Information Systems Officer Preface

Message from Information System Officer, Dean Folkers:


If one were to think about the different ways technology has changed our everyday life it does not take very long to come to the realization that the world continues to change at a rapid pace.  The role of process, policy, and procedures are often heavily relied upon as a source of stability and clarity, yet it is increasingly difficult to keep up the demands of current and future.

One of the areas where an opportunity exists to rethink and align the expectations around teaching and learning with technology tools that can enhance, engage, and extend the learning experiences for students (Kolb, 2017). In addition, the opportunity to more securely and efficiently capture and effectively use data in support of decisions impacting schools, learning, and the education system have never been more relevant and important.

The rapidly changing landscape of digital resources and tools creates a paradox of sorts by creating complexities and an often overwhelming number of options, while at the same time this expansion provides a unique opportunity to enable personalization of learning in ways not possible even a short time ago. The increasing number of different applications, tools, and resources to meet discrete needs offer an exciting opportunity for education.

A challenge is navigating through the landscape and doing so while considering costs, efficiencies, privacy, security, and ultimately effectiveness. Future Ready Nebraska begins the process of using a framework designed for schools to support personalized learning and identifies a series of priorities across the system that can be coordinated, prioritized, and accomplished collectively to minimize the duplication, while ensuring a solid foundation for Nebraska schools to support teaching and learning through technology.

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, penned the phrase, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.” Through establishing a series of realistic and achievable goals and actions, the Future Ready Nebraska Council created an opportunity to recognize and link amazing work already in progress in Nebraska, as well as build linkages to opportunities and resources that all Nebraskans may benefit.

A 2014 study in Nebraska responding to Legislative Resolution (LR) 264 estimated that Nebraska collectively spends $100 million annually on staff and software licenses supporting administrative data management and digital teaching and learning in Nebraska. A recommendation of the study was to consider opportunities for removing duplication and take advantage of economies of scale in support of Nebraska schools. The Future Ready Nebraska plan identifies opportunities to address these issues as well as provide coordination among opportunities in quality instructional materials, including Open Education Resources (OER), professional learning opportunities, infrastructure and planning, data privacy and security efforts, as well support adjustments to policy and approaches in support of personalized learning.

While Future Ready Nebraska may not address everything occurring to improve equity of opportunity in Nebraska, the process begins the conversations, supports coherence, and coordinates the efforts of navigating the changing landscape of digital to support the teaching and learning process. I encourage others to review the plan, identify opportunities for support, and engage in some way the future path.


Dean R. Folkers, D.M.
Information Systems Officer
Nebraska Department of Education


Updated July 31, 2018 11:37am