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Office of Education Technology

Roberto J. Rodríguez, Assistant Secretary

The US Department of Education published this Dear Colleague letter on January 25, 2023. It provides an overview of funding sources that state education agencies and school districts can use to support various technology solutions for educators to improve their practice and student learning.

The top opportunity for the use of Federal grant funds to support digital learning is "improving and personalizing professional learning and other supports for educators."

It further states that "technology can help improve learning and educational outcomes for students only when teachers are well supported with appropriate resources and have an opportunity to integrate technology with high-quality instruction."

Below, we have highlighted the parts relevant to professional learning for teachers.

Leverage Technology to Expand Access to High-Quality Professional Development

Professional Development – Grantees may use program funds in several ways to help educators implement technology-enabled strategies equitably, use data systems to support and improve teaching, and provide educators with access to job-embedded, sustained, and collaborative professional development to support the effective use of technology.

  1. States and districts may use Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A funds to support ongoing professional development on how to implement blended learning models and to support planning activities for blended learning programs. A district, for example, might use funds to provide initial professional learning for educators on effective blended learning model instruction, collaborative planning time, and ongoing, job-embedded professional learning opportunities to improve educator practice. These continuing opportunities could include access to digital professional learning resources.
  2. States and districts may use Title II, Part A funds to provide digital learning opportunities to support ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, digitally-literate professional learning for educators, to help educators better understand the core content of the subject areas they teach, improve their instruction and teaching practice.
  3. School districts may also use Title I, Part A funds for similar purposes to benefit educators in Title I schoolwide programs or Title I educators in targeted assistance programs.

Questions for Considerations

The following questions can guide leadership through important considerations in selecting strategies that provide and complement existing professional learning supports. These questions focus on the organization and level of evidence:

When it comes to the organization of professional learning to support educators in adapting their pedagogy and practice, does it:
  1. Connect to specific content and standards?
  2. Incorporate active learning?
  3. Leverage job-embedded, collaborative practices?
  4. Include coaching?
  5. Provide sustained and continuous supports?
  6. Align to relevant goals for school improvement and equitable outcomes?
  7. Deepen capacity and understanding regarding digital literacy and online health & safety?

When it comes to determining the level of evidence associated with a potential strategy:

  1. On a continuum between anecdotal, correlational, and causal, what kind of evidence is available to support this strategy?
  2. How rigorous was the study design for statistical evidence gathered to support this strategy?
  3. Where formal research has been conducted, how similar is our context to the context of the research study(ies) supporting this strategy, especially in factors such as vision for teaching & learning, infrastructure & operations, professional learning, and competing priorities?
  4. Did the study gather evidence related to a single outcome or multiple outcomes? If only a single outcome is reported, what additional information could be provided to support inferences for additional outcomes?
  5. What flexibilities do the terms of service provide to report research results about this strategy to a wider community about the effectiveness of this product?
  6. Does the contract contain language that would stop us from sharing outcomes either positive or negative?
Read Full Text and also visit tech.ed.gov to additional resources on the use of technology to support learning.

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