The federal government has an important leadership role to play in building a national infrastructure for learning. For example, the Office of Educational Technology should help states and districts build their capacity by providing a clearinghouse that matches expert advice and services with those who need it.
Figure 3 illustrates the comprehensive nature of integrated software services needed for 21st century learning experiences and that can be delivered from the cloud.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element of an infrastructure for learning. OER come in forms ranging from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks, games, and courses. They are freely available to anyone over the web.
Goal: All students and educators will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning when and where they need it.
As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our education system at all levels, this creates both the need and opportunity for educators who are skilled in online instruction and the demand for greater knowledge of the most effective practices. As we implement online learning, we should make sure that students’ learning experiences address the full range of expertise and competencies as reflected in standards and use meaningful assessments of the target competencies.
The model of 21st century learning described in this plan depends on effective teaching to provide all learners with equitable access to inspiring and engaging learning experiences. Research shows that consistent access to effective teaching dramatically increases learning, closes achievement gaps, and increases chances for success later in life (Sanders & Rivers, 1996; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997).
A transformative idea in the preparation and professional learning of educators and education leaders is to leverage technology to create career-long personal learning networks within and across schools, pre-service preparation and in-service educational institutions, and professional organizations. The goal of these career-long personal learning networks would be to make professional learning timely and relevant as well as an ongoing activity that continually improves practices.