Leveraging digital technologies to enhance your students’ learning can be truly transformational for your district – but doing so is no small feat and requires careful planning. If you are in the process of making key decisions for how your district should be responding to the digital revolution in the world around us, you are probably already wrestling with the following key questions:

  • Why should your district engage in “digital transformation”?
  • What might digitally-rich classrooms look like?
  • What does it take to implement digitally-rich teaching well?
  • What can you do next to get the process started?

In this section you will find some resources, as well as suggested activities, to support your decision-making process and help you gain the needed buy-in from various constituencies.



Leveraging technology to transform teaching practices is a major undertaking for K-12 districts, so it’s important that all constituencies involved – teachers, students, families, school board, etc., have a clear sense of the potential value of your digital initiative, the outcomes they can expect and why those outcomes are valuable.

Here are some resources other schools are finding helpful to accomplish their digital goals:

The Active Learner

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See how today’s students need to be educated differently because of new online learning options open to them, and the technology they use everyday.

Getting inspired by the results of successful digital conversions:

There’s no greater incentive to embark in a resource-intensive innovation than witnessing the gains achieved by other k12 schools.  See how other K-12 districts have indeed achieved impressive outcomes as a result of successful “digital conversion” initiatives.

Project RED Report (2012) : Engage with this seminal report to see the positive results of 1:1 initiatives across school districts.

And to stay connected to Project Red, check out the Project RED website .

Additional inspiring stories about the impact of successful digital conversions:


Developing a common vision of the kinds of teaching we are striving for…

What does digitally-rich teaching and learning really mean for K-12 classrooms?  

As you get started, it’s likely that not many people will know how to respond to this question, or will provide different and limited answers depending on their previous experiences with technology.

It’s essential to develop your own shared image of the kinds of technology-supported learning experiences your district wants to strive for – as this should inform all other decisions and efforts!

The SAMR model provides insights on the different opportunities for student learning that complementary ways of using technology in the classroom may offer.

SAMR Model

[Video: 4 minutes]

See four complementary uses of technology in teaching (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) along with concrete examples of each.

Watching some classroom videos together, and then discussing what everyone values (or not) in them, can be very powerful – especially if the vignettes portray innovative teaching practices and learning experiences that would not have been possible without the technology.

We have found the following short videos from The Teaching Channel particularly useful for this exercise:

Writing Digital Stories

[Video: 10 minutes]

Observe a high school classroom engaging in a unit about the American Creed, where digital tools and digital content enable student engagement and collaboration with primary sources and with each other.

It’s a great example of how technology can be instrumental in transforming teaching practices.

Coding in the Algebra Classroom

[Video: 10 minutes]

See how this teacher leverages computer programming to support students making sense of hard-to-grasp fundamental concepts in algebra

Another great example – this time showing how technology can impact curriculum.

There’s also great value in sharing stories through video of digitally-rich classrooms in your district and other local schools – although it’s resource intensive to create these video vignettes to convey the richness of digitally-rich learning!        


Securing the conditions for future success

Along with examples of successful technology integrations in K-12 schools, there are many more stories of failed attempts.  What can you do to avoid that fate and ensure success?

 Joe Sutorius, the Chief Information Officer at East Irondequoit Central School District, has some deep insights to share in the video, “Key conditions for digital conversion”.

[Video: 3’21”] This video is the excerpt of a presentation by Joe Sutorius, where he identified “after the fact” the factors and conditions that most impacted his district’s successful digital conversion


Suggestions for possible next steps

Here are some recommended actions to get started.

Request a free consultation with staff from the UR Center for Learning in the Digital Age

Every District’s situation is unique – and shared experiences can help with a successful launch. To explore next steps that take into consideration the specific goals and realities of your institution, contact Dave Miller for an exploratory conversation.

Bring your team to our next K-12 Digital Consortium Kick-off Workshop

This half-day free workshop will provide your team with opportunities to network with other schools engaging in technology innovations. You’ll also have the opportunity to discuss implications of workshop activities for your district.  You’ll come away with a great starting point – whether your district ends up deciding to join the K12 Digital Consortium or not.

Visit local digitally-rich schools

There’s nothing like visiting other schools that are engaging in the process! Part of the mission of the K-12 Digital Consortium is to facilitate school visits and exchanges of information with schools that have been successful in integrating technology. We invite you to contact directly any of our Demonstration Site members to arrange a visit at a mutually convenient time.

Visit successful digitally-rich schools across the country

If you have the time and resources, another great value add is to visit nationally recognized schools in the digital conversion space. If interested, consider the following opportunities:

Start small – but strong!

Create some early successes with a pilot approach that involves your most enthusiastic and capable teachers.

Build on these early successes to instill confidence and inspire others.

And leverage the K-12 Digital Consortium to collaboratively gather insights, share challenges, and successfully navigate the issues and opportunities that accompany the digital transformation in your school.