The Evolution of Digital Learning

The Evolution of Digital Learning

Where were you in 2008? Let me remind you of a few highlights in 2008: It was a leap year. We lost Batman’s “Joker” Heath Ledger (age 28) and legendary Paul Newman (age 83). New York Giants won the Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Phillies took the World Series. Beijing held the Summer Olympics where US swimmer Michael Phelps set the record for number of gold medals. Barack Obama was elected president. Congress bailed out the three big automobile makers. OJ Simpson finally went to jail (for attempting to retrieve memorabilia at gunpoint in Las Vegas).

In 2008, I was overseeing millions of dollars in grant funds as the High School Reform Coordinator, helping to build Small Learning Communities in eight of the forty-two high schools in Clark County School District, directing the District Curriculum Commission, and creating a blended learning Driver Education Teacher Certification program for the state of Nevada. It was also the year I was talked into coaching two youth soccer teams for my daughters. So much for reminiscing.

This week iNACOL released a white paper titled, Blended Learning: The Evolution of Online and Face-to-Face Education from 2008-2015. It was in 2008 iNACOL fully endorsed and embraced, as the first version of iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, the work of Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Online Teaching Evaluation for State Virtual Schools. The”Evolution” whitepaper references Clay Christensen research that formally defined blended learning and the various models learning. Then uses several Proof Points of Blended Learning in School Districts, research from Evergreen Education Group, and other implementation models across the nation – like the Clark County School District, to highlights the growth of blended learning over time.

The “Evolution” document concludes with four blended learning lessons learned:

  1. CREATE a school culture and climate dedicated to continuous improvement.
  2. DEFINE blended learning goals and benefits.
  3. EXAMINE and update professional development needs.
  4. ADDRESS both system- and school-level barriers to implementation.

I could not agree more. My journey into online and blended learning actually started in 2000, building an online 8th grade math class and hosting weekly webinars with students in need to recover credits so they could move into high school. Little did I know at that time that online and blended learning would evolve and I too would grow with it from online teacher, instructional designer, virtual school administrator, to district manager of online learning systems, district-level course development, and professional development programs for teachers and administrators.

It all started with a continuous culture and climate toward improvement. Moving to defining goals with a vision of a future that embraced digital learning as a new pedagogical approach to redesign the instructional model of the classroom. Lastly a desire to create an environment where both students and staff could succeed by implementing high quality professional development.

Let’s end with a quote from the iNACOL document:

“Professional development needs to quickly evolve to model best practices for blended learning, allowing teachers to experience blended, personalized learning themselves.” page 16

At i3DigitalPD, we believe the first step to becoming a highly effective online or blended teacher is to be a student in a quality online learning environment. Our courses not only provide quality online instruction, they also model smart online content design, supporting teachers in creating their own online or blended learning environments. Let us help you evolve.


Image source: “The Canyon” by Photophilde on