LEAD Commission unveils digital learning blueprint

June 13, 2013


Collaboration with Department of Education, Federal Communications Commission and More Than 300 Thought Leaders Leads to Blueprint for Digital Learning Growth in America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative launch last week, the bipartisan Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission released a five-point blueprint today outlining specific actions to accelerate the expansion of digital learning in K-12 education in the United States that fully supports the President’s initiative. Answering a challenge from the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission to determine how technology can transform K-12 education, the LEAD Commission spent more than one year working with more than 300 thought leaders in the education technology field to identify the barriers that currently hamper digital learning in the U.S., and the necessary steps to overcome those barriers. The LEAD Commission’s blueprint details key research findings and calls for a major national initiative to accelerate the implementation of digital learning in America’s education system.

Recognized by the administration for having the foresight to examine this issue, the LEAD Commission is unveiling a five-point blueprint that calls on the federal, state, local, private and charitable sectors to embrace the following recommendations:

  • Solve the infrastructure challenge by updating the wiring of our schools;
  • Build a national effort to deploy devices;
  • Accelerate the adoption of digital curriculum;
  • Embrace and encourage model schools; and
  • Invest in human capital.

“As long as our schools remain in an education model that is fundamentally unchanged since the 19th century, we risk remaining stagnant as other countries surge ahead in educational performance,” said LEAD Commissioner and Co-Founder of TPG Capital Jim Coulter. “We’re eager to join the collective effort and growing political support, as seen with President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, to pave the way for expanded digital learning access in America.”

“As a country, we must make digital learning a national priority for every child to have access to the same high-quality 21st century learning tools – regardless of zip code,” said LEAD Commissioner and Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “This is not and should not be a partisan issue – it’s a matter of doing what’s best for the future of our country by investing in the digital learning resources that allow teachers and students to remain globally competitive.”

“Our partners in this effort share the belief that the national commitment towards digital learning in K-12 schools has been inadequate,” said LEAD Commissioner Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “With the launch of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, we believe that there will be even further interest and bipartisan support from key stakeholders to expand digital learning access.”

“Technology is having an impact on every sector of our society and economy, including basic and higher education," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger.  "While dedicated teachers and engaged students working together remain the vibrant core of learning, President Obama's ConnectED Initiative represents a huge step toward delivering an array of innovative teaching and learning tools to our classrooms.  We share with him the commitment to action that ensures greater equality of access to these increasingly critical digital education opportunities in schools across our nation.”

“I am deeply grateful for the work of the LEAD Commission on this blueprint, which embodies more than a year’s work of thinking about the challenges we face and the solutions education technology puts within our grasp,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has supported the work of the LEAD Commission since its inception in March 2012. “The President has set a goal of connecting 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband within five years, and we are absolutely committed to meeting that goal. The LEAD Commission will continue to be an important thought leader on realizing technology’s potential to be a great equalizer, but if we don’t act, we won’t make the kind of progress our students deserve. These recommendations provide a smart roadmap for harnessing technology to promote excellence and equity by increasing achievement, graduation rates and student engagement across the nation.”

“We look forward to considering the LEAD Commission’s recommendations as we continue our work to answer the President's call,” said Acting Chairwoman of the FCC Mignon L. Clyburn. “Ensuring that all America's students and teachers have the tools they need to compete in the 21st century remains a critical priority. I thank the LEAD Commission for its thoughtful work.” 

“Next-generation Internet speeds are virtually everywhere except for our classrooms,” said Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV. “We’ve seen what simply connecting schools online can do for students, so let’s give students the latest technology and bring their learning experience to the next level. Expanding this program so classrooms have the same high-speed Internet access as coffee shops just makes sense.”

“As an educator in Mooresville, we've seen firsthand the benefits of digital learning in our district, with increases in academic proficiency, scholarships and graduation rates,” said LEAD Commission supporter Mark Edwards, the superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District (NC) and the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year. “I am confident that the LEAD Commission's recommendations to expand digital learning access can help schools nationwide achieve similar success and begin to prepare students for the future.”

The Commission’s recommendations also set forth to address and reverse growing inequities for digital learning access between low and high income students and school districts in America, as outlined in a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project study that explored middle and high school teacher usage of technology at home and in the classroom and found that the lowest income students face more challenges in bringing digital learning resources tools to the classroom.