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Phase 3: Putting in Place a Robust Infrastructure for Learning

“Preparing students to be successful for the future requires a robust and flexible learning infrastructure capable of supporting new types of engagement and providing ubiquitous access to the technology tools that allow students to create, design, and explore.”
-National Education Technology Plan

#GoOpen Districts that implement openly licensed educational resources at scale need a robust and comprehensive infrastructure for learning that supports high-speed access to resources and devices for both students and teachers in school and at home. In determining their district’s digital readiness, #GoOpen teams take infrastructure into consideration in the early stages of planning to ensure that the infrastructure is reliable and secure, and that every student has equitable access to the resources.

Phase 3 Tasks

  1. Assess your digital readiness and your infrastructure to ensure that you are ready to provide comprehensive and robust support for openly licensed educational resources at scale.
  2. Ensure accessibility of openly licensed educational resources in school and at home to ensure equity.

Phase 3 Guiding Questions

  • What is the overall digital readiness of your district?

    Digital readiness is key to a smooth #GoOpen rollout. A baseline measure of digital readiness is infrastructure, but it also includes establishing acceptable or responsible use policies, accessibility for all students, professional learning for teachers, and digital citizenship skills. #GoOpen Districts ensure that all of these components are present and are annually assessed by a committee or task force. Key policies to address when assessing your digital readiness plan are as follows:

    • Responsible Use Policy (RUP)

      A responsible use policy (RUP) is a written agreement among parents, students, and school personnel that outlines the terms of responsible use and consequences for misuse. Effective RUPs create an opportunity to teach students while in school to become responsible digital citizens throughout their lives, which will help them thrive in a connected world.

    • Student Privacy Data

      The use of student data is crucial for personalized learning and continuous improvement. Acting as the stewards of student data presents educators with several responsibilities. School officials, families, and software developers have to be mindful of how data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices affect students. Schools and districts have an obligation to tell students and families what kind of student data the school or third parties (for example, online educational service providers) are collecting and how the data can be used. As you plan, you can put policies in place regarding who has access to student data and make sure that students and families understand their rights and responsibilities concerning data collection.

    • Accessibility

      Education stakeholders should develop a “born accessible” standard of learning resource design to help educators select and evaluate learning resources for accessibility and equity of learning experience. Born accessible is a play on the term born digital and is used to convey the idea that materials that are born digital also can and should be born accessible. If producers adopt current industry standards for producing educational materials, materials will be accessible out of the box. Using the principles and research-base of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning, this standard would serve as a commonly accepted framework and language around design for accessibility and offer guidance to vendors and third-party technology developers in interactions with states, districts, and institutions of higher education.

      Equity in education means increasing all students’ access to educational opportunities with a focus on closing achievement gaps and removing barriers students face based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin; sex; sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; disability; English language ability; religion; socio-economic status; or geographical location.1

      Accessibility refers to the design of apps, devices, materials, and environments that support and enable access to content and educational activities for all learners. Accessible educational materials benefit all students, and also may be needed in order to properly meet the needs of students with disabilities and to provide them with equal educational opportunity as required under laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In addition to enabling students with disabilities to use content and participate in activities, the concepts also apply to accommodating the individual learning needs of students, such as English language learners, students in rural communities, or students from economically disadvantaged homes. Technology can support accessibility through embedded assistance—for example, text-to-speech, audio and digital text formats of instructional materials, programs that differentiate instruction, adaptive testing, built-in accommodations, and other assistive technology tools.2

  • Key Federal Laws Protecting Student Data and Privacy

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that affords parents the right to inspect and review their chil- dren’s education records, the right to seek to have the education records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 or enters a post-secondary education institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer to the student. Students to whom FERPA rights have transferred are termed eligible students.

    FERPA generally requires that parents or eligible students provide prior written consent before schools can share personally identifiable information from a student’s education records, unless an exception applies. For example, when schools and districts use online educational services, they must ensure that FERPA requirements are met. Typically, the FERPA school official exception to consent will apply to schools’ and districts’ use of online educational services. The U.S. Department of Education issued best practice guidance to address questions related to student privacy and the use of online educational technology in the classroom, available here.

    The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232h; 34 CFR Part 98) governs the administration to students of a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning one or more of eight protected areas, including, but not limited to, sexual behaviors and attitudes and illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior. PPRA also concerns marketing surveys and other areas of student privacy, parental access to information, and the administration of certain physical examinations to minors.

    For more information about FERPA and PPRA, visit http://familypolicy.ed.gov/. General questions about FERPA or PPRA may be submitted to the Family Policy Compliance Office by using the Contact Us tab on that website or directly here.

    The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) (15 U.S.C. § 6501–6505) governs online collection of personal information from children under age 13. For example, before a developer can collect any information from a student under 13, verifiable parental consent is required. The FCC, which enforces COPPA, has said that school officials can act in the capacity of a parent to provide consent to sign students up for online educational programs at school. The general guidance is that software companies are allowed to track students within their program, but COPPA prevents them from tracking those students across the Internet.

    The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (47 U.S.C. § 254) imposes several requirements on schools or libraries that receive E-rate discounts for Internet access. Schools and libraries must certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. These protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are obscene, pornographic, or harmful to minors, and schools also must monitor the online activities of minors. Because most schools receive E-rate funds, they are required to educate their students about appropriate online behavior, including on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and to build cyberbullying awareness. Particularly if a digital learning resource requires networking among students, schools must comply with CIPA.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains confidentiality provisions in addition to the more general provisions of FERPA.

  • Is your infrastructure ready to support teachers and students both at school and at home?

    When implementing digital openly licensed educational resources, you will need to plan for providing students will access beyond the school grounds. We encourage #GoOpen teams to read the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) to learn how to evaluate your infrastructure for openly licensed educational resources and ensure that the focus is on learning and active use of technology. The U.S. Department of Education’s Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning provides additional, more detailed guidance.

    Students in your district who do not have connectivity can participate in an after school program that is funded by the state LEAP grant. This program allows students to gain support from a staff member as well as gain access to the school’s network.

Phase 3 Example

Infrastructure for Open Digital Learning

North Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City, MO
  • Bandwidth: 10 Gbps Internet with 40 Gbps network core
  • Access beyond school: Currently, access provided beyond the school day includes extended building hours and wifi that covers much of the campus and parking lots. However, in terms of this project, many of the resources (including CK-12 Flexbooks) can be downloaded as ePub files to be used offline in apps such as iBooks
  • Access points: All four high schools are adequately covered and have been 1:1 ecosystems for several years now. Additional access points have already been purchased via eRate this year in anticipation of 1:1 districtwide
  • Devices: 12,000 MacBook Air laptops and 2,500 iPads all managed with Casper Mobile Device Management System (MDM)
  • Openly Licensed Educational Resources Tool/Platform: The CK-12 platform as well as a free cloud-based service (Diigo) to curate and archive resources. The district feels that it is valuable to keep these resources in a centralized and openly accessible place for the purpose of at least yearly updates as well as being able to embed them into various LMS-type platforms into the future
  • Learning Management System (LMS): Blackboard Learn 9.1 is a required LMS for virtual courses and an optional LMS for blended courses in the district’s secondary schools. The platform is capable of delivering both copyrighted and openly licensed educational resources.

Phase 3 Resources

  • The National Educational Technology Plan: A call to action designed for teachers, administrators, policy makers, and government officials that focuses on learning supported by technology. The infrastructure section specifically addresses essential components necessary to support a robust and comprehensive infrastructure.
  • Future Ready Schools Infrastructure Guide: Support and guidance for K-12 connectivity
  • Internet access to low-income homes: Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona, is an example of a district pursuing strategies to connect students when they are off campus. Sunnyside worked with Connect2Compete to expand internet access to the home to support their OER based digital learning.

  1. U.S. Department of Education. (2013). U.S. Department of Education strategic plan for fiscal years 2014–2018. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/strat/plan2014-18/strategic-plan.pdf.
  2. Assistive Technology Industry Association. What is assistive technology? How is it funded? Retrieved from http:// www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3859.

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