The Tennessee School Boards Association is partnering with Apple Inc. and other state educational organizations to launch the Tennessee Digital Learning Project, a platform to offer new digital resources to high school students, teachers and parents.
The initiative also will help save money for local districts, which invest in textbooks that often become obsolete even before they are distributed to students, according to organizers.
TSBA leaders have been unveiling details about the project at its regional meetings this fall. The launch is scheduled for next spring.
“By utilizing these free, modifiable learning resources, boards can use the textbook money on devices and technology infrastructure,” according to information distributed to school leaders. “The Tennessee Digital Learning Project is designed to help school districts use and share open educational resources, thus helping our teachers as they deliver content in the classrooms.”
The project will use Tennessee teachers to curate materials for the state’s 17 high school courses such as Algebra I, English I and geometry, according to TSBA executive director Tammy Grissom.
“It will be aligned to whatever standards we have at that point in time,” she told a group of West Tennessee school officials at Monday’s regional association meeting in Tipton County.
Grissom said the digital platform will provide access to resources that include “textbooks, lesson plans, videos — whatever materials out there that would help teach that particular course.”
Ultimately, the goal is to equip high school students to interact in a digital world.
“All of our jobs nowadays, everything is online and immediate and up to date,” Grissom told Chalkbeat. “And that’s what we want for our kids. We want all of our kids in the state to be prepared, whether they’re going straight into the workforce or to college, to be able to utilize all resources out there because all of our workplaces use things digitally.”
Next week, TSBA leaders will review applications for the teacher teams, which will consist of 17 groups of up to five teachers each, to develop the digital resources. In November, Apple staff will meet with the teacher teams for two days of training, and the teams will curate materials from December to February. Association leaders hope to launch the resources by April.
Parents, students and teachers can access the project through iTunes U, a dedicated section of Apple’s iTunes Music Store that features educational audio and video files from universities, museums and public media organizations for free download to PCs and mobile devices. Any district that does not use Apple products will be accommodated, Grissom said.
Grissom said a prototype for English III is under development by a team of Knox County educators. She said teachers and partnering organizations are donating their time. “We’re all going to do the work and provide it to systems free of charge,” she said.
Apple is also assisting with the project at no charge, according to Grissom. Other partners include the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, Tennessee Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Tennessee Education Technology Association.