09/19/2012

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Developing effective digital learning policy In the ‘80s, teachers were excited to incorporate overhead projectors into their classrooms. In the ‘90s, cutting edge classrooms were those equipped with a computer—one that would allow students to take turns accessing CD-ROMs and saving to floppy disks. Today, digital technologies have exploded, and schools might issue tablets to all students, rely exclusively on virtual courses, or even encourage the use of cell phones in class. But does technology in the classroom really improve student achievement? Research tells us that although technology can have a positive impact on student achievement it is no guarantee of success (Pedro, 2012). Some students in online classes might outperform their peers, while those enrolled in a particular virtual school lag significantly behind. One educational software program may lead directly to higher test scores while another produces no measurable effect. And a one-to-one laptop initiative may be a wild success in one school district while it is a complete flop in the district next door. Given the variable success of digital learning initiatives, decision makers have much to consider when determining whether and how to invest in digital learning. McREL’s newest policy brief, “Beyond Access: Effective Digital Learning for a Globalized World,” offers recommendations to policymakers as they consider ways to formulate digital learning policy: 1. Consider digital learning options that will address the unique needs of a specific region Effective digital learning policy accounts for the strengths and needs that are unique to a region. While investment in a learning management system may...

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