Five recommendations are key to advancing digital learning.

On the heels of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative launch, the bipartisan Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission released a five-point blueprint outlining specific actions to accelerate the expansion of K-12 digital learning.

At the same time as the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission noted a need to determine how technology can transform K-12 education, the LEAD Commission has for more than one year worked with more than 300 ed-tech thought leaders to identify barriers that currently hamper digital learning in the U.S., and the necessary steps to overcome those barriers.

“As a country, we must make digital learning a national priority for every child to have access to the same high-quality 21st century learning tools – regardless of zip code,” said LEAD Commissioner and Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “This is not and should not be a partisan issue – it’s a matter of doing what’s best for the future of our country by investing in the digital learning resources that allow teachers and students to remain globally competitive.”

The LEAD Commission’s blueprint details key research findings and calls for a major national initiative to accelerate the implementation of digital learning and ed-tech in America’s education system.

(Next page: The five steps)

The LEAD Commission’s five-point blueprint calls on the federal, state, local, private, and charitable sectors to consider and put into practice the following recommendations for digital learning and ed-tech.

Solve the infrastructure challenge by updating the wiring of schools: “The most immediate and expensive barrier to implementing technology in education is inadequate high-speed internet connectivity in the classrooms. While today’s schools are wired, they generally do not have the bandwidth they need to meet the demands of 21st century learning.” Modernizing the federal eRate program, the authors note, is one way to progress.

Build a national effort to deploy devices: The group outlines a national four-step initiative in order to surmount this obstacle and place devices in all students’ hands by 2020.

Accelerate the adoption of digital curriculum: “We must develop safe, effective and efficient ways for teachers, school principals, school districts and state leaders to evaluate and purchase comprehensive, high quality digital learning products,” according to the report. The authors recommend that state and district purchasing cycles evolve to the digital age, suggest creating an independent certification program for curriculum and solutions, and recommend increasing innovation and research funds.

Embrace and encourage model schools: “We need our private, public and philanthropic sectors to commit to fund model schools to create Petri dishes of innovation,” the authors write. “It will be critical for these model schools to broadly share and disseminate best practices and coordinate amongst funding sources, which LEAD can help facilitate.”

Invest in human capital: “Digital learning is not about ‘one to one’ learning between a student and a device; it is about “one to one to one” learning between a teacher, a student and a device,” according to the report.

“As long as our schools remain in an education model that is fundamentally unchanged since the 19th century, we risk remaining stagnant as other countries surge ahead in educational performance,” said LEAD Commissioner and Co-Founder of TPG Capital Jim Coulter. “We’re eager to join the collective effort and growing political support, as seen with President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, to pave the way for expanded digital learning access in America.”