On Wednesday, the Department of Education released a letter outlining how states and districts can leverage existing federal funds provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to support digital learning for students and educators. The examples provided by the department are not meant to be comprehensive but are meant to reaffirm that funds from many federal education programs may be used to facilitate digital age learning and teaching.
There are various opportunities to use federal funds to provide access to digital materials. For example, states and districts can use ESEA Title II, Part A funds to help educators find, use and share new content. Districts may also use ESEA Title III, Part A funds to obtain digital resources and software to help English learners.
There are also ways to use federal funds to purchase the devices that open the door to digital learning and collaboration. For instance, districts can use ESEA Title I, Part A funds to purchase devices (as well as curriculum and professional development) as part of an overall plan in a Title I schoolwide program school, such as a transition to blended or personalized learning. Using funds from IDEA, Part B, districts can obtain assistive technology devices and services for students as outlined in their individualized education program (IEP).
Additionally, there are chances to use federal funds to provide professional learning opportunities and encourage collaboration and communication among educators and parents. States and districts can use ESEA Title II, Part A funds to provide professional learning opportunities in the form of blended learning, MOOCs, online communities of practice and online conferences. As well, districts may use Title III, Part A funds to provide online professional learning and share digital materials to improve teaching practices for educators of English learners.
These are only a few examples outlined by the department. Check out the letter for additional information and the contact information of U.S Department of Education staff.