Making Computer Science Accessible to All

The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is continuing to post a weekly blog on online and blended learning topics. The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) is an association of the chiefs of some of the most innovative virtual programs in the US. Consisting largely of leading state virtual schools, and several outstanding consortia ( The member organizations serve well over a quarter of a million online course enrollments annually. Idaho Digital Learning has been a member since its inception and takes the lead in many of the organization work groups.

The latest blog is “Making Computer Science Accessible to All,” from Idaho Digital Learning. If you are interested in following along as all partner states share their knowledge of elearning, subscribe by provide your name and email.

Here is an excerpt from the post…

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that computer science-related jobs will be among the fastest growing and highest paying over the next decade. A large majority of parents (84%), teachers (71%), principals (66%) and superintendents (65%) agree that offering Computer Science is more important or just as important as required core courses like math, science, history and English. A majority of educators feel that students should be required to take Computer Science in schools when it is available (60% of teachers, 62% of principals and 56% of superintendents agree).[1] Yet a recent analysis of national data shows that 22 percent of 12th graders say they’ve never taken a computer science course and more than half of all high school seniors do not have access to computer science in their school.[2]

Online learning programs, such as Idaho Digital Learning, are tackling the problem of providing access to computer science for all students in Idaho. In 2014 the Idaho State Board of Education and House Education Committee approved a rule change that allows students to take dual credit or AP computer science as core math or science credit versus as an elective credit – providing an incentive for students to explore the field of Computer Science. In addition, there are other innovative virtual school statewide online learning programs throughout the nation that are providing students with opportunities. For example, as part of a statewide initiative to make computer science available throughout every high school, the Arkansas Governor requested that Virtual Arkansas make online Computer Science available, free, to all schools throughout the state.

To find out more of what Idaho Digital learning is doing to provide Computer Science education, continue reading the complete blog post at

Idaho Digital Learning Middle and High School Health Curriculum

The health courses offered by Idaho Digital Learning for both Middle and High School are based on the foundational concept of health and wellness that is illustrated by the Health Triangle: Physical, Mental/Emotional, and Social Health. This concept reveals the interwoven relationship of these three aspects of a person’s health; and emphasizes that what happens in each area, impacts all others.

Our courses provide instruction relating to mental/emotional health, social health, and physical health. Units target nutrition, fitness, hygiene, and how lifestyle choices in these areas have a direct and profound impact on a person’s health. Other units target how to build and maintain good relationships, communication skills, conflict resolution, and decision making.

Mental health, stress, and coping strategies are covered in the curriculum; and risk taking behaviors identified, as well as ways to lower risks that impact aspects of health and wellness. Basic First Aid Skills, and facts about infectious disease, STD’s, and non-infectious disease are included in the curriculum. Finally, facts regarding substance abuse as it relates to alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and tobacco products are presented.

The main difference between high school and middle school health courses are these: Middle School Health includes one lesson in every unit that covers one body system; like cardiovascular, respiratory, and the immune system. There is a greater emphasis given to direct instruction on risk taking and types of risks in middle school. The thought behind this is that if students can learn to identify risks early in their development, they will have the skills and information they need to make better choices and avoid unnecessary risks.

Middle School Health has an emphasis on puberty, while High School Health emphasizes refusal skills, contraceptives, and pregnancy. Both have some content on STD’s, with a greater emphasis in the High School Health course. Content is presented in age appropriate ways in each course.

Cool Tools: Content & Interactivities

Cool Tools logoIdaho Digital Learning’s Cool Tools Blog Series wraps up with content and interactivity resources for all subjects. As an added bonus we have included resources specific to Social Studies, Humanities, Math and Science. We hope you have found this useful and informative. Be looking for future resource series.

Social Studies & Humanities



  • BiomodelChemistry and Biology Interactives.  Can be run on a tablet if “Jsmol” option is selected.
  • The Physics AviaryA free collection of games, tools and virtual labs for physics.
  • Code.orgUse free curriculum to teach students to problem solve, code,  and apply creative thinking within the context of science or math.  For further PD using curriculum visit the Idaho Digital Learning PD Portal.
  • NASASearchable database of lesson content and activities.
  • ChemCollective Murder MysteryStudents play an Flash based free “murder mystery” game using their chemistry skills.  Complete with teacher resources and Interactive movies and clues to guide students along.
  • Kinetic CityInteractive Science simulations and games (good for Grades 1-6)  Check out the Nastro Virus!
  • Seer Training ModulesAnatomy/Physiology training modules from the National Cancer Institute.  Complete with graphics and quizzes.

Cool Tools: Assessment & Collaboration

Cool Tools logoIdaho Digital Learning’s Cool Tools Blog Series continues. This month we’ll be focusing on assessment and collaboration tools for any and all subjects.

  • Jeopardy Rocks – With this tool you are able to create a jeopardy game. Example
  • EdPuzzle – Add videos that give the ability to pause to insert teacher questions.
  • Blabberize – This is a fun tool that adds audio to images, making them speak.
  • Poll Everywhere – This is an instant polling tool. Smart phones or devices are required.
  • Answer Garden – Create a live poll where answers are returned in Wordle format. Example
  • MathEqualsLove Blog – Free Exit Ticket templates. Good for K-12.
  • Fakebook – This tool creates fake Facebook feeds. An unusual format for allow students to “show what they know”. Example
  • GoFormative – This site provides assignments so you can see what students are doing in real-time and provide feedback. Demo
  • Tozzl – This tool is similar to a shared Pinterest board for safe collaboration. No registration required. Only students with link and a password (provided by the teacher) can use.
  • Padlet – A content creation and collaboration space.
  • Google Apps – Share with emails on version and allow people to contribute instead of creating multiple variations of the same item.

Cool Tools: Study & Tech Tools

Cool Tools logoIdaho Digital Learning’s Cool Tools Blog is the beginning of what we hope will be a valuable set of digital tools. These resources cover a wide variety of information on assessment, collaboration and content, and focus on specific content areas, which include Math, Science, Social Studies and Humanities. First up, Study & Tech Tools!

Study Tools

  • Video Notes – All notes you type are synced with the video and time tag. Here is a demo of a Final Product.
  • Ninja Words – Ninja Words offers fast dictionary look up that guesses what you probably wanted if you accidentally spell the word wrong.
  • Creative Commons Attribution Examples – This site has examples of how to correctly attribute OER Resources.
  • Photos for Class – Photos for Class has an OER photo search that appends the attribution to the image when you download it.
  • Bibme – Bibme is a free online citation builder. Students can use this to help build their annotated bibliographies.
  • Google News Lab – Google News Lab is a Google tool specifically designed for journalists.
  • instaGrok – instaGrok is an interactive search engine that presents students with information by topic in multiple media formats. Students can take notes, journal, and even take a quiz on the content.
  • Wolfram Alpha – Part search engine, part calculator.

Tech Tools

Stay tuned for our next Cool Tools Blog: Content Tools

Idaho Digital Learning Professional Development Virtual Support

Our Idaho Digital Learning Professional Development team has launched a new Idaho Digital Learning monthly virtual support, called #OffroadPD, with strategies, videos, and resources for blended and online learning that support instructional technology integration. These support documents have been inspired by common questions and needs that our team has collected from our work with schools and districts around the state.  

Each month you will find an #OffroadPD Youtube video that will introduce the topic. Within the description of the video, you will find a link to a support document with a variety of resources for you to explore.

We would like to invite you and your team to join us in our Google+ Community, where we have an area dedicated to #OffroadPD virtual monthly supports, a place to connect with others around the state, and a place to ask questions to a community of educators who are incorporating blended and/or mastery learning into their classroom. Please feel free to share with any educator, who might benefit from this collaboration. Check it out here!

Starting February 1st, we will have a technology integration tip of the day posted in our Idaho Digital Learning Professional Development G+ Community.

Join us on Youtube and Twitter!

We are excited to share these resources with you all!

Feature Presentation


Archived Virtual Support ​

January #OffroadPD Video –
January Virtual Support – Blended/Mastery

December #OffroadPD Video –
December Virtual Support – Blended/Mastery

November #OffroadPD Video –
November Virtual Support – Blended/Mastery

Pathways to College and Career with Idaho Digital Learning

Pathway to SuccessBy Jeff Simmons

Idaho Digital Learning has worked hard to create college and career pathways for students by leveraging new and existing partnerships with colleges, universities, and career-technical programs. Middle school and high school courses focused on college and career readiness are also offered to students throughout the state to help them identify and prepare for the next step of their journey.

Preparation for college and career begins at an early age! Idaho Digital Learning currently provides courses such as Keyboarding, Pathways to Success, and Intro to STEM Careers to Middle School students. The focus of these courses is to help equip students with tools and skills they will need to be successful along their academic journey, as well as along their journey toward college or career. Over the past school year, Idaho Digital Learning has also partnered with one school district to begin offering this content to Elementary students. We are excited about the possibility of being able to extend this content into the Elementary grade level in years to come! High School students need preparation and guidance for college and career, as well. High School students enrolled through Idaho Digital Learning will find age appropriate versions of Keyboarding and Pathways to Success. Students in need of college and career focused content should also be encouraged to look into opportunities such as Dual Credit High School to College Transitions, Dual Credit Career and Life Planning, and Dual Credit Digital Literacy and Research Skills.

Students looking to get a head start on their post-secondary degree can take advantage of the iPath program. This program allows students to complete a scope and sequence of courses targeted to a specific college or university program of study. The goal of this program is to provide students course offerings that are intentionally aligned to a program of study, that their courses will transfer cleanly to the post-secondary level, and that they may make a smooth transition into that program after high school. Highly motivated students will find General Education Matriculation (GEM) courses that would provide them the opportunity to earn up to an Associate’s Degree by the end of their high school career.

Idaho Digital Learning is also proud to partner with Idaho Career-Technical Education to provide CTE Digital. The goal of CTE Digital is to provide all students equity of access to CTE programs. Web Development and Networking are two pathways currently available to students. We are continuing to build out program opportunities in other areas, as well, such as Business and Health.

We also realize that all educators need to be equipped with the tools, skills, and knowledge to help students along their journey to successfully reach college and career opportunities. Idaho Digital Learning is the proud state affiliate for the Collaborative Counselor Training Initiative (CCTI) courses. This content is targeted to any educator looking to better support student college and career readiness within their district, school, or classroom. These are just some of the ways Idaho Digital Learning has been working to provide equity of access to college and career readiness to all students throughout the great state of Idaho. We are proud to partner with our public schools to provide these opportunities!

Request For Information For Learning Management System

Request For Information For Learning Management System (RFI #2016-001) is available for download here.  Please email any questions to Lewis Huskey at

Questions and Answers to the RFI are posted and available.  You can access the document here: