Technology and student-centric learning

Between the Philanthropy Roundtable event on Wednesday and the Startup Weekend EDU at Grockit on Sunday I’ve seen first hand the energy and momentum that is building in this space.

The Roundtable event was focused on how technology, and specifically blended learning, can be used to create student-centric learning environments. It was fantastic to see practitioners, politicians and philanthropists all coming together to rethink the purpose of schools and how students actually learn. One of the areas most interesting to me and my current work is thinking about how blended learning environments can create time/space for more project-based learning (PBL) activities. Explicitly giving kids more opportunities to work with their hands and each other.

The breakout sessions highlighted several examples of charter schools successfully applying a blended learning approach: Carpe Diem (Yuma, AZ), Rocketship (San Jose), Kipp LA Empower Academy and Summit Public Schools (Redwood City.) Beyond creative uses of technology it was great to see all of these schools focusing on building a culture of achievement and really engaging students in their own learning and that of their peers. This cultural shift is the real key to improving education outcomes for all kids.

 

During lunch, Jeb Bush shared his perspective on what policy makers and public/district officials can do to foster innovations in the education space. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of solutions that he supported and his message that the ultimate goal should be “a customized learning system that values student outcomes above all else.” He went on to say that we should not over-regulate the space but rather treat it as other industries where we accept the risk of a few bad actors banking on the larger reward of “explosions in innovation.”

The afternoon sessions continued with conversations around what policy makers can do to create an environment that encourages high quality digital learning and how traditional schools can incorporate some successful blended learning models.

The event culminated with New Schools Venture Fund unveiling their Edtech Market Map. I think it’s a great start and we need more robust tools to be able to identify and follow key trends in the edtech space. They presented it as v1 and I’m looking forward to seeing what functionalities are added over time (tagging? following?) Take some time to play around and let me know what you think!

Blended learning is definitely hot topic in education right now and if you want to learn more, check out these additional resources.

  • The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning – The seminal piece on blended learning school models, this short paper explains how each model operates and outlines several
  • How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education – This Wired Magazine article from July 2011 explains the on-the-ground implications of online and blended learning, including how technology impacts students’ and teachers’ daily schedules.
  • Is there a K-12 Online Learning Bubble? – Written by Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute, this article outlines a number of the issues with low-quality digital learning and the need for policy that rewards student performance outcomes.
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