Virtual Learning

To prepare our students for success in the 21st century, we must change the way we support our teachers and students.  To transform education for the 21st century, we need to rethink learning, rethink schools, and take advantage of all of the resources available to us.

Statewide Initiatives

Innovation Powered by Technology Model Schools

Pleasant View Elementary School receives funds to transform education.

At a surprise news conference on May 7, 2012 at the Pleasant View Elementary School, in Providence, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist announced that the school was the recipient of the first Rhode Island Innovation Powered by Technology Model School Grant.

The $470,000 grant financed a plan that educators at the Pleasant View Elementary School developed to redesign the school and transform its instructional practices through the use of technology.

With this grant, Pleasant View Elementary School:

  • Kids on laptopsimplemented an extended daily schedule for targeted, small-group learning;
  • increased student-centered instruction and instructional time;
  • allowed students to spend at least half their school day with online learning;
  • made content come alive with integrated multimedia experiences through technology;
  • allowed students to proceed with learning at their own pace;
  • adopted flexible schedules for instructional time; and
  • redefined “classrooms” as “flexible learning environments.”

Pleasant View used these funds for extensive professional development for teachers as well as to purchase equipment – creating three computer labs and purchasing 110 laptops for student use.

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Featured Videos

Rhode Island Classroom: 
PVE School

What is
Blended Learning?


Wakefield Hills Elementary School Awarded Second Rhode Island Model School Grant


As part of an on-going commitment to advancing the use of technology and digital learning in Rhode Island schools, Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist visited the Wakefield Hills Elementary School, in West Warwick, on September 4, 2013.  Wakefield Hills was the recipient of the 2nd Rhode Island Innovation Powered by Technology Model School Grant.

Wakefield Hills is using the $80,000 grant to provide Chromebooks for all students and adults in the school. In addition, the school is providing professional development for staff members and community members, including an online webinar series that will help educators integrate technology and instruction, two full days of face-to-face training to orient staff members and students to the new technology, and training for a cadre of students in grades 3 and 4 who will serve as student trainers and mentors for younger children in the school.

Students can take home the Chromebooks, and parents will have the opportunity to use the devices. In addition, the school has established partnerships that will provide parents with free access to adult computer-literacy classes. 

 “Use of this technology will provide another resource to help develop 21st-century skills such as creativity, collaboration, and communication,”  said Karen Tarasevich, Superintendent of Schools in West Warwick. “These steps include supports for teachers, students, and family meetings regarding the computers and our goals for the project. We are grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to the wide range of possibilities it will provide our students, staff, and families.”

Through a competitive-bid process, RIDE awarded the first grant to the Pleasant View Elementary School, in Providence. Wakefield Hills had the second-highest ranked application, and Commissioner Gist told West Warwick school officials that RIDE would seek additional funds for a grant to support the Wakefield Hills proposal. Despite losing out on the first round of funding, the team at Wakefield Hills put elements of its proposal into practice, including developing technology policies and professional development, which the school has shared with other districts across the state. 


Blended Learning Charter Schools

Blended Learning Charter Schools

There are two new blended learning charter schools in Rhode Island.  Both schools - Sheila C. "Skip" Nowell Leadership Academy Charter School and Village Green Charter School - opened their doors in September 2013.

The Nowell Leadership Academy aims to provide a blend of support to at-risk high school students - especially teenagers who are young mothers and fathers.  The school offers a different kind of pathway to 160 students including 85 students who are either pregnant or parenting.  The school was designed to accommodate students who can benefit from a flexible schedule, rigorous academic standards and some special wrap-around services.

The Village Green is a high school which uses a blended learning model of online curriculum and in-classroom teaching.  Students are in class working with teachers about 40% of the time and online or in advisory and reading groups the other 60%.  Teachers specialize in data analysis and skill gap intervention and students learning at their own pace in a very technology rich environment.  The individual-rotational blended learning model (pg. 11-12) closely resembles Carpe Diem's blended learning model with some differences.

8th Grade Technology Literacy

Eighth Grade Technology Literacy

Each year students in the eighth grade take the 21st Century Skills Assessment to determine proficiency.

Technology Literacy Assessment

Innovation Powered by Technology Conferences

2014 Innovation Powered by Technology Conference 

October 25, 2014 - Registration is now open!

2013 Innovation Powered by Technology Conference: Cultivating Quality 

The October 2013 statewide conference brought over 700 educators, school leaders, students, and community members together to connect on systemic planning around the effective use of technology and digital learning!  Read more about it!

Free Online Math Resources

Virtual Learning Math Modules (VLMM)

A series of short web-based modules that focus on the development of foundational math skills in the areas of pre-algebra, algebra I and geometry are available to all RI students and their families. These web-based mathematic modules are designed to address individual student skill gaps and are aligned to the Common Core Standards. 

TenMarks - Summer Math Program

TenMarks Summer Math Program is designed to guide students through a personalized curriculum that meets their specific needs, helping them practice and master concepts with built-in instruction, and real-time intervention.  Designed for the Common Core (CCSS) math standards, every TenMarks’ assignment ensures students build a strong conceptual foundation, improve problem-solving skills, and gain math confidence.

Kahn Academy - Learn Almost Anything for Free

Their mission is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. All of the resources are completely free forever, regardless of whether you're a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology.

Virtual Learning Program Rubric

As virtual teaching and learning becomes more deeply integrated into curricula, it is important to assess the quality and rigor of virtual programs.  RIDE, in concert with representatives from New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and the Northeast Comprehensive Center, worked to develop the Virtual Learning Program Standards and Rubric to support districts and schools in evaluating the quality and rigor of their virtual programs.  The tools can also be used to provide professional development opportunities for LEAs and school staff and administrators who are interested in implementing Virtual Learning Programs.  

RIDE will pilot the use of the Virtual Learning Program Rubric during the spring of 2014 to test and evaluate the tool.  Various face-to-face and online professional development will provide the opportunity to explain the Rubrics, its advantages and limitations, and ways that the rubric can be used within and LEA.  It is not RIDE’s intention to limit thinking to the parameters of the Rubric or Standards, but rather to provide a framework that will grow and be modified as we grow and expand Virtual Learning Programs in Rhode Island.

Virtual Learning Program Rubric

Planning for Progress: Elements to Consider

A FREE school or district self assessment results report provides detailed information to help inform the following planning questions:

  • For which elements has the school or district already made significant progress?

  • What needs more attention and should be a focus in planning?

  • If not yet prepared to discuss key issues identified within the element, what can be done to increase knowledge and skills in the area?

The resources and research found below support these conversations within schools and districts.

Planning for Progress Elements

Virtual Learning - Planning for Progress

Professional Learning

A substantial amount of research provides solid information about the requirements for effective professional development.  Several frameworks provide good organizers for planning, implementing, and evaluating professional development programs within digital learning transition initiatives.  Technology can extend and enhance professional development opportunities. The resources listed below provide background about the research, frameworks and technology-enabled opportunities, along with lessons learned from successful digital learning initiatives, to inform professional development planning.

RI Professional Learning Resources

Professional Learning Resources

Video Interviews with Professional Development Leaders

Curriculum and Instruction

Digital learning involves significant changes in curriculum and instruction, including in the content students need to learn; in where, when and how teaching and learning take place; in the roles of students and teachers; and in the connections between in-school and out-of-school learning.  The resources for this element provide more information about the changes in curriculum instruction driven by, and required for, a successful digital learning transition.

Curriculum and Instruction Resources and Research

Use of Time

Virtual and blended learning, 24/7 access to educational resources, “flipped classroom” approaches that change how classroom time is used, new roles and collaborative models for teachers, and other technology-enabled changes allow time to be used more effectively for teaching and learning.  This can occur both within and outside the traditional school day.  The resources for this element provide background information and examples about innovative approaches that use students and teachers time differently.

Use of Time Resources and Research

Technology and Infrastructure

A robust, reliable technology infrastructure and readily available connected devices and tools are essential for any digital learning transition, and can be challenging to create and maintain in K-12 schools.  Emerging approaches, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and bring your own device programs are providing new options that are, in many situations, more cost effective.  The resources in this section provide background information and examples of these approaches, along with recommendations for addressing Internet safety and appropriate or responsible use issues.

Technology and Infrastructure Resources and Research

Data and Assessment

Schools have entered the world of “big data, fast data,” with far more information available to inform instruction and management than ever before.  Educators are just beginning to learn to make effective use of the abundant data that is now or will soon be available to them.  The movement to online assessments, including adaptive assessments that provide more detailed information for each student, furthers this trend and will provide new opportunities for data-informed teaching and learning.  The resources for this element provide background about the new assessments and data system, along with examples of how some schools are putting them to good use.

Data and Assessment Resources and Research

Academic Supports

Informal education, community-based education, after-school programs, internships in local businesses and other approaches are being employed in many schools to provide further support to students’ learning and engage students in connecting their in-school experiences with careers, communities and citizenship.  The resources for this element provide information about a wide range of approaches and organizations. 

Academic Supports Resources

Budget and Resources

Digital Learning requires shifts in how schools and districts budget their funding and allocate resources.  It also requires careful long-term planning to consider the total cost of technology, considering technical support, annual licenses, and replacement of out-of-date equipment.  The resources for this element provide information about addressing these complex issues.


Deepening Our Thinking About The Digital Learning Transition

Envisioning Schools in the Year 2020


  • Welcome to the Digital Generation (4:26), from Edutopia, reminds us of all the technological changes since the World Wide Web became widely available less than 20 years ago, and how different our children's lives are as a result.
  • Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner (4:00), from MacArthur Foundation, lets us hear from some of the most influential innovators in digital learning.
  • Join the Digital Learning Revolution (5:55), from Power On Texas, provides an overview of digital learning initiatives in seven districts involved in a digital learning project of the Texas Education Agency. 
  • Isacc Asimov on How Computers Can Revolutionize Education, Interview with Bill Moyers from 1988 (6:59).  The great science and science fiction writer could forsee the digital learning transition that is now taking shape 25 years later.
  • The Future of Learning (7:50) 
    In a rapidly changing world, today’s students must be armed with new knowledge and skills to navigate the complex future that awaits them. They must produce knowledge and learn to work and thrive in an increasingly connected economy. They must think, analyze, collaborate and act. Because our current structures are not built for this purpose, we must “unthink school to rethink learning.”
  • Future Learning Short Documentary (12:51) 
    Students are the future, but what's the future for students? To arm them with the relevant, timeless skills for our rapidly changing world, we need to revolutionize what it means to learn. Education innovators like Dr. Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at MIT; Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean of Education at UCSF, are redefining how we engage young minds for a creatively and technologically-advanced future. Which of these educators holds the key for unlocking the learning potential inside every student?
  • Big Thinkers: Sasha Barab (10:40)
    Edutopia's Big Thinker Series features Dr. Sasha Barab, creator of the Quest Atlantis program. Dr. Barab talks about the potential of videogames for immersing learners in rich contexts where they get to apply what they are learning. Unlike most other forms of curriculum, the games they design offer entire worlds in which learners become central, important participants; a place where the actions of a ten-year old can have significant impact on the world; a context in which what you know is directly related to what you are able to do and, ultimately, who you become. In their work, they refer to the underlying pedagogy that informs the design work as transformational play.


  • Innovate to Educate:  System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning, pp 8-16.  This is a report from a 2010 Symposium of education and technology leaders organized by the Software and Information Association, ASCD, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The focus is on creating a personalized learning system for all students.  The table on p. 13 summarizes the contrasts between the current system and a personalized one, and then five essential elements are summarized.
  • Pew Internet Commentary: Teens summarizes findings from a number of studies by the Pew Internet and American Life Project about how teens use technologies, including social networks, online videos, cell phones, etc.  It is a good reminder about the role of these technologies in the lives of our students. 
  • Ten Things Everyone Should Know About K-12 Students' Views on Digital Learning: (1 page summary of the full report)  Project Tomorrow Speak Up 2012 National Research Project Findings.
  • Designing the Future of Learning - 2Revolutions whitepaper describing its philosophy, taxonomy and insights gleaned.

Changing the Culture of Teaching and Learning






Further Information about Changing the Culture of Teaching and LearningDigital Learning: any instructional practice that is effectively using technology to strengthen the student learning experience

School and District Learning Transitions

The following schools and districts have defined their own goals for their digital learning transition and developed strategies for addressing the challenges.  Which ideas might apply in your school?

Public Schools 

District Case Studies - Power on Texas

iNACOL Symposium 2013

iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium 2013 Workshop Resources

Background Information

Rotation Stations

Digital Content Station - Gara

Visit the following web sites and view the videos / presentations. 

Digital Instruction Station - Holly

Analyze various FREE tools available for use in planning for a digital transition.

Collaborative Station - Sharon

  • Blended Learning - How are things going in your school?
    TASK: Short Survey
  • When answering the survey, use the following choices
 Green    We are doing these elements of blended learning well. 
Blue   We know we need to do these elements and are working on strategies to implement.
Red    We have some serious barriers to implementing these elements.

Share your opportunities and barriers with each other.

Contact Information

RI-ASCD 2014

RI-ASCD 11th Annual Pre-service Conference Resources

Saturday February 8, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST
Pre-service (Practicum and Student Teaching) from Salve, URI, RIC, RWU, PC, Brown, J & W, and RISD and Beginning Teachers from around the state are invited to attend this conference.

Using Digital Technology to Enhance Learning  - Holly Walsh

Participants will learn of statewide steps taken to integrate technology as an essential element in the process of customizing learning. National models and trends will be shared as well as lessons learned from RIDE’s conference on Innovation Powered by Technology. Presenters will provide valuable resources to support blended learning.


Rotation Stations


Visit the following web sites to build your understanding of each of the gears in the Project 24 Framework.

DIGITAL Exploration Station

Visit the following web sites and view the videos / presentations. 


  • What is your experience with implementing Blended Learning?
    TASK: Short Survey
  • When answering the survey, use the following choices
 Green    We are doing these elements of blended learning well. 
Blue   We know we need to do these elements and are working on strategies to implement.
Red    We have some serious barriers to implementing these elements.

Learning First Alliance / RI 2014

Learning First Alliance / RI Conference Resources

Saturday, March 8, 2014
Johnston High School

Using Digital Technology to Enhance Learning  - Holly Walsh

Participants will learn of statewide steps taken to integrate technology as an essential element in the process of customizing learning. National models and trends will be shared as well as lessons learned from RIDE’s conference on Innovation Powered by Technology. Presenters will provide valuable resources to support blended learning.



  • What are we already doing?


Planning for a Digital Transition – Project 24 – The Alliance for Excellence in Education

Implementing Blended Learning – Digital Learning Now

Keeping Pace

Blended Learning Models

Cool Tool of the Day