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.

Empowering students to succeed in the 21st Century!

Today, we live in a global economy in which technology, the Internet, the World Wide Web, search engines, hand-held electronic devices, artificial intelligence, gaming, robotics, and social media all provide us with information and resources and put us in touch with people, places, and ideas – instantly, and all the time. Technology has opened access to the world and provided a world of resources for our teachers and students.

Just as our world and our expectations are changing rapidly, the skills our students need to succeed are dramatically different today from what students needed 10 years ago. 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.

RI Virtual LearningImagine if you could step into the future and visit one of our public schools ten years from now. Imagine where our students and teachers will get their information and what resources will support learning. Imagine the ways in which we will personalize learning experiences for each student. Imagine how our students will be able to benefit from digital learning – opening up a nearly infinite number of advanced courses in world languages, sciences, engineering, and the arts. Think about how our schedules could be made more flexible, with instruction available to students at any hour day or night, or on any day.

We are asking all of our educators in Rhode Island to take this imaginary journey into the future – and to bring that vision into our schools today.

Virtual Learning Policy

RIDE is committed to working closely with various stakeholders and agencies to create policy supporting all learners ensuring access to technology; rigorous and engaging online content; customized learning; quality content, instruction and choices; articulation agreements; and resourcing.

Virtual Learning Guidance and Technical Assistance

RI Virtual Learning Concept Map

Empowering Students to Succeed in the 21st Century presentation

Virtual Learning Annual Legislative Report

Empowering Students to Succeed in the 21st Century

Shifting District Technology Policies

Many local district technology policies are being updated to Responsible Use Policies underscoring a cultural shift from compliance to defining expectations and supporting responsible use. Examples of local updated policy: 


Learners in Rhode Island are assured access to quality instruction and learning opportunities through the Virtual Learning Regulations as well as, the Basic Education Program, the Secondary Regulations, Career and Technical Education Regulations, the Rhode Island Teaching Standards and the Education Evaluation Program. The Virtual Learning Regulations complement and enhance existing regulations by promoting students access to quality online learning opportunities as part of each student’s 

pathway.  Below are tools and resources that may be used to aid in the evaluation of content, instruction and programming.  This list will grow as additional resources become available.




Access to Technology: Bandwidth, Infrastructure and Devices

Access to Technology: A Three Legged Stool

The Rhode Island educational landscape is changing greatly as districts and schools implement college and career-ready standards for all students; utilize online assessments to gage comprehension and learning; and deal with constrained school budgets. RIDE has several initiatives to help ensure that students and educators have access to the appropriate technology tools to achieve these goals.

Bandwidth - E-Rate/RITEAF Program

The Rhode Island Telecommunications Access Fund (RITEAF) program is a legislative commitment to ensure that Internet Access is available and affordable for all private and public K-12 schools and all public libraries. The RITEAF program supplements the federal E-Rate program.

Infrastructure - Wireless Classroom Initiative Technology Bond

RIDE, alongside a host of those in our educational community, worked hard to include a technology infrastructure investment in the Governor's budget that provides wireless access to the Internet in every classroom. The Wireless Classroom Initiative technology infrastructure bond provides $20 million to expand wireless access to all classrooms across the state.

Devices - All Inclusive Device Solution

Rhode Island: All Inclusive Device Solution

A All Inclusive Device Solution Handoutmaster price agreement and a memorandum of understanding are in place to provide schools with a bundled technology solution including the technology device and software, support and maintenance and extensive professional development opportunities.  The agreement includes flexible leasing options that are designed to meet district financing needs.  

All LEAs and schools, including charter schools, CTE Centers and school, state operated schools and collaboratives are able to opt-in to this opportunity.

All Inclusive Device Solution Handout [PDF, 405KB]

Master Price Agreement for All Inclusive Device Solution [PDF, 2.6MB]

Our partners, CDW-G, will be able to assist with every step along the way.  Contact Henry Velosa at (203) 215-9599 or

Statewide Initiatives

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 is 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 will:

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

Pleasant View will use 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.

 Request a Visit

Featured Videos

Rhode Island Classroom: 
PVE School

What is
Blended Learning?

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.

Eighth Grade Technology Literacy

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

Technology Literacy Assessment

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!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • 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.






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

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 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 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 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