North Carolina Digital Learning Plan
Last Updated: 8-15-18
The North Carolina Digital Learning Plan has been developed to provide recommendations for state actions that will support K-12 schools as they become digital age learning organizations. It was prepared for the North Carolina State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University, working in collaboration with educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders across the state.
The Digital Learning Progress Rubric serves as a roadmap to support North Carolina’s educators and communities in the transition to digital-age teaching and learning. It is designed to help district or charter teams reflect on their current stage of development in digital learning and track their progress moving forward.
Technology Infrastructure and Devices
An effective digital learning transition requires that students and teachers in every school have ready access to the technology required for digital teaching and learning. While North Carolina has made great progress in providing broadband access to all schools, further work is needed to provide Wi-Fi networks within schools and connected devices for all students and teachers.
- All schools have sufficient network capacity to fully support digital learning in all classrooms and workspaces by 2018. Sustainable funding and processes are available to maintain well-functioning networks in all schools thereafter.
- Ongoing increases are found in (a) teachers’ and students’ ratings about their access to technologies, and (b) the number of schools that provide devices to every student.
- Cost savings are obtained through economies of scale purchasing for both equipment and digital content.
- All Districts are able to address community and home access to ensure digital resources are available to all students.
- MCS Technology Department maintains a fiber ring network connecting all schools and other buildings together.
- Aerohive Access Points are installed in all classrooms. At a minimum, each classroom is capable of 5 GHz Wireless N.
- Students in grades 9-12 are provided a district-owned Chromebook that is allowed to be taken home. Students also receive a Brenthaven Tred backpack.
- Students in grades 6-8 are provided a district-owned Chromebook that will be taken home starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
- Students in grades K-5 use a mixture of PC's, iPads, and Chromebooks. Many Elementary Schools are 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 3 and above.
- All MCS classrooms are typically equipped with a desktop PC, Projector or large TV, and a document camera.
- Most teachers also have a second wireless device, this may be an iPad or Chromebook.
- Content filtering is done by Lightspeed Systems.
- The MCS Internet connection was upgraded to 2 Gbps in the summer of 2017.
- MHS, EMMS, FCS, and WMMS networks were upgraded to gigabit speed during summer of 2017.
- All Elementary Schools networks were upgraded to gigabit speed during summer of 2018.
- Use Erate and state connectivity funds to upgrade all classroom access points to be capable of wireless AC speeds. This would be at no cost to the district.
- MHS access points upgraded during the 2015-2016 school year.
- Middle school access points funding was applied for during the 2015-2016 school year and is fully funded. The equipment has been delivered and installed in summer 2017.
- Elementary funding will be applied for during the 2016-2017 school year and has been fully funded. The equipment has been delivered and installed in the 2017-2018 school year.
- Use Erate and state connectivity funds to upgrade all classroom switches to gigabit switches.
- Middle and High School funding was applied for during the 2015-2016 school year and is fully funded. The equipment has been delivered and installed in summer 2017.
- Elementary funding will be applied for during the 2016-2017 school year and has been fully funded. The equipment has been delivered and installed in summer 2018.
- Expand wireless connectivity beyond the classroom and improve digital equity in McDowell. This includes adding wifi to the exterior of the schools, creating a directory of wifi hotspots in the region, and exploring possibilities of adding wifi to longest bus routes.
- Purchase Chromebooks for Elementary schools to be 1:1 in grades 3 and above.
The digital learning transition requires that teachers and administrators are able to take full advantage of modern technologies. Statewide data show that much remains to be done; in only six districts did more than 40% of the teachers rate themselves as having sufficient training to fully utilize instructional technology. On another survey, only 13 districts rated their leadership for digital learning to be at the advanced level.
- All teachers and administrators demonstrate understanding and application of the digital learning competencies.
- All teachers and students report effective leadership and support for digital learning in their districts and schools.
- All teachers report that they are prepared to effectively use digital learning to increase their students’ engagement and achievement. All students report that their teachers use technology effectively to enhance learning.
- Superintendents, principals, experienced teachers and students report that new teachers and administrators are well prepared for their roles as digital-age educators.
- Developed local guidelines for professional development based on Learning Forward Standards for Professional Development
- Adventure PD by Adam Wiseman. Launched Fall 2016.
- Implemented Digital Learning Competencies.
- Develop high-quality professional development that can be delivered face-to-face and online.
- Implement a professional development badging system to encourage teacher leadership.
- To have over 50% of teachers and 100% of Instructional Technology Facilitators earn Google Certified Educator credentials.
- To be the first district in North Carolina to employ multiple Google Certified Innovators.
- Increase engagement with stakeholders
- Increase parents using PowerSchool App, Canvas Parent App, Google Classroom
- Increase teachers using apps like Classdojo and Remind.
Content, Instruction, and Assessment
Digital learning requires very different tools and resources than traditional learning. Curriculum resources are no longer static pages, but instead provide interactive, multimedia learning experiences, with embedded assessments of progress and personalized paths to learning. While there has been some progress statewide, most districts rate themselves at the early or early developing stage of progress in the use of digital content and instruction. While, on average, districts rated themselves as more advanced on their use of data and assessment, most see the need for further progress in those areas as well.
- High-quality, personalized, interactive digital learning resources are available to all students. Effective systems are in place for teachers to select, create, organize, share, review, and use digital learning resources and curricula.
- The cost of educational resources is reduced while maintaining quality and alignment with the North Carolina curriculum standards.
- All teachers use assessment data that enables them to personalize instruction and increase student achievement.
- Home Base use increases significantly. Teachers, students, and parents rate highly the value of Home Base.
- All staff and all students (k-12) have a G Suite (Formerly Google Apps for Education) Account.
- All teachers and all students have access to Discovery Education.
- MCS has adopted Google Classroom and Canvas as our Learning Management Systems.
- Students will have daily opportunities to participate in differentiated digital learning activities.
- Adopt high-quality digital content that is available to students 24 hours a day.
- Adopt high-quality digital resources that students can use to be content creators. Available 24 hours a day.
- Prepare all students using a new paradigm of “basic skills” in the technological age.
- Coding: Expose all K-5 students through code.org courses via technology assistants and integration into classroom lessons. Offer coding courses through the Career and Technical Education Department at Middle School and High School.
- Internet safety and digital citizenship
- Video production
- Productivity software
- Increase the usage of SchoolNet resources.
Funding and Policy
The transition to digital learning requires updating legislation and policies to foster educational innovations, restructuring budgets for sustainable initiatives, and ensuring that all students have access to digital-age learning opportunities. North Carolina has already made important progress – for example Session Law 2013-12 (transition from funding textbooks to funding digital materials) and Session Law 2013-11 (develop and implement digital teaching and learning standards for teachers and school leaders) – but further work is needed.
- School and district leaders report that State legislation and policies support innovation and that barriers have been removed. North Carolina is frequently cited as a national leader in digital learning innovations.
- Schools have minimal problems with the misuse of digital technologies; structures and systems are in place to effectively address any issues that do occur.
- Sustainable funding exists and allows for long-term planning.
- Access to digital learning is addressed as part of the State’s responsibility to provide a sound basic education to all students.
- Increasing the purchasing of Chromebooks at the Elementary level with the goal of being 1:1 in grades 3 and above.