A school- or district-wide digital learning strategy provides a paddle to help steer your organization toward its learning and teaching goals. It's the shared vision educators rally around to guide effective technology implementation.
"Our goal was to leverage technology to not only save teachers time but add value for the kids," he said. "What should we be advocating for? Enhancing high-quality instruction, where it really becomes much more student-centered instruction, but without breaking the back of the teacher."
He recommends addressing the following areas in your digital learning strategy:
1. Your organization's core values
Before you do anything else, clearly identify your organization's core values and make sure every part of your digital learning plan aligns with those values. Wisconsin's strategy revolved around three key values, Kiefer said:
Ensuring equitable digital access for all students
Creating personalized learning experiences
Leveraging technology for applied and engaged learning
"We kept grounding ourselves back in those core values," he said. As a result, "we've been pretty successful in moving forward with the plan and arguing for why we need to implement it."
2. Eliminating rework for teachers
From curriculum planning to ongoing assessment, teachers have a lot to do. Technology does not replace teachers, yet it can make their lives less difficult and free them up to focus more on creating meaningful learning experiences. An effective strategic plan should include directives to leverage tools that increase efficiency and help reduce teacher workloads.
"Teachers do a lot of rework when it comes to curriculum development, and we've got to stop that," Kiefer said. "Every profession in the world is using technology to make things easier, and we should be doing that with teaching."
3. Differentiating instruction
Digital learning provides unprecedented opportunities for personalizing learning to meet the unique needs of each student. Online tools can allow students to "move on different paths at different paces without creating insurmountable paperwork for teachers to manage," Kiefer said. Take advantage of them by making differentiated instruction a priority in your organization's strategy.
Creating an organizationwide digital learning strategy is no small task, but it's a vital step in guiding the use of technology to improve learning at all levels.