EdTech Hero: Bobby Keener creates opportunities for 'non-traditional' learning in Virginia


Bobby Keener has never been a fan of doing things the “traditional” way. And that natural tendency to be innovative is inspiring educational reform across the state of Virginia.

As the chief technology innovations officer at the Virginia Department of Education, Keener champions initiatives to improve educational technology in his state by increasing students’ access to broadband and open educational resources (OER).

The K-12 Learning Infrastructure Plan (KLIP) — which Keener says is one of his proudest achievements — communicates the necessity of broadband access to school districts and establishes state contracts to promote this initiative. With this plan, the accessibility of broadband in Virginia’s school districts has increased from 42 to 88 percent of the Federal Communication Commission’s guidelines in less than two years, Keener said.

Keener currently serves on a national advisory group for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and cooperates with the leaders of the six other states represented in the group to promote OER and create policies and roadmaps for OER implementation.

“I took an alternative path to my own education. Sitting in a chair in a classroom just wasn’t my style, and I’m not the only one like that,” Keener told EdScoop, noting how OER can change classroom culture for students with varying needs.

In addition to bringing advanced resources to students, Keener has worked on numerous projects that encourage students to approach technology with innovative thinking.

Through a Student-Led Ideation Challenge (SLIC) and cybersecurity camps, Keener and his colleagues found creative and exciting ways for students to work together and solve problems with innovative digital solutions.

Read more from EdScoop’s series “EdTech Heroes: 25 State Leaders Making a Difference.”