In 2020, the Indianapolis eLearning Fund and the 2022 Indianapolis College Football Playoff National Championship Host Committee contributed $1.6 million and $800,000, respectively, in start-up funding to launch the Indiana eLearning Lab. The Lab provided a virtual hub for educators to access lesson plans and grow professionally, while also offering parents resources to help their children navigate online instruction amid the shift to remote learning, all during a time when schools and families struggled to keep students engaged. Teachers and parents statewide in Indiana were able to access the Lab free of charge.
On September 14, 2021, the Indiana Department of Education announced it has contracted with Five Star Technology Solutions to operate the newly renamed Indiana Learning Lab. The Lab will continue to serve as a free, personalized professional learning platform for educators, and will include a just-in-time coaching and support chat service five days a week. In addition, the Lab’s content has been expanded to include both in-person and eLearning instructional supports for teachers. This exciting partnership will enable the Lab to provide even greater support to educators and parents across the state.
The Lab was created and launched with start-up funding from the Indianapolis eLearning Fund, which was launched in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eLearning Fund advisory committee designed the Lab in response to input from educators and parent representatives about what kind of support they needed as we collectively navigated the early days of the pandemic. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation was pleased and honored to be a founding funder of the Indianapolis eLearning Fund, as well as a member of the core team that developed the eLearning Lab design and oversaw the eLearning Lab RFP process. We look forward to seeing the continued growth and broader impact of the Indiana Learning Lab on students and educators across Indiana under the leadership of the Indiana Department of Education and Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner.
The Fairbanks Foundation would also like to acknowledge Candice Dodson, who – as Executive Director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) – played a lead role when responding to the RFP and was a passionate advocate for high-quality eLearning supports for educators. SETDA, in partnership with Five Star Technologies, was selected by the Indianapolis eLearning Fund during the RFP process to create and implement the Lab. Tragically, Candice died in a motor vehicle accident the day the Lab was publicly announced. Her passion for high-quality eLearning supports for educators will live on through the newly expanded Indiana Learning Lab.
Claire Fiddian-Green is the President & CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.