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Newswire – May 1, 2018

INNOVATION GOES TO CAPITOL HILL. Education Innovation. We’ve been talking about it since early 2016 and its necessity as part of the larger equation – Innovation PLUS Opportunity = Results. For several months CER has introduced education innovation to Washington in individual meetings and provided guidance to federal officials on who they might want to listen to if they are to ensure competency-based education replaces seat time in the quest for education mastery.

Enter Kelly Young of EducationReimagined, and Julia Freeland Fisherof the Clayton Christensen Institutewho led a riveting and necessary conversation on how Congress can help drive opportunity and innovation in teaching and learning. As Ms. Fisher offered a packed room of intrigued Hill staffers during the meeting, we must consider how “we have the tools to start to re-choreograph the classroom in the 21st century.” The current system is not designed to produce 21st century results and doesn’t promote a “learner-centered education,” said Ms. Young. Her group’s goal? To design a progressive system that ensures a learner-centered environment. There’s proof that it works. Jemar Lee, a student at IowaBIG was on hand to share his experience; at a high school where students help solve community issues through passion projects, he found success after having been discouraged and disengaged in a traditional model school. He explained how a policy that allows learner-centered environments to thrive will be one that produces personalized models specific to individual communities and economies. The message to Congress? Legislating and spending with rules and regulations that value seat time over accomplishment deter progress and innovation.

The reason personalized learning can and should be happening?

“We have tools to allow us to re-choreograph the classroom, we no longer have to limit student outcomes to whatever teachers have time to accomplish with their students in a classroom. Online learning isn’t necessarily a silver bullet.  How is technology getting integrated into classrooms, so teachers have more time for small group and individual instruction; how is technology unlocking various pathways so that students can learn fully online outside of school and inside school? And policy has a big role to play there.” (Fisher)

“What learner-centered education is all about is how do we empower young people? It assumes all learners are capable, curious and wondrous, that learning is actually a natural phenomenon and kids don’t have to be forced to do it. If kids are in a place where they’re not learning… it’s not because they don’t want to. It might be that they’re suffering from trauma, that they might have been so brutalized by the current climate of a compliance-based system, that all curiosity has left them temporarily, but it can all be restored. 

“Learners are unique….so how do we actually treat individuals like individuals, not just based on their academics but based on their interests, the language they speak, their brain wiring. It sounds complex, but actually we can design these systems that accommodate everybody. Once we realize that learning is natural…we would design a competency-based system, a system that isn’t time-based. It’s personalized, relevant, and contextualized – that the content of learning is no longer standardized.” (Young)

Interested in joining the Innovation Roadshow? Write to us here and tell us how we can work together!

HIGH MARKS FOR ONLINE HIGHER ED.  A new study from Arizona State University reports that online courses may be just what it takes to help retain students and keep them on the path to graduation. According to EducationDive, “Retention and completion rates would seem to be higher among students in online learning courses because there are fewer metrics that could contribute to low performance in coursework.” But the news piece cautions that making online courses engaging and meaningful require a close look at design. Although the study is small, the results are promising.

TRANSFORMING ED IN RURAL AMERICA.  Music to our ears. The drum beat continues new approaches to help address limitations in human capital and overcome distance barriers to allow rural communities to have access to exceptional education. According Digital Learning Strategies for Rural America, “… online and blended learning has been helping students and schools in many ways.” The report includes case studies of 15 states and programs to demonstrate policies, districts and schools that are using digital learning to meet rural education needs.

DID YOU SEE IT?  ‘How Ed Tech Can Save Rural America’ was the focus of a robust discussion at the ASU+GSV annual summit earlier this month.

THE REVOLUTION IS COMING.  According to the latest Reality Check with Jeanne Allen an education revolution is already here and it’s going global. Find out what it took for Laura Sandefur and her husband Jeff to abandon traditional schools, take the plunge and turn learning upside down. In 2009, they founded Acton Academy with just 15 students, and today with more than 80 campuses around the world, Acton Academy is considered one of the most innovative K-12 school models. Laura’s take on traditional education? “It’s not only broken, it’s irrelevant!” Hear more https://edreform.com/realitycheck/

ICYMI.  The teacher strike continues in Arizona. Somehow Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan “20×2020” calling for 20% teacher pay raises over two years and restoring recession-era cuts to K-12 funding isn’t good enough. Fanning the flames of unrest, and calling for another day of strikes, AFT president Randi Weingarten joined the Arizona rally Monday. Schools statewide remain closed Tuesday including the two largest districts in the state, Mesa Public Schools and the Tucson Unified School District.

Read more about the national situation here, and here.