SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Digital Learning Task Force, created by the Legislature to form a plan for bringing technology into Utah classrooms, will employ a California-based consulting firm to help develop the plan, state education leaders announced Friday.
The plan will include guiding principles for implementing a student technology program in each school, including infrastructure, technical support, professional learning for teachers, security and privacy, and other requirements.
David Thomas is co-chairman of the Utah State Board of Education and chairman of the 12-member Utah Digital Learning Task Force, which includes educators, technology experts and lawmakers. He said the task force decided to seek help from a consulting firm that has been involved in implementing successful technology programs in other areas.
Common Sense Education, which has offices in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., was chosen among several applicants because it had "the best qualifying proposal and the best price," Thomas said.
The contract was valued at $68,110.
Utah has been in the process of developing a statewide school technology program for several years. This year, the Legislature voted not to fund a $75 million initiative to put devices in every school. Instead, lawmakers created the task force to assess Utah's technology needs and present a plan for consideration next year.
Thomas said the task force will present the plan to the State School Board in October and to the Legislature's Education Interim Committee in November.
"We already have a lot of groundwork that's been laid over the last three years," he said. "So now we're moving from there to the actual putting together the plan."
Education leaders anticipate that when a final plan is approved by lawmakers, charter schools and districts will be able to access the funds through ongoing qualifying grants. Some details, such as whether schools will be required to put up matching funds to receive the grants, are still undecided.
"A technology initiative isn't about the device. It has to be much more than that if it's going to succeed. It has to be changing the culture, changing the way we teach. It's not a replacement for the teacher. It is, in fact, an enhancement, a tool for the teacher," Thomas said. "All those kinds of things are a part of this and have to be a part of the plan."
Thomas said teachers are encouraged to provide input on the plan through the task force's website, www.uen.org/digital-learning.
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