ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Digital teaching and learning in North Carolina is getting a boost from $1.15 million in grants to Rowan-Salisbury Schools and 12 school districts and charter schools during the 2022-23 school year to fund innovative improvement initiatives.
The State Board of Education approved the 13 proposals through the sixth round of competitive grants under the state’s Digital Learning Initiative. The state-funded grants support the development and dissemination of local innovative digital learning models. The goal of the grant program is to have effective digital learning practices spread across all North Carolina K-12 public schools.
Rowan-Salisbury Schools is the recipient of a $49,000 grant. This grant promotes Design Thinking based spaces to be provided in all schools while designing lessons and professional development. Dissemination of information will be in a variety of ways, through movies, podcasts, and handouts.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt congratulated the grantees for their proposals that will contribute to the state’s continuing efforts to develop digital-age tools and approaches for more effective teaching and learning.
“This program rewards districts and schools for their initiative and the strength of their ideas,” Truitt said. “The money may come from Raleigh, but the creative energy comes from educators in schools across the state.”
Since 2017, the competitive Digital Learning Initiative grants have supported districts as they address challenges, harness opportunities and leverage resources for digital-age teaching and learning. By creating hubs of innovation across the state that model digital leadership and that support educators in their professional growth, students benefit from improved access to highly qualified educators and opportunities.
Grants were awarded for the 2022-23 school year in three different categories: one-year mini-grants of up to $50,000 for emerging technologies; one-year mini-grants of up to $30,000 for professional learning focusing on the state’s digital learning competencies and standards and three-year digital learning impact grants of up to $95,000 per year to support planning, implementation and assessment of a digital learning initiative.
Among the six districts awarded mini-grants for emerging technologies are proposals that include a STEM-focused van to travel among the district’s K-8 schools for two-to-three week visits, promotion of Design Thinking, the purchase of makerspaces, and the use of VR headsets to provide students with the opportunity to visit culturally diverse locations to strengthen respect and value for varied cultures.
Four districts receiving mini grants for professional learning will focus on efforts that include strengthening digital learning competencies and standards, blended learning and certification from the International Society for Technology in Education.
Among the three districts awarded three-year impact grants, one will pilot a literacy and Lego program for third and fourth-grade students across the district to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills while exploring complex problems. The focus of one of the other recipient districts is to transform grades 6-8 media centers into makerspaces to develop more collaborative spaces within each building to foster learning and creation for all students.
The grant initiative was authorized in 2016 by the General Assembly as part of collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University to advance the state’s Digital Learning Plan. The goal of that plan is to develop a long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.
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