States

Former Govs. Prod States on Digital Education

By Michele McNeil & Christina A. Samuels — August 18, 2010 | Corrected: February 21, 2019 2 min read
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Corrected: An earlier version of this story misidentified U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education James H. Shelton’s relationship with the Digital Learning Council. He is a liaison to the group.

Two former governors of Florida and West Virginia with longstanding interests in education policy have unveiled an effort intended to encourage states to more deeply weave current and future technology innovations into public education.

In a press release last week, Jeb Bush and Bob Wise said that the newly formed Digital Learning Council would move digital learning to the forefront of education and away from the “niche role” they believe digital learning plays today.

The 50-member council includes John D. Couch, vice president of education at Apple Inc.; Shafeen Charania, director of education product group marketing for Microsoft; Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va.; state officials; and scholars at education think tanks. U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education James H. Shelton, who heads the office of innovation and improvement, is a liaison to the council.

The plan is to create a set of best practices that would cover a range of digital-learning issues, including: online and virtual schools, classroom technology, equity, security and privacy, and digital content.

The council plans to do its work in two phases. It will develop the list of best practices for digital education by November or December, and in the second phase, encourage states to adopt them. The process is intended to be similar to that of the Data Quality Campaign, a foundation-funded group based in Washington focused on improving the collection, availability, and use of high quality education data.

According to the new group, more than 2 million K-12 students take courses online, and 1.5 million home-education students take online courses, “but that barely scratches the surface of what is possible through technology.”

“The members of the Digital Learning Council share a sense of extreme urgency about the need to bring digital learning to every school, every classroom, and every child,” said Mr. Wise in a statement.

Mr. Wise said the move to create digital-learning standards is urgent because of teacher retirements, declining state revenues, and an education pipeline that’s not near President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

In an interview with Education Week, Mr. Bush said digital technology’s “disruptive nature for good has not been applied to our education system. If you look at how technology has improved our lives, it has only been an accessory in education.” The blueprint created by the Digital Learning Council “will move us towards a more customized learning environment where more students learn at their maximum pace.”

Mr. Bush said that the group is nonpartisan.

“My hope is we aren’t going to advance any particular agenda,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the August 25, 2010 edition of Education Week as States’ Digital Education Priorities Targeted by New Advocacy Group

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