Much like elsewhere in the country, Utah Governor Spencer Cox and State Superintendent of Education Sydney Dickson announced school buildings would be closing due to the pandemic on Friday, March 13, 2020. By the following Tuesday, schools across Utah were ready to start delivering instruction online. This was largely due to the Digital Teaching and Learning Grant Program, launched in 2016, that provided funding to support local leaders’ investments in software and professional learning to bolster digital instruction. The grant program created the infrastructure for digital learning in Utah and built buy-in from local leaders by allowing flexibility for local leaders.
In this panel from CCSSO’s Legislative Conference in March 2023, Superintendent Dickson, Utah State Board of Education Chief of Staff Sarah Young and Odyssey Charter School Assistant Director Brooke Austin discuss how Utah was able to grow the program and create more delivery models. The number of devices in Utah schools grew from 360,000 to 880,000 between 2016 and 2021, thanks to the diligent work of the Digital Teaching and Learning Grant Program to increase access to devices and professional learning for educators. The story of the Digital Learning Grant Program illustrates how to change behaviors at scale, an element of the Coherence Lab Framework.