Board Hears Recommendations from Instructional Technology Task Force

LOS ANGELES (June 24, 2016) – The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education received a list of recommendations last week resulting from a year-long collaboration among educators, students, parents, technical staff, and community members on the future of instructional technology in L.A. Unified. The Instructional Technology Task Force – assembled last year by former superintendent Ramon C. Cortines – met regularly over the past fourteen months to identify promising practices in leveraging digital to support the District’s educational goals.

“It is an honor to bring forward the results of authentic collaboration among parents, teachers, students, and community leaders,” said Superintendent Michelle King. “These individuals gave up their time to come together frequently to share their thinking in what has been a principle-driven multidisciplinary team approach to shaping a technology-supported instructional vision for our district.”

The District’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Frances Gipson, who chairs the task force, presented a report outlining six key recommendations, serving as a framework to guide instructional practice in leveraging digital tools for teaching and learning and inform decision-making about instructional practices and technology infrastructure investment.

Key among the recommendations was an investment in a learning management system (LMS), online software that educators can use to deliver and share digital content with students. An LMS can enhance teaching practice by facilitating communication and collaboration around lessons and classroom assignments with students, parents, and other teachers. Teachers can also use the LMS to provide real time feedback on an assignment or a student’s general progress in a course.

In her presentation, Gipson spoke of the value of online tools for adult learning, as well as student learning.

“An LMS presents the opportunity for learner agency—where learners can be both consumers and creators of knowledge,” Gipson said as she presented the task force recommendations. “When we say learner agency, we are talking about personalized learning opportunities for all learners, including students, teachers, principals, and parents.”

Gipson indicated that the task force had achieved an important milestone, as their report was the first to incorporate a new version of standards crafted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) while also aligning the 2015 National Educational Technology Plan.

Gipson spoke about the importance of modeling evolving practices as part of the effort to introduce educators, parents, and students to new methods for sharing educational content. The task force used an online tool called Scalar, an open source digital publishing platform used by the task force to promote understanding of each recommendation with multimedia content. Modeling use of Scalar was part of the team’s strategy to promote digital literacy among educators and communities.

“Instructional technology is part of who we are, and we have embraced it through a personalized approach that amplifies the agency of all of our learners,” she said. “We look forward to building upon the diverse thinking of our district to meet the many needs of our many diverse learners. It is no longer about the tool, but how the tool can personalize the learning.”

The task force expects to reconvene in the coming year to guide implementation of the report’s recommendations.