Ed Tech ARRA Grant
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In Iowa, our Ed Tech ARRA grant RFP focused on online learning. There are several equity issues being addressed for students. Rural students do not have access to the same depth of curriculum as urban students. Urban students need support for credit recovery. Additionally, all students benefit from engaging online content. The RFP had several goals to be addressed:
- Develop teacher capacity to teach lessons, units and courses online.
- Purchase, partner and develop online content to support districts (provides for pandemic/ disasters and teacher shortage areas).
- Develop a state repository for online professional development and instruction. Provide equity and diversity of curriculum for all.
A consortium of all the AEAs and most of the UEN districts was formed to support the development of online learning with a single state-wide project. There were two projects funded. The AEA/ UEN consortium project and the Des Moines Schools Consortium project. A total of $3,156,382 in Federal Ed Tech ARRA funds were awarded to grant sub-recipients.
Four Goals for Initiative
- Acquisition and development of full online courses
- Acquisition and development of online resources such as media, modules, simulations, and other content that can be used for a variety of online learning purposes
- Professional development in online pedagogy, including instructional design and online facilitation
- Creation of a common portal for LEAs to access the content
These initiatives will be focused on secondary-level instruction in literacy, mathematics, and science, and will likewise be focused on the development of online courses as well as content specifically geared for credit recovery.
Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, in conjunction with Council Bluffs CSD, Davenport CSD, Sioux City CSD, Waterloo CSD, Cedar Rapids CSD, Dubuque CSD, and Iowa City CSD, are partnering to develop a statewide repository for 9-12 online learning content. This statewide repository will make available online content for schools to use for free or for substantially discounted prices. The vision of the partnership is to purchase content that would be available for Iowa's high school students to access and use.
Additionally, Iowa's school districts would develop their own content to provide cost-effectiveness and sustainability to the system. In this regard, the partnership will work to professionally develop Iowa's teacher's ability to teach online, both in facilitation and in online instructional design; building the state's internal capacity to provide online education in collaboration with Iowa Learning Online (ILO).
Benefits to Students
The benefits of online learning are many. The students have control of their own learning. They are more motivated. They feel comfortable asking questions and individual voice is heard with greater frequency compared to a face-to-face class. Online learning helps students feel more connected to school and provides more opportunities to collaborate with classmates in constructivist learning.
Online learning often provides tools to organize school assignments as well as increased communication and dialog. This can lead to virtual learning communities of students and teachers who meet and collaborate beyond the boundaries of the local district. This will provide equity of instructional opportunity to all students across the state.
Online classes provide more availability, additional help and support, flexible scheduling, more relevant learning projects, degree of personalized content, and the ability to work at your own pace outside of the constraints of the classroom schedule. This type of instruction will provide students with 21st century skills in preparation for careers that involve critical thinking and use of technology tools.
Moreover, a common shared repository of online content will benefit districts in event of pandemic, disaster or need for students to take a course where the course cannot be offered in the classroom. To facilitate the model of a state repository of shared content, it would be beneficial for consortium collaboration on meeting student needs leads to the purchase of online products with state or regional access for students.
In all, the benefits for students lead to greater learning and our students being better-prepared for the 21st century workplace. This ultimately benefits the state, leading to better economic growth.
Des Moines Public Schools Consortium
The focus of the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) ARRA Ed Tech project will be to increase student achievement and develop student employability skills by addressing student learning needs. DMPS identified high school competency in the Iowa Core Curriculum areas of Literacy, Math, and Science as our Ed Tech focus area. DMPS will address student needs in two areas: online credit recovery classes and full online courses in literacy, math, and science.
Three Goals for Initiative
- Increase student achievement.
- Increase access to technology.
- Increase teaching capacity.
DMPS will accomplish stated goals by:
- Expanding online curriculum and course offerings,
- Increasing the number and quality of online tools and equipment that will facilitate the integration of online education, and
- Providing professional development to teachers so that they can become proficient, effective online educators.
DMPS will participate in the external evaluation of the Ed Tech project in Iowa. In addition, DMPS will conduct internal evaluations to verify completion of objectives, measure progress toward goals, and identify areas of improvement. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from staff and students. Qualitative measurements include number of online classes taken by students, equipment acquired, and student and teacher demographics. The program will also solicit feedback from students and staff through satisfaction surveys. Data and outcomes will be reported to the Department of Education as required by the grant guidelines and as a final evaluation.
Benefits to Students
Online learning allows curriculum to be differentiated to reach students for whom technology matches their preferred learning style. Online course offerings are also available at multiple ability levels; online courses are available for both struggling and advanced students. Online courses also provide the opportunity for students to recover course credits needed for graduation.
Original Grant Documentation