun to change accordingly. Our nation must as well. An instructional focus on core skills such as problem solving, collaboration, innovation, and creativity are what will allow our students and businesses to thrive in the globally competitive, technically advanced workplace of the 21st century.

It is critical that we have a road map to navigate these changes. They are complex. We must work on behalf of every school, student, educator, and parent to help determine the most effective paths to success. We have no time to lose, nor do our students, making it imperative that we collaborate and share our lessons learned. Connecting to either avoid mistakes or to create efficiencies by avoiding re-work are both victories. This plan lays out several strategies that explicitly focus on collaboration and partnerships, which are key ingredients to success.

One final note to our readers:  just as technology is constantly evolving so is this road map. The Digital Learning Advisory Council is an on-going collaboration of partners whose work will focus not only on facilitating the implementation of the Plan’s recommendations, but also serving as a source for the ever-changing issues on the digital learning landscape. Come back to our “document” often. We welcome any ideas that can improve its quality, timeliness and utility.