Plan Origins and Rationale

The 2018 – 2020 Nebraska Statewide Digital Learning and Educational Technology Plan sets forth a commitment and vision for creating an environment in which personalized digital learning is provided to PK – 12 students throughout Nebraska giving them the skills needed for learning, earning, and living. The intention of the plan is to provide key ideas and recommendations as well as provide a guide for planning and support aligned to the 2017 National Education Technology Plan (NETP), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) recently amended by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the Nebraska Strategic Vision and Direction (Strategic Plan) written by the Nebraska State Board of Education while also supporting the goals and work of the Future Ready Nebraska Council.

This 2018 – 2020 Nebraska Digital Learning and Ed Tech Plan was designed to provide a map to assist Nebraska education leaders to create systematic changes to digital learning and education technology. In order to create a cohesive and comprehensive plan it was decided to base the work around the Future Ready framework. The research-based Future Ready Framework was created by the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) in an effort to maximize digital learning opportunities. The framework includes seven key areas, called gears, which make up the individual areas that should be addressed to create a larger comprehensive plan.  The gears addressed in this plan are:

Future Ready Framework

 

  1. Budget and Resources
  2. Community Partnership Development
  3. Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
  4. Data and Privacy
  5. Personalized Professional Development
  6. Robust Infrastructure
  7. Use of Space and Time

Information, goals, and recommendations that support each of the Future Ready gears are provided within this plan.

 

THE CREATION OF THE FUTURE READY NEBRASKA COUNCIL

In 2014, the Nebraska Legislature passed Legislative Resolution 264 (LR 264) the purpose of which is stated as: “The purpose of this resolution is to examine the education data system. The study shall include an assessment of the adequacy of the current data system maintained by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) to provide timely access to relevant and accurate data to meet various needs, including information for teachers in public schools about student achievement in their classrooms, objective research regarding educational practices, data for policy formation and review, and accountability to the public regarding the performance of the public schools.”

The Nebraska Commissioner of Education, Dr. Matt Blomstedt, further directed that, based upon assessment of the current data system, the study make specific recommendations and propose a high-level one, three, and five year plan to improve, upgrade, and modernize the Nebraska Education Data System to meet the needs of Nebraska’s public education system.

The study of Nebraska education data systems gathered information on three types of systems – Teaching and Learning, Administrative, and Back Office – as well as the cost and effort associated with data and accountability submissions. Superintendents and technology educators were invited to participate in a survey of system availability and importance. The Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) recommended district leaders participate in virtual focus groups on each system type. The NCSA also recommended district financial personnel participate in individual interviews detailing the cost associated with education systems and data submission in their districts. Specific briefings and interviews were held with NCSA, the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA), the Education Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC), and Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) leaders. Over 200 education leaders in Nebraska participated in the study.

The LR 264 study made the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure security, privacy, transparency, and the proper use of data the core of the Nebraska Education Data System implementation.
  2. Unify the accountability data collection requirements into the Nebraska Education Data System to minimize the reporting burden on districts.
  3. Require application vendors and other sources to provide data in a standard form specified by NDE directly into the Nebraska Education Data Standard (NEDS).
  4. Leverage and strengthen Nebraska’s ESU network, the ESUCC, and Network Nebraska to host, maintain, and sustain the Nebraska Education Data System, to support a statewide virtual help desk, and to train the educators in it is use.
  5. Leverage the state-level market to influence vendors, negotiate lower prices through competition, provide consistent functions and pricing across large and small districts, and expand the number and quality of instructional applications.
  6. Invest in providing education intelligence – access to actionable insight – through a warehouse, business intelligence tools, and increased internal capacity for districts, policy makers, and researchers.
  7. Invest in an integrated data system that spans the districts, the ESU’s, and NDE to support continuous education improvement.
  8. Integrate staff data from district and state data sources, link teachers to student performance and success, and add additional data to better support teacher evaluation and professional development.
  9. Invest in the licensing, integration and training of an Instructional Improvement System that is cost-effective for districts of all sizes.
  10. Develop the staff and processes necessary to sustain the Nebraska Education Data System.

The primary benefits of the LR 264 study recommendations will come from a greatly improved instructional system that improves student performance leading to greater student success. In addition, the proposed approach also results in cost savings and efficiencies that will also provide a financial return from substantially-reduced accountability costs and from reduced technology costs to districts. The projected cumulative net return for the investment over five years is $44.8 million.

In response to the LR 264 study and in an effort to coordinate the number of positive initiatives, efforts, and supports for digital learning and education technology in Nebraska, NDE created the Future Ready Nebraska Council (FRNC). Members of this council represent strategic partner groups that are committed to use their expertise and knowledge to shape and communicate the vision, strategic objectives, and actions intended to transform the digital education and education systems of Nebraska schools.

The purpose of the FRNC is to assist the NDE Information Systems Officer (ISO) in shaping, planning, and communicating the vision, strategic objectives, and actions that transform the digital education and administrative systems of Nebraska schools. Assuming roles of Champion, Capacity Builder, Connector, and Change Agent, the work of the Council enables, in part, the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) strategic vision and direction for Nebraska Education.

Members of the FRNC broadly represent the K-12 education community in Nebraska. Responsibilities include attending regular meetings, providing insight and opinions in planning and prioritization, and communicating and acquiring feedback from their representative stakeholders. The NDE ISO, with recommendations from representative groups, appoints members to the council.

Membership to the Council includes the following representative groups:

  • NDE ISO Project Members
  • Administrators and External Partners
    • Experts and influencers to align and support initiatives and efforts
      • District superintendents
      • District principals
      • Curriculum specialists
      • Assessment specialist
      • Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC), Education Council member
      • Nebraska Association of Technology Administrators (NATA) member
      • Nebraska Education Technology Association (NETA) member
      • Legislative Champion (State Senator)
    • Technology Directors
      • LEA technology problem-solvers from broad experiences and using a variety of technologies
        • 2 rural, 1 suburban, 1 urban
      • Educational Service Unit (ESU) and Affiliate Group Representatives
        • Provide expertise in related areas and engage with other ESU affiliate members
          • ESU Administrator
          • Network Operations Committee (NOC) current chair or appointed liaison
          • Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) current chair or appointed liaison
          • Staff Development Affiliate (SDA) current chair or appointed liaison
          • At large Tech integration, Blend Ed, and/or Prof Dev coordinator

Purpose of Future Ready Nebraska Council

The FRNC provides intellectual and practical insights toward the development of Nebraska’s Digital Learning and Ed Tech comprehensive plan for PK-12. This digital learning plan and ed tech plan builds a coherent long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable Nebraska educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.

To meet the needs of today’s students and to ensure they are college, career and civic ready, the council will encourage schools and districts throughout Nebraska to be innovative in providing student learning experiences, adopting technologies and instruction in ways that meaningfully engage the digital generation. In addition, teachers will be trained to provide digital opportunities that promote critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. The council’s long term outcomes will provide for equitable, personalized, and engaged digital learning for all Nebraska students. These outcomes will be accomplished through the work of the FRNC using the Future Ready Framework.

The council, through its collaborative gear groups, will create vision, plan, implement, and assess the digital learning plan continually. Once a plan is strategically developed in each gear, the council will move forward into an implementation phase providing statewide systems that lend support and resources that result in innovation empowered by digital learning throughout Nebraska.

The FRNC provides intellectual and practical insights toward the development of Nebraska’s Digital Learning and Ed Tech comprehensive plan for PK-12. This digital learning plan and ed. tech. plan builds a coherent long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable Nebraska educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.

To meet the needs of today’s students and to ensure they are college, career and civic ready, the council will encourage schools and districts throughout Nebraska to be innovative in providing student learning experiences, adopting technologies and instruction in ways that meaningfully engage the digital generation. In addition, teachers will be trained to provide digital opportunities that promote critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. The council’s long term outcomes will provide for equitable, personalized, and engaged digital learning for all Nebraska students. These outcomes will be accomplished through the work of the FRNC using the Future Ready Framework.

The council, through its collaborative gear groups, will create vision, plan, implement, and assess the digital learning plan continually. Once a plan is strategically developed in each gear, the council will move forward into an implementation phase providing statewide systems that lend support and resources that result in innovation empowered by digital learning throughout Nebraska.

At the heart of Future Ready is the research-based Future Ready Framework, a robust structure for digital learning, planning, and implementation. The Future Ready Framework emphasizes empowered and innovative leadership and focuses on seven essential components (called gears), while keeping personalized student learning at the center of all decision-making.

Future Ready Framework

The Future Ready Framework developed by the Alliance for Excellent Education (The Alliance) was chosen as the primary model for the development of the statewide Digital Learning and Ed Tech plan and the work of the Future Ready Nebraska Council. This free research based framework was designed as a tool to assist educators “to create a systematic plan using technology as a tool to effectively engage students, empower teachers and improve learning outcomes.” Recently a state leaders framework was also developed to help State Education Agencies provide support to their state school districts to help advance and promote digital and personalized learning as well as create an environment throughout the state that improves digital equity and capacity building.

In December 2017, a Future Ready Nebraska Council Goals survey was sent out statewide to educational stakeholders throughout the state. The main purpose of this survey was to prioritize the goals set by the Future Ready Nebraska Council and to allow for feedback on each of the goals. More than 300 educators and education leaders participated in the survey and represented much of Nebraska. Figure 1 shows the representation of each participant by zip code. Figure 2 shows the education roles that each participant represented. The largest represented group were PK – 12 Administrators which represented 63% of the total respondents.

Nebraska Map with Respondents location

Based on the data collected, each gear group was asked to review their role and prioritize their goals using the data and the comments that were shared for each of the goals.

Budget & Resources Survey Results

The role of the Budget and Resources Gear is to identify opportunities to reduce costs for technology procurement. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The five main goal areas were:  funding options, sustainability, prioritize funding, equitable investment and return on investment. Figure 3 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving five points and the fifth priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. They appear in priority order within Figure 3.

Community Partnerships Survey Results

The role of the Community Partnerships Gear is to establish a Future Ready Schools coalition of interested and invested organizations and parties. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The five main goal areas were:  forming partners, exemplars, build partnership, clearinghouse and getting started. Figure 4 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving five points and the fifth priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. They appear in priority order within Figure 4.  Based on feedback from the survey these goals were further refined and finalized into these 4 areas: communication, partnerships, exemplars and build equity. These changes are reflected in the Community Partnerships goals shown later in the plan.

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Survey Results

The role of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gear is to integrate the effective use of technology in all state academic standards, not just technology standards. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The seven main goal areas were: training and educators, online resources, standards, student access, Rule 10, personalized learning and invest in resources. Figure 5 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving seven points and the seventh priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. They appear in priority order within Figure 5. Based on the feedback from the survey respondents these goals were further refined and finalized to five goals in these five areas: regulations, technology in learning, training and educator resources, online student resources and assessment and research. These changes are reflected in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals shown later in the plan.

Curriculum and Instruction Chart

Data & Privacy Survey Results

The role of the Data and Privacy Gear is twofold, first is to provide useful data to leaders and educators to support instruction and decision-making. The second is to articulate clear expectations relating to the privacy of student data. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The three main goal areas were: data collection, policies and data communication. Figure 6 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving three points and the third priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. They appear in priority order within Figure 6. Based on the feedback from survey some changes were made to the original goals and a new main goal area was developed called training which still includes parts of the data communication goals but also added additional components that were suggested in the survey. These changes are reflected in the Data and Privacy goals shown later in the plan.

Personalized Professional Learning Survey Results 

The role of the Personalized Professional Learning Gear is to provide opportunities for educators and leaders to deepen their Future Ready Schools knowledge. The elements that comprise this gear are: shared ownership and responsibility for professional growth, 21st Century skill set, diverse opportunities for professional learning through technology, broad-based, participative evaluation. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The three main goal areas were: online resources, effective professional learning and differentiate professional learning. Figure 7 show the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving three points and the third priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. They appear in priority order within Figure 7.

Robust Infrastructure Survey Results

The role of the Robust Infrastructure Gear is to establish a technology ecosystem to ensure every school exceeds industry-connectivity standards. The elements that comprise this gear are: adequacy of devices; quality and availability, robust network infrastructure, adequate and responsive support, and formal cycle for review and replacement. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The five main goal areas were: access, funding, single sign on, e-Rate and procurement. Figure 8 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving five points and the fifth priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. Based on the feedback from survey some changes were made to the original goals and the e-Rate goal was broadened to include other parts of the infrastructure. This broader area was renamed Infrastructure which is shown in the Robust Infrastructure goals shown later in the plan.

Use of Space and Time Survey Results

The role of the Use of Space and Time Gear is to create opportunities for districts to explore innovative classroom models. The elements that comprise this gear are: flexible learning; anytime, anywhere, new pedagogy, schedules and learning environment for personalized learning, competency based learning and strategies for providing extended time for projects and collaboration. The focus areas of each goal were summarized into short phrases which are indicated on the chart. The seven main goal areas were: access, digital tools, blended courses, integrating tech, exemplars, distance learning, and Rule 10. Figure 9 shows the goals by priority ranking of the survey respondents. Each priority was given a point value with first priority receiving seven points and the seventh priority indicated by the respondent receiving one point. Based on the feedback from survey some changes were made to the original goals. Goals were condensed into 3 broader areas: learning environment, learning pedagogy and exemplars. These changes are reflected in the Use of Space and time goals later in the plan.

Use of Space and Time Survey Results

In addition to reviewing the Future Ready Nebraska Goals survey, AQuESTT Evidence Based Analysis (EBA) data was also reviewed to help further edit and prioritize the FRNC goals. Many of the respondents of the Future Ready Nebraska Goals survey indicated that where possible the goals of the FRNC be tied to the AQuESTT tenets and EBA results. The EBA results shown below represent the most requested supports indicated by the respondents of the EBA. The supports are divided into 3 main types:

  1. Technical Support
  2. Professional Development
  3. Other Resources

Many of the supports that were most requested are clearly tied to goals that were set forth by the FRNC.

Figure 10 below shows which EBA items were the top requested technical supports for schools classified as good, great and excellent. There are many ties to several of the gear’s goals listed in these technical requests. The first three: supplementing in-person classroom instruction with digital learning opportunities, technology to support teaching and learning and strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans are all addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals. The fourth most requested technical support: before or after school opportunities is addressed within the Use of Space and Time goals. The fifth highest ranked EBA item: utilizing perceptual data is addressed within the Data and Privacy goals.

Figure 10 - Top requests for technical support for Good, Great and Excellent schools

Figure 11 below shows which EBA items were the top requested technical supports for schools classified as needs improvement. For needs improvement schools there are 3 EBA items that are supported by Future Ready gear goals. The first one: partnerships with community groups and support services is supported within the Community Partnerships gear goals. The fourth and sixth items: strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans and supplementing in-person classroom instruction with digital learning opportunities are addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals.

Figure 11: Top requests for technical support for Needs Improvement schools

Figure 12 below shows which EBA items were the top requested professional development supports for schools classified as good, great and excellent. There is one that directly ties to the gear’s goals listed in these professional development requests. The first one: strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans is addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals.

Figure 12 - Top requests for professional development for Good, Great and Excellent schools

Figure 13 below shows which EBA items were the top requested professional development for schools classified as needs improvement. For needs improvement schools there are 2 EBA items that are supported by Future Ready gear goals. The first and fourth items: strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans and supplementing in-person classroom instruction with digital learning opportunities are addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals.

Figure 13 - Top requests for professional development for Needs Improvement schools

Figure 14 below shows which EBA items were the top requested other resources for schools classified as good, great and excellent. There 3 EBA items that directly tie to the gear’s goals listed in these professional development requests. The first one: before or after school opportunities is supported within the Use of Space and time goals. The second one: partnerships with community groups and support services is supported within the Community Partnership goals and the fourth one: strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans is addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals.

Figure 14: Top requests for professional development for Good, Great and Excellent schools

Figure 15 below shows which EBA items were the top requested other resources for schools classified as needs improvement. For needs improvement schools there are 3 EBA items that are supported by Future Ready gear goals. The second item: partnerships with community groups and support services is supported by the Community Partnerships goals. The fourth item: before and after school opportunities is supported by the Use of Space and Time goals and the fifth one: strategies to support all students in monitoring and managing learning/student personal learning plans and supplementing in-person classroom instruction with digital learning opportunities are addressed in the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment goals.

Figure 15: Top requests for professional development for Needs Improvement schools