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Aurora Institute

Broadband, Data Privacy, and OER: Building New Learning Models Infrastructure

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Dale Frost

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Increase Access to Broadband

The shift towards highly personalized, mastery-based learning models will be enabled by blended and online learning pathways that will allow each student to customize learning trajectories toward college and career readiness. To drive this vision, we must narrow the “digital divide” and equip our schools with high-speed broadband connectivity. We need to meet the demands of media-rich, adaptive online instructional content, adaptive assessment, and real-time data collection that supports personalized instruction accessible anytime, anywhere.

Next-generation accountability will require robust data systems capable not only of personalizing teaching and learning but also of “rolling up” data on teaching and learning for accountability that reflects actual student competency.

Within the proper safeguards, data collection is key to personalized learning. It is critical to enact balanced policies that provide good governance practices to ensure proper protection and use of personal and personally identifiable student data. At the same time, we need to enable new learning models and modalities to personalize learning and close achievement gaps. Policymakers should take care not to stifle innovation through prohibitive policies on student data, which can result in unintended consequences.

Finally, building systems and policies to ensure that high-quality Open Education Resources (OER) are widely available will provide a foundation of customizable content for personalizing learning and increase opportunities for educator collaboration and engagement.

State policy recommendations

  • Establish policies for the protection and good governance of student data privacy and avoid prohibitions on the collection and use of student data that can hamper personalized learning environments.
  • Expand and improve state broadband connectivity to ensure opportunities for anytime, anywhere learning:
    • Examine contracting strategies and pooled purchasing agreements to support statewide enterprise telecommunications services with multiple categories to aid cost-effective contracting for schools and districts.
    • State contracts should allow eligibility for any K–12 education program to buy off of statewide enterprise contracts to maximize telecommunications investments with public dollars and E-Rate funds.
    • Explore state strategies to make free or discounted broadband connectivity available to economically disadvantaged students at home and in their communities for anytime, anywhere learning.
  • Improve state data systems to collect standards-based, baseline, and longitudinal data to measure growth over time. This would improve accountability and better measure student proficiency, productivity and program effectiveness in real time.
  • Ensure that publicly created learning materials for public education have an open license.
  • Include OER on approved state instructional materials lists and support the development and maintenance of openly licensed instructional materials, devices, or infrastructure needed to help implement online curriculum and assessments aligned with state standards.    

What recommendations would you provide state policymakers? Please comment or Tweet us, @nacol.

This is the fifth of five state policy frameworks to transform K-12 public education. Taken as a whole, they present a framework for sustainable, systemic change that will dramatically increase personalized learning opportunities for all students. The complete updated iNACOL State Policy Frameworks 2015 were released to kick off the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium.

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