How ready is your school for digital age learning? Building School Capacity

Personally, I find technology exciting not for how it works, but for how it can work for me. In my experience in industry, that meant applying or even inventing technology, to provide business solutions. In education, it means embracing technology to find new ways to  improve learning, teaching, and administration. However, technology is complex and poses challenges for schools that were not previously part of the school eco-system as schools now reach beyond the school boundaries into cloud computing, personal devices with 24/7 access, subscription resources, and a world of choice. While enabling student learning is the ultimate goal, D-LIFE addresses the organisational aspects required for effective teaching and learning in a digital age. While many of the existing international standards and frameworks address student and teacher standards, D-LIFE, like the ISTE Essential Conditions, looks at what is needed at the school organisational  level.

To help school leaders navigate this digital landscape, I began a global research project as my doctoral dissertation to determine the essential criteria for enabling learning in a digital age. The resulting Digital Learning Implementation Framework for Education (D-LIFE) includes these essential criteria agreed upon by educational technology leaders and international education experts around the world. Starting from the literature, the expert panel voted on the essentiality of each criteria, and then proposed new criteria for consideration.


D-LIFE provides a framework to evaluate current levels of implementation, and determine areas where school growth is required. D-LIFE can also be used to guide leaders to ask the questions of other stakeholders, like technicians, parents, and faculty to ensure educational goals remain the priority of technical initiatives.


D-LIFE comprises 10 categories:

  1. Leadership
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Services and Support
  4. Technology Implementation
  5. Policy
  6. Quality and Evaluation
  7. Resources and Resourcing
  8. Learning Environments
  9. Professional Learning
  10. Community Engagement

Each of these categories has between 5 and 33 essential criteria. Using a four point scale of low-high, schools leaders can assess the level of implementation of each criteria and determine appropriate action based on the local context.

Closely aligning with the ISTE Essential Conditions, D-LIFE provides further validation of the ISTE Essential Conditions while offering a practical framework for informing school strategic planning and evaluation, as well as potentially providing accountability measures to evidence the impact of technology investments.

You can download D-LIFE in summary format here. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more about how D-LIFE can be applied in your context.

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