Grant to help digital learning

By: Scott Witten - Editor
File photo Students from across Scotland County school district embraced the day of robotics earlier in the school year.

LAURINBURG — Scotland County Schools is one of eight districts to receive one of the Department of Public Instructi0n’s Digital Learning Initiative Planning grants.

The $49,500 planning grant will be used for the 2018-19 school year to support the development of a local digital learning model, DPI announced on Thursday.

The State Board of Education this week approved the 33 proposals through a second round of competitive grants under the state’s Digital Learning Initiative.

Scotland officials said the goal is to have a district-wide, grade-level specific computer science curriculum for implementation for 10 schools, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

“In order to achieve this a robust and focused professional development is needed to adequately prepare teachers,” according to the grant application.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson said the interest in the grant program is a clear signal that schools are eager to embrace digital teaching and learning for teachers and students. Scotland’s school district will share in $2.18 million in grant funding from the state.

“These promising initiatives will help North Carolina continue to innovate in the classroom and advance on its goal of providing all students with personalized, digital-age learning,” Johnson said in a statement. “Once these efforts show success for students, they can be scaled and replicated elsewhere in the state.”

The work of each grantee will focus on supporting the state’s digital learning competencies for educators and other initiatives such as micro-credentialing and digital literacy. Many of the approved grants focus on providing resources for professional development, seen as a critical foundation supporting the adoption of effective approaches to digital learning the state’s schools.

Grants were awarded for three different types of projects: planning, implementation and innovation academies.

A total of 10 planning grants were approved for eight districts and two charter schools, most for $50,000, for efforts ranging from improving professional development for teachers to developing an online library of effective personalized learning practices.

Nineteen districts were awarded two-year implementation grants, most for $75,000 for each of the two years, including an innovative partnership between two districts in the northeastern part of the state and the development of a published set of easily replicable standards-based mini projects that incorporate digital learning and other innovative learning approaches.

The four districts receiving the three-year innovation academy grants — $100,000 per year for each – are leaders in the state in digital teaching and learning and will share their experience and knowledge with educators from other districts through model demonstration sites and ongoing professional development.

The grant initiative was authorized in 2016 by the General Assembly as part of collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University to advance the state’s Digital Learning Plan.

The plan is to develop a long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.

File photo Students from across Scotland County school district embraced the day of robotics earlier in the school year. photo Students from across Scotland County school district embraced the day of robotics earlier in the school year.

Scott Witten