K12 Digital Capability Framework

An open-source framework mapping digital capability for K12 educators, leaders and institutions

K12 Webinar Series.

Join our K12 webinar series on digital transformation and our open-source capability framework for governments, districts and schools around the world.

arrow right

Powering digital transformation in schools around the world.

HolonIQ’s 2023 Global K12 Digital Capability Framework (K12DC) establishes a common language to enable discussions among educators, school leaders, policy-makers, curriculum developers, instructional coaches, solution providers, district-level administrators, tech faculty, and other stakeholders seeking to understand how digital transformation is taking shape in K12 education.

The Framework includes a structured yet flexible set of capabilities that help organizations, including schools and other educational systems, to measure, map, adopt and effectively use digital technologies to improve learning outcomes, operations and processes.

The Framework focuses on digital capabilities across the whole learner lifecycle. K12 digital capabilities have been mapped to four connected dimensions across the lifecycle, from People & Systems (PS) to Learning Design (LD), Learner Experience (LX) and Life-Ready (LR). The framework encompasses current capabilities such as digital infrastructure, content and curriculum, assessment and exam prep, but also looks ahead to emerging and future capabilities that will be needed to support learners for a digital future.

Informed by academic research and with input from K12 education leaders globally, the K12DC Framework offers an overarching view for schools to map and measure digital capabilities across the learner lifecycle, ultimately to support sustainable and resilient approaches to create digitally responsible, capable, and productive citizens.

Methodology and Guiding Principles

The K12DC Framework is a learner-focused, practical and flexible approach to mapping and measuring digital capability across K12 schools and systems. The framework acknowledges educational literature on digital capability and grounds these in current practice using ongoing consultation, research and analysis with K12 education leaders around the world. The K12 Digital Capability Framework benefits from a continuous and iterative feedback cycle informed by an engaged community of K12 stakeholders.


Following the learner lifecycle.
At the center of the K12 Digital Capability Framework is the learner. This lens provides an anchor so that all stakeholders involved in digital capability building convene around a common goal: to improve teaching and learning by incorporating digital technologies into classrooms and schools in meaningful and effective ways for the learner. The 4 Dimensions, 16 Domains and 70+ Capability Blocks consider how a digitally capable organization can support and enhance teaching, learning and the student experience at each stage of the journey.


Literature reviews, frameworks, and strategic plans.
The K-12 Digital Capability Framework captures a broad and diverse set of best-practices from different cultures and contexts. Framework development included review and analysis of models and frameworks on digital transformation, school improvement, and teacher capabilities, including educational instruments such as DigCompOrg and industry accepted frameworks from organizations and researchers such as UNESCO, Mishra and Koehler (2006), and WestEd. The Framework also draws on organizational theory and frameworks from business and industry, and their application across functions such as strategy and innovation. The framework is also informed by many publically available K12 schools’ and systems’ 2022 and 2023 strategic plans.

Input & Iteration

Ongoing research, interviews and testing.
Interviews and consultations with K12 leaders and digital education experts informed the first stages of Framework development. Research has been conducted with HolonIQ’s Global Networks at key points during development. The K12DC Framework benefits from a continuous and iterative feedback cycle informed by an engaged community of K12 Education professionals.

Mapping Digital Capabilities in K12 Education

The K12 Digital Capability Framework identifies four core dimensions along a learner’s journey: People & Systems (PS), Learning Design (LD), Learner Experience (LX) and Life Ready (LR). Within these are sixteen capability groups or ‘domains’, with more than 70 capability blocks adding a further level of detail. Overall, the framework is designed to allow flexibility and interpretation in context; some schools will find almost every capability block relevant to their organizational structure, activities and aspirations, whilst others will focus on a more specific set of capabilities applicable to their individual context.There are myriad connections across the dimensions but as a guiding principle, the framework sits on a critical systems-focused foundation.

Digital Transformation begins with a strong foundation

4 Dimensions

‘People & Systems‘ (PS) puts systems’ digital strategy, leadership and infrastructure at the start of the journey, and establishes the importance of data to connect and personalize the student experience at every stage. ‘Learning Design’ (LD) picks up the learner focus and outlines capabilities and emerging skill sets in designing for diverse needs, environments and modalities. ‘Learner Experience’ (LX) profiles capabilities that support school culture, community and wellbeing as well as learning experiences, academic progress and assessment. The ‘Life Ready’ (LR) dimension completes this life cycle, but rather than being a ‘final’ stage, it shifts the focus to consider how learners can be supported as they continue learning and become active in their communities and in the world. 

16 Domains

At the next level of the framework are 16 ‘domains’ of capabilities - 4 in each lifecycle dimension. These create structured groups of capabilities relating to familiar activities like digital infrastructure, digital content, assessment and college & career planning. These domains can map to organizational teams or structures in a school system, but will also overlap and blur boundaries between these. Connected capabilities can be shared responsibilities across units and departments and supported by shared systems and technologies. This is where the view of the whole lifecycle and groups of capabilities becomes particularly valuable.

70+ Capabilities

At the deepest level, each of the 16 domains unfolds into a series of blocks that include over 70 distinct digital capabilities. Some are well established in mature digital contexts, while others reflect emerging and evolving capabilities in the sector. Not all blocks will be of strategic importance or interest to every institution using the framework, and some are likely to be more ‘aspirational’ for systems who are in the earlier stages of their digital journey.

The capabilities at this level were identified by analyzing common factors in established models and frameworks, and refined in consultation with leaders in K12 education institutions and organizations around the world. The individual capability blocks will continue to evolve as schools, systems and organizations respond and adapt to changing learner needs and market developments.

This framework is not an EdTech product categorization system, although many products may map to these capability blocks. Some products may map across many domains and blocks. Indeed, this framework aims to establish a common language to enable discussions among teachers, school leaders, curriculum developers, instructional coaches, solution providers, district-level administrators, and tech faculty, and others seeking to understand how digital transformation can be understood and actualized instead of a checklist of products to purchase. 

Latest K12 Insights

Sign up for our free weekly newsletters

Join 80,000+ free weekly newsletter subscribers.