Kentucky was one of the early leaders in virtual learning. Today, we are struggling to find the appropriate methods for funding, support and innovation.
Over the past two years, we have been working first through the Transforming Education in Kentucky task force and now through an “innovative pathways to graduation” committee to define how we can create more opportunities for students and teachers to engage in digital learning.
Our work in Kentucky is being informed through the Digital Learning Now report that was a collaborative project of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise. We have been utilizing the services of a consulting firm – OpenEd Solutions – to develop key recommendations for policy and budget decisions. The consulting firm is conducting an analysis of current digital learning conditions in Kentucky and will host a Digital Summit on September 7 in Lexington to further develop a final report. The final report will then be presented to Kentucky Board of Education and key legislators for action in the 2012 session.
This week saw some exciting potential for the future of digital learning in Kentucky. In a joint press conference held at Woodford County High School, Governor Steve Beshear, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, Kentucky Educational Television Executive Director Shae Hopkins and I announced the launch of the Kentucky on iTunes U site. This free source provides access to numerous teacher- and student-friendly sites that provide unlimited opportunities for digital learning.
Also, it was exciting to witness the deployment of a 1:1 iPad solution in Woodford County High classrooms. Students and teachers demonstrated exciting new opportunities for digital learning. Superintendent Scott Hawkins and his team are to be commended for their innovative work. Woodford County joins many other Kentucky school districts with similar 1:1 projects and a focus on innovation.
Our partners at the UK P20 Innovation Lab and the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) are stretching our thinking for the future. Also, a group of 16 school districts is partnering with us through the Stupski Foundation and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to design the next generation of schools and learning opportunities.
The energy, interest and creative abilities exist in Kentucky to create the national model for digital learning. Stay tuned for the final report from our digital summit.