What are the Digital Learning Competencies?

The Digital Learning Competencies (DLCs) are skills that teachers and leaders should integrate into their practice in order to create an effective digital learning environment.
The content of the competencies was informed by national models such as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) teaching standards, International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and the North Carolina Logic Model created in 2013 as a result of HB 23. More than fifty educators from around North Carolina took these models and identified important components and personalized the content in order to make these specific to the teachers and students in North Carolina.

The competencies are organized into four focus areas: Leadership in Digital Learning, Digital Citizenship, Digital Content and Instruction, and Data and Assessment. Each Focus Area has been aligned to the Professional Teaching Standards with a subset of competencies that help to explain and ‘unpack’ the Focus Area. For each competency, an example has been given to help introduce one possible way that competency might be implemented.

Why were the Digital Learning Competencies developed?

In 2013, the North Carolina Legislature passed House Bill 23. This bill called on the State Board of Education to develop digital teaching and learning competencies that would “provide a framework for schools of education, school administrators, and classroom teachers on the needed skills to provide high-quality, integrated digital teaching and learning.”

The passage of this law reflects the changing nature of schools in North Carolina and nationwide. Technology is no longer an extraneous part of how some students learn but a necessity for all students as they move from K-12 schools to college and career. As the technology available to students and in North Carolina schools changes, the way educators approach teaching and learning must also adapt. These competencies provide teachers and administrators with a framework for making those changes.

When will the digital learning competencies be implemented?

The DLCs went into effect July 1, 2017.

How will I be expected to use them?

It is critically important for educators to stay current on changing technology and teaching practices. Teachers will use the digital learning competencies to inform classroom practice and support professional growth in digital teaching and learning.

Administrators will interact with two sets of Digital Learning Competencies: one for administrators and one for teachers. Principals will apply the Digital Learning Competencies for Administrators to their own practice to model and support those in their buildings. The administrator competencies will also help guide principals as they make decisions regarding important elements such as professional development and curriculum. Finally, principals will use The Digital Learning Competencies for Teachers as "look fors" when they administer the teacher evaluation instrument and will use them to inform teacher professional development plans.

District leaders should use the Digital Learning Competencies to inform the content of the district’s professional development offerings for educators. Additionally, district administrators will provide support to teachers and school leaders by modeling and offering assistance.

This sounds like another mandate… how is it different?

The competencies were designed to help support educators’ professional development. By giving specific examples and aligning resources, the goal is that teachers will be able to get a clear understanding of what digital learning is, how it can look in the classroom, and how a teacher might take first steps to implementing. In this age, using technology in the classroom is no longer an option, but is a necessity in order to get students ready for college and career. Additionally, the Digital Learning Competencies were designed with input from many teachers, administrators, and leaders across North Carolina.

What can I expect from the digital learning competencies in the future?

Just as technology changes rapidly, the competencies will likely be continually updated both in terms of content and implementation.

However, the future is uncertain. In several years these ideally will become so integrated into effective teaching practice that there will no longer be a need to call attention to these - digital teaching and learning will become the norm.

Why should the DLCs be important to me?

The Digital Learning Competencies help identify the digital-age skills that educators need to help prepare today’s students. Teachers and administrators may already be demonstrating some or all of these competencies in their day-to-day practices, but this focus on the DLCs can help determine areas of strength and improvement in professional practice. With this continuous improvement mindset, school and district leaders can be strategic in identifying digital leaders and in personalizing professional growth opportunities.

How can I be sure to maximize the impact of the professional learning in which I participate?

Research on professional development typically finds that stand-alone technology training may not be as meaningful as blended opportunities that align with content or are integrated into professional practices. The impact of any professional learning opportunity should be reflected in how it will be implemented in your classroom or school.

How do I know if the professional learning I complete will allow me to earn a DLC CEU?

Each school district or charter school is responsible for identifying and approving credit that will count towards your renewal requirements. Professional learning that is aligned with a Digital Learning Competency Focus Areas may be considered eligible for educators to earn a CEU in this area. Please check with your school district and follow their guidance for earning DLC CEUs.

Can a teacher or administrator design his/her own DLC Credit?

Personalizing your professional growth is important! Work with your school district and school administrators to better understand the guidelines your district uses for identifying and approving CEU offerings. Follow their guidance for earning DLC CEUs.

For example, check with your district about its protocols for leading or participating in opportunities like Twitter chats for credit.

Who counts as a “teacher” in this DLC licensure requirement?

This policy includes educators who meet the NC definition of “teacher” and includes instructional support personnel.

Are there state-level online courses available?

Districts may opt to offer online courses that were developed by the Department of Public Instruction. If districts do opt to use the state developed content, then follow your district or charter schools guidelines for participation.

Is it possible for previously earned credits to count toward the DLC licensure renewal requirements?

It is up to your school district to determine if credits that you have previously earned in this renewal cycle could be identified as a DLC CEU credit. Like any credit you may earn, this professional learning should be aligned with the DLCs and be within this renewal cycle.

How does this requirement for DLCs fit with my school improvement practices or goals?

DLCs are not intended to be stand-alone skills but should be incorporated into core content and best practices for schools and classrooms. The DLCs may have an impact on student engagement, improvement, achievement if blended into professional practice.

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