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Explore How K-12 Schools Can Shape the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2017-01-05 08:00

The future of learning can seem big and far away from schools’ day-to-day realities. Yet we at KnowledgeWorks firmly believe in the power and the responsibility of people working in and with K-12 schools to shape the future of learning.

To help educators consider what opportunities on the horizon for learning might mean for them and their students, a new workbook provides an interactive way of considering how small adjustments and bold choices could lead the way toward a future of learning that serves all learners and society well.

Shaping the Future of Learning: A K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook” invites you to explore:

  • Five present-day opportunity areas that could positively impact the future of learning in ten years
  • Strategies for taking action in response to those opportunities
  • Examples of work being done by education innovators today
  • Key questions to help you reflect on your current practice and work with others to consider what you might do differently in the future.

In some of the present-day innovations highlighted in the workbook:

  • Amy Anderson of ReSchool Colorado describes that new education system’s approach to emergent learner-centered design
  • Jean Garrity speaks to the Institute for Personalized Learning at CESA #1’s focus on helping educators and learners develop agency
  • Russ Altenburg of ReFrame Labs underscores the importance of grounding systems change in equity by building schools within communities rather than for them.

Their stories emphasize the power of bold visions to improve learning for today’s students while transforming education systems to meet future needs. This complex work takes all of us. We see every educator as a leader who can collaborate with others to shape the future of learning.

As one K-12 leader observed during a workshop that contributed to the development of the strategies featured in the workbook, “There is great hope and opportunity in reinventing schools.” That hard and rewarding work can start with you.

 K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.

To consider the future of learning in your community, download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

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Embracing the Opportunity: Scaling Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2017-01-04 08:00

As my colleague Lillian Pace wrote in a previous post, “the new Administration has an incredible opportunity to leverage as it considers a strategy for transforming the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems.”

One of the key challenges in transforming the nation’s education system is scaling best practices. As we noted in our State Policy Framework for Scaling Personalized Learning, innovative learning environments, broadly speaking, are stuck in pilot phase, providing great learning opportunities for “those students” in “that classroom” with “that teacher.” In order to truly transform our system, we must move student-centered learning beyond the pilot phase. The Trump Administration can facilitate this by offering state and local education systems the flexibility to innovate and the resources to pursue their vision of personalized learning while providing the national leadership to help them replicate effective strategies at scale.

Any federal strategy for scaling personalized learning should include the following components: assessment, accountability, school improvement, the educator workforce, extended learning opportunities, and research and development. As states begin to development their plans to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the new Administration should help states leverage the significant flexibility across the law to pursue their vision of personalized learning for every student. Specifically, the Administration should issue non-regulatory guidance on the following topics:

  • Cross-cutting Guidance on Building Personalized Learning Systems. States and districts can benefit from guidance on how to leverage flexibility in ESSA around accountability, assessment, teacher credentials, and title funding to build personalized learning systems.
  • Strategies for Leveraging the Direct Student Services Opportunity to Support At-Risk Students. States can benefit from guidance on how to use the optional direct student services reservation to expand access to rigorous, personalized learning experiences for at-risk students.
  • Guidance on Early College High School and Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Provisions. States and districts can benefit from guidance on how to leverage flexibility across ESSA to increase student access to high quality early college high school and dual and concurrent enrollment programs including through accountability and reporting, access to federal funding, and professional development.

KnowledgeWorks stands ready to work with the new Administration to assist states and districts working towards their vision of high quality, personalized learning experiences that result in every student thriving in college, career, and civic life.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."Read more about KnowledgeWorks’ recommendations for the incoming Administration, you can find our entire transition memo, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration.

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Make a New Year’s Resolution for the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2017-01-03 08:00

Whether you make a New Year’s resolution this year or not, your actions in the coming year have the potential to change the shape of the future of learning. Educators, administrators, and students are increasingly driven to personalize learning, and the desire to make meaningful connections between what we’re teaching and learning to what matters most to us is only going to grow in 2017.

In our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook, we invite you to consider how even the smallest steps you may take could make a big impact. We outline future needs, and provide the space for reflection on what you’re doing today, and what you might do differently in the immediate future.

How do you know what’s working for students today? How might your district better capture student voice?

What opportunities do students have to take their learning into the community? How could you recognize student contribution outside the classroom?

What organizational changes do you wish you could try if you had the time and permission?

How does your school or district currently involve multiple perspectives in decision making?

When you consider what you want for your school, for your students, your vision for an ideal graduate in your community, don’t underestimate your own influence. What could you resolve to do in 2017 to change the outcome for learning in 2025?

 K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.To consider these questions and more, download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

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Learning Illuminated

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-23 08:00

Strands of multi-colored lights cover Marysville Early College High School, illuminating the night. Over 6,000 lights dance to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, choreographed by students during a semester-long project.

“Our Christmas light show project has really taught me how to work with certain software, IP locations and networks, because we’re programming all these lights to work together,” said Robert Moots, a junior at Marysville Early College High School. “I have learned so much about coding and I think this entire experience has made me smarter and able to handle large tasks.”

Moots and six classmates worked on the project as part of a new Winter Magic capstone project with their teacher, Justin Rigsby. The project was a natural fit for these IT students, who learned the basics of circuit boards and coding in earlier classes.

The project also meets all learning standards from the Ohio Department of Education.

“It’s touching all the ODE standards, maybe not in a conventional way, but in a very fun, practical way,” Rigsby said. “You always get kids asking, ‘why are we doing this’ or ‘is this something I’ll ever use?’ Now these students get to see the skills they learned in other classes and put them to use.”

Most importantly, the Winter Magic project has been completely student-driven, allowing space for teamwork, creativity and learner agency.

“At its core, this is a student project,” Rigsby said. “From day one, they’ve planned it. I told them right from the start that we need to come together to teach each other what we learn. They had to figure out how it worked as a team. This was wholeheartedly their project from start to finish.”

The show will be automated from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the holiday.

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The Role of Leadership Development in Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-12-20 08:00

To learn more about how the work of scaling personalized learning impacts teachers’ practice, KnowledgeWorks listened to teachers from across the country as they talked about their experiences. This research culminated in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”

One of those conditions, leadership development, is defined as:

A district should have a leadership development program that identifies and trains leaders at the classroom, school, and district level. This includes involving educators and other staff members in the visioning process, strategic planning, partnership cultivation, and curriculum review.

At its core, leadership development in a personalized learning system is about creating a pipeline of sustainable leaders capable of sustaining the transformation to a personalized learning system. The first step in any development program is identifying those worthy of the time, resources, and money required to cultivate emerging leaders. Many of those who spoke to us put emphasis on developing leaders at the school, rather than district, level in order to ensure that they are familiar and compatible with the schools and learning environments where they will work. Strong leadership programs provide an array of development opportunities including within the classroom, across teams, and even as school leaders or upper-level district administration.

As one practitioner told us, “Another big piece has been to flatten leadership. We’re in this together and building leadership for every teacher.”

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’For more on supporting emerging leaders in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.

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Education Inspired: Personalizing learning in Kenowa Hills, Michigan

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-12-19 08:00

Kenowa Hills Public Schools’ vision towards personal mastery and competency-based education is amplified through their STEM Academy. The Knights STEM Academy approach provides real-world experiences that link academic achievement and future success.

Watch how Kenowa Hills is personalizing learning through their STEM Academy:

Learn more about the KnowledgeWorks approach to competency-based education.

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Five Attributes of the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-16 08:00

As we enter the emerging era of partners in code described in KnowledgeWorks’ fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning, we are just beginning to develop new uses for and new relationships with machines that are increasingly wearable, connected, and smart. If you use a Fitbit to monitor your health or use your car’s smart safety system to help avert accidents, you’ll have a flavor of what these new partnerships mean today.

Looking ahead ten years, education faces some critical questions:

  • How might education help people prepare for an increasingly automated and taskified world of work – and prepare over and over again over their lifetimes?
  • How might educational structures diversify to help achieve resilience and provide more learner-centered education?
  • Might we use new tools and understandings of human performance to create greater focus on individual development in education?
  • How might education support individuals and communities in responding to volatile conditions in positive ways?

The graphic recording below illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”

This graphic recording illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”View a larger version of the image.

Key among them, the conversation highlighted five attributes for the future of learning. It needs to be:

  1. Personalized
  2. Competency-based
  3. Project- and place-based
  4. Focused on both soft skills and work-specific skills
  5. Oriented around whole person development across a lifetime

In creating approaches to education that are both flexible and grounded and which incorporate these attributes, the conversation emphasized, we need to be guided by clear visions. Otherwise, we won’t know what success looks like at an individual, school, or systems level, and we risk letting ourselves be so buffeted by change that we end up somewhere other than we intended.

What do you want the future of education to look like? Do these attributes resonate? Would you add to this list or take anything away?

For more on the convening, see Tom Vander Ark’s recap, “Leading Personalized Learning: State Policy Advice & Successes.”

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Looking Beyond High School Graduation Rates to Understand College and Career Readiness

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-12-15 08:00

Every fall for the past few years, the K-12 education community has celebrated an exciting accomplishment: growing national graduation rates. In fact, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that from the 2010-2011 school year to the 2013-2014 school year, graduation rates have increased across all subgroups, and both the black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps have decreased.[1] While a significant accomplishment that is undoubtedly worth of celebration, the nation’s education community must look at data beyond high school graduation rates to understand the full picture of college and career readiness.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) studies projections of workforce needs over the next few years, including required education levels. In 2020, CEW predicts that 65% of all jobs in the United States will require some amount of postsecondary education, up from 59% in 2010.[2] We can celebrate high school graduation rates as an indicator of better prepared students, but this data suggests that postsecondary attainment must be considered alongside high school graduation rates to determine true preparedness for next steps.

Unfortunately, the celebrated increased high school graduation rates does not take into account the reality of students enrolling in remedial courses or student attrition in higher education. When students arrive at their postsecondary institution without the needed knowledge and skills to enroll in college-level classes, they are placed in remedial classes. While they cost the same as other credits, remedial credits do not count towards graduation requirements. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), low-income, Hispanic, and African-American students are more likely to need remediation than white students, placing a heavier financial burden on groups that traditionally must overcome greater challenges in progressing through the education system. Additionally, enrolling in remediation courses increases a student’s likelihood of dropping out of college, with debt and few credits counting towards a degree.[3]

Remediation poses an obvious risk to a student’s ability to progress through postsecondary education in pursuit of joining the workforce. Just how serious is this risk? Using Colorado as an example, in 2005, remediation rates ranged from 22.2% for students in four-year institutions to 60.1% for students in two-year institutions.[4] The exact percentages vary across states, but Colorado’s rates are not out of the ordinary. There is an urgent need to create better linkages between secondary and postsecondary education to resolve this remediation crisis. High school graduation rates are only one step towards college and career and must be accompanied supports and structures that will allow for students to make the transition to higher education without needing to face the threats that come with remediation.

Remediation rates are not the only byproduct of disconnected secondary and postsecondary education systems. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), for first-time, full-time students enrolling in college in fall 2008 and seeking a bachelor’s degree, six-year graduation rates ranged from 36% at the least selective schools to 89% at the most selective schools.[5] While this particular report from NCES did not disaggregate the data to understand differences based on race, family income, or first-generation status, trends across other data sets make it reasonable to draw the conclusion that these percentages are even lower for low-income students and students of color. Improving the connections between secondary and postsecondary education is not just about preparing students for the workforce, it is also critical to increasing equity in higher education and, eventually, the workforce.

By looking at our future workforce needs alongside the implications of high remediation rates and low six-year college graduation rates, a significant amount of work needs to be done before high school graduation rates can be an indicator for future success. In addition to programs that support first-generation college students find success in higher education, systemic and structural work needs to be done to create better alignment between high school and postsecondary education. To prepare students for future workforce needs, K-12 and postsecondary education must seek systemic alignment that creates clear pathways for students to find success in their education in pursuit of their career goals.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."In our transition memo to the new Presidential Administration, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, we offer a set of recommendations for leveraging national momentum to create a flexible, customized education system where every learner succeeds. One of those recommendations is: “Incentivize effective transitions between K–12 and higher education to increase college enrollment and persistence.” Read the complete memo to learn more.

[1] United States Department of Education. 2015. U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New Record High. http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-high-school-graduation-rate-hits-new-record-high-0

[2] Carnevale, Anthony P., Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl. 2013. Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020. Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce. https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.FR_.Web_.pdf

[3] National Conference of State Legislatures. Hot Topics in Higher Education: Reforming Remedial Education. Accessed December 5, 2016. http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/improving-college-completion-reforming-remedial.aspx

[4] Colorado Department of Higher Education. 2016. 2015 Legislative Report on Remedial Education.

[5] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2016. The Condition of Education 2016.

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Creating a Culture of Success, for All Students

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-12-14 08:00

For a wide variety of reasons, all too many young people fall behind or drop out of school well before completing the requirements for graduation, not to mention lacking the readiness for a meaningful job, career, or postsecondary training. As “America’s Public Schools Should be More Focused on Achievement, not Prison” vividly demonstrates, these young people are far more likely than their peers to end up in the criminal justice system. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

Great schools such as the Boston Day & Evening Academy are deeply committed to insuring successful outcomes for students who have not succeeded in traditional school environments. The formula is not overly complicated — it’s simply good, student-centered educational practices implemented deeply by caring, skilled adults.

In Ohio, KnowledgeWorks is supporting and partnering with five school districts who are committed to fundamentally transforming and dramatically improving the educational experiences and outcomes of their “alternative” schools and programs. Core strategies include:

  • Comprehensive intake and assessment process that takes into account all of the student’s needs and leads to the creation of a personalized road map to completion and readiness for life after high school
  • Robust and targeted student supports and interventions to address students’ non-academic issues that impede attendance and learning
  • Competency-based learning framework that rewards and promotes students for mastery while accommodating varying learning styles and paces
  • Clear, relevant pathways to career and/or postsecondary pursuits

These strategies combined with talented, caring educators and leaders combine to create the kind of culture needed to ensure that every student succeeds, regardless of his/her past failures. The goal is high school completion with academic and social readiness that will catapult these young people into their chosen future goals. Anything less is unacceptable.

Learn more about KnowledgeWorks in schools.

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Leading Change in Education

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-12-13 08:00

Navigating the future is hard work. Charting a course forward is like aiming for a blurry horizon that shifts constantly as forces of change swirl together in different ways and people’s decisions and actions change the landscape along the way.

KnowledgeWorks’ recent “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide” serves as a navigation map for traveling between today’s current reality and strong future-facing visions for learning. While it details key opportunities and strategies to shape the future of learning, it also highlights broader change management principles for education. These change management principles apply whether you are in K-12 school-based education, informal and community-based learning, or higher education.

Seemingly unrelated areas can work to create transformational change.We can influence the trajectory of change. Despite the sense we sometimes have that change is happening to us, trends are not inevitabilities. We can shape, mitigate, and enable them.

Forming partnerships can create new possibilities. Every education sector has opportunities to reshape learning by building intentional partnerships rooted in common values – not necessarily in convenience – with other organizations and with communities and learners. Working across sectors can also create more coherent and meaningful opportunities for learners.

Coordination and matching services can help meet learners’ needs. Education stakeholders can leverage new forms of coordination and new platforms for connection to help match learners with personalized learning experiences and supports.

Emerging technologies can enable new solutions. Considering technological advancements with an open mind and critical thinking can help education stakeholders identify how to use them to catalyze change effectively and equitably. Cautions include focusing on flash over substance, using new technologies in old ways, and placing technology above relationships.

Taking a systemic perspective can maximize impact. Not every problem can be solved with a new program or tool. Considering the larger systems at work when evaluating solutions can enable leaders to intervene at the right level. Working across sectors can also help foster sustainable systems change.

Examining gridlock can identify leverage points. In education, the pace of change is slow and the forces of inertia are strong. Instead of accepting the intractability of current systems and organizational structures, leaders and innovators can investigate the causes of gridlock for leverage points to influence.

Every big change begins with a single step. Though large-scale change is incredibly difficult, every big idea has a smaller first step. Leaders at every level and in every sector can take action today to begin defining their role in shaping the future of learning.

Every big change begins with a single step. #FutureEd
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For more specific strategies for shaping the future of learning in light of these change management principles, see “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide.” In addition, we would love to know what you would add to this list.

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On Potato Chips, the Ice Age, and Creative Thinking

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-12-12 08:00

Have you ever met someone who thinks about the world in a different way? I don’t mean someone with different opinions—I mean someone who helps open your mind to new ideas by reframing something simple. Someone whose lens on life helps you understand and engage with the world in new ways. Someone who you really, really, really want to learn from.

I was surrounded by about 500 of those “someones” a few weeks ago. These folks, practitioners and learners who are advancing personalized learning in Wisconsin and 13 other states, came together to share, learn, and engage with one another at Wisconsin’s CESA #1 Institute for Personalized Learning. The convening hit at a time when my mind was already swimming with thoughts of equity, supports, and policy related to personalized learning, and I was thankful to be in a space where those thoughts were met with creative, student-centered ideas— the kind that allows schools to be “bastions of creativity and wonder,” to quote one of the convening’s keynote speakers.

This same keynote speaker, John Spencer, joked about how he was born “in the Ice Age,” but not the Ice Age we usually think about. This was indeed not the canned joke about how he’s “old as an iceberg.” He switched it up. It was the era of Vanilla Ice, Ice T, and Ice Cube, he said. A genius hook, that led to a lot of age-based laughter for those of us born in the same generation. There was more to his joke than just age-related humor, though. With this joke, he immediately framed things differently for us. Precisely because he didn’t use Ice Age to mean what we usually think– boring, old, and tired– he set an expectation for us to think outside the box during the conference.

Voice and choice, making room for new perspectives

“Your voice matters. When you don’t share it with the world, you rob the world of your creativity.”

Based on a fishbowl activity I attended, sometimes that voice means a passion project on potato chips. I participated in one student’s presentation from FLIGHT Academy based on an entire quarter of research on potato chips. He used multiplication to determine how many chips the United States consumes each year, memorized and narrated a YouTube video about the technology of making potato chips, and fed us his homemade version of potato chips having experimented with them at home, where he discovered vinegar is the key ingredient to making them crispy. And you know what? I learned a lot from it. In that moment, I was the student and he was the teacher. This young man helped me think differently about what’s worth studying, and from that I pondered what I might study if I were to do my own passion project.

The term often used for the kind of academic and creative opportunity that allows for passion projects to exist is “student voice and choice.” I learned that voice and choice can exist in many different contexts outside of passion projects. Another breakout session I attended featured students in a high school AP physics course, not exactly something one would expect to have much “voice and choice.” But as it turned out, voice and choice were just as important in their class, it just looked a little different. Each student introduced themselves to us the way they introduce themselves in the class at the beginning of the year. Here’s what we learned about each student:

  • Their name
  • How they like to access information
  • How they like to engage in learning
  • How they best express what they have learned
  • Their outside interests
  • Their aspirations

In the classroom, this meant that Mr. Mo and the other students had a clear understanding of each other from the first day of school. Mr. Mo knew that there were some students who prefer to access information through his lectures, while others had already watched videos online about the topic and were ready to dig in to a project. He knew that they had varying aspirations from medical school to changing the world, and that they expressed what they learned along the way completely differently from their classmates. As a result, he could tailor—reframe, if you will—the experiences of each student in the class so that they truly learned and engaged with the material.

Respecting each other so we can collaborate, so we can learn

In so many ways, the personalized, student-centered learning is about collaboration. Stephan Turnipseed, the second day’s keynote speaker, said this about collaboration: “The heart of collaboration is respect. The mind of collaboration is sharing. If we don’t respect each other, we’ll never learn to share with each other.”

“If we don’t respect each other, we’ll never learn to share with each other.” – Stephan…
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The Institute for Personalized Learning has created a truly collaborative space for professionals. As I think about scaling the work of personalized learning across the country, I think about how important it will be to help policymakers understand the myriad ways creative approaches to education are being implemented in the field.

How can we, as advocates for personalized, student-centered learning…

  • Create an environment where policymakers feel empowered to take bold chances on policies that will benefit students by engaging them in ways they have not been allowed to be engaged before?
  • Educate policymakers and leaders in all the diverse experiences and aspirations and relationships to learning that each student has?
  • Continue to highlight all the “someones” who are helping reframe education for their students?

It starts with collaboration. With respect. With sharing.

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Learners Need to Know Themselves

Posts from WOL - Sat, 2016-12-10 08:00

“We haven’t realized that opportunity yet.” What a positive way to approach a future fraught with big uncertainties such as the extent to which today’s workers might be displaced by the automation of cognitive tasks and whether the drive toward customization could undermine our sense of collective connection.

That was the tenor of the conversation about the future of learning at The Education Alliance’s West Virginia Education Summit, Excellence in Education: It’s Everyone’s Business, in October. During my keynote, I described five major areas of change:

  • Work and Readiness Redefined – We are going to need to redefine the role of people in the workplace as artificial intelligence and machine learning displace or change jobs, even those involving complex cognitive tasks that we once thought could not be automated.
  • Customization and Contribution – In many areas of life, people increasingly expect to engage in authentic and relevant experiences that align with their personal value sets. At the same time, they will need to find the right niche in a complex economic landscape.
  • Elastic Structures – Digital tools are combining with a cultural shift toward distributed authority and greater transparency to create new approaches to learning and coordination, including the potential for new educator roles.
  • Optimization of Self and Experience – Deepening insight into how the brain works, increasing awareness of social-emotional development, and the proliferation of new tools such as augmented reality, virtual reality, wearables, and sensors will enable us to optimize our performance and deepen our self-knowledge.
  • Navigating Change – As work transitions, local economies get disrupted, environmental volatility increases, and people face other challenges, individuals and communities are going to need to develop resilience to respond to rapid change and navigate turbulence.

Not surprisingly, work and readiness redefined stood out as the area most likely to impact learning in West Virginia, with customization and contribution and navigating change tying for second place.

Work and readiness redefined stood out as the area most likely to impact learning in West Virginia.These are results of a live poll taken during my session at the Education Summit.

Although the social response to the changes on the horizon was highlighted as a huge and essential question, participants saw many areas of opportunity, among them:

  • Build learners’ confidence and skills by using simulations and by connecting with community resources and businesses to create real opportunities for contribution
  • Create lifelong learning retooling centers that people can enter and leave as needed
  • Draw upon the assets of rural communities when pursuing project- and place-based learning
  • Use the move toward customization to support people with disabilities and other challenges more effectively and responsively
  • Improve supports for people in poverty, including legislation, advocacy, and education
  • Increase diversity and inclusion as work changes
  • Enable greater policy flexibility around migrations between physical and online schools
  • Orient policy around education over jurisdiction, enabling people to move across school district boundaries to meet educational needs
  • Build upon existing programs to spread education innovation.

As one adult participant insisted, “We’ve got to move to a new concept of education” to meet the demands of the emerging era. Perhaps even more powerfully, one of the students present underscored the responsibility of learners to know themselves and find their own ways forward.

What might it mean to make helping learners develop that capacity a key outcome of education?

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STEM Student Showcase: Changing the way teachers and parents collaborate

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-09 08:00

Guest post by James Murray, the Principal of Waukesha STEM Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. James also works in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Educational Doctoral Program in their Personalized-Learning research project [PIP], to align research with application.

At Waukesha STEM Academy, we’re taking the traditional model for a parent-teacher conference and flipping it on its head.

Traditionally, parents-teacher conferences have a parent sitting across the table from a teacher being told what their child is doing well or needs help with. With this model for information sharing, the student is removed from the process. They are not owners of their learning.

At Waukesha STEM Academy, we want students to be able to articulate:

  • What it is that they have learned
  • Why they have learned it
  • How they know they have learned it
  • How they have applied this learning in a real-life scenario that will help them down the road to become successful in life and beyond the four walls of a classroom

To help foster our learner-driven environment and maintain the transparency essential to personalized learning, we created our STEM Student Showcases, or S-3 model.

Our goal was for our students to own their learning and demonstrate this ownership by sharing out what they were passionate about, as far as their best work samples and proudest moments. STEMfolios, or digital portfolios, are like a scrapbook of a student’s learning highlights. With carefully crafted, reflective conversations, our advisors and content-team teachers spend time with each student to help facilitate this process.

When we have S-3 evenings, what would traditionally be parent-teacher nights, parents come in and students share their STEMfolios. Our advisors help build context, guide conversations and support and steer feedback sessions. Students able to share why they have chosen certain samples of work, articulate what they have learned and go through next steps. The process and reflective questions are what make S-3 evenings impactful.

In an effort to honor the Learning Independence Continuum, we have also worked to strike a balance between our progressive S-3 model, as well as more traditional models where parents and/or guardians visit our campus and meet one-on-one with content-specific teachers. We know that while many students are able to clearly articulate their successes and areas in need of growth, not all students may be there yet… and that is okay. As students move through the Learning Independence Continuum, we know that they will reach that level of articulation.

As we continue to build learner independence, S-3 evenings are becoming milestone events integrated into the learning experience where connections, communication and growth are a constant

Share how you’re applying Dr. Rickabaugh’s Learning Independence Continuum with me on Twitter at @edUcation_frwd or comment on Facebook.

knowledgeworks-policy-webinar-personalized-learning-10112016-thKnowledgeWorks and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future hosted a webinar, “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: How Lessons from the Classroom Inform System Design.” James Murray joined a teacher and district leader to discuss personalized learning. Access the webinar.

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A Strategy Guide for the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-12-08 08:00

Even if you get excited about the changes on the horizon for learning, it can be hard to make the leap between future vision and current action. Some things that we would like to see for the future can seem daunting or impossible from today’s perspective. Other possibilities for the future can seem so huge that it can be hard to see where to start. Yet today’s systems, institutions, and organizations need to consider how best to respond to a rapidly changing and increasingly complex external environment that will impact operations, give rise to new organizational structures and business models, and shift learners’ expectations.

Shaping the future of learning – especially while managing education today – is hard but necessary work. As one K-12 leader who participated in a recent workshop emphasized, “Ignoring trends shaping the future of education will not stop change from happening. It’s important to have a voice in shaping it.”

To help education stakeholders own their voices in shaping the future of learning, KnowledgeWorks recently released “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide.” Reflecting the insights of over sixty leaders and innovators from K-12 school-based education, informal and community-based learning, and higher education, this strategy guide aims to help people in those education sectors grapple with five foundational issues on the horizon and consider specific strategies for responding to them.

These foundational issues, which present rich opportunities to lead the future of learning in light of KnowledgeWorks’ latest comprehensive future forecast, are depicted below.

These foundational issues, which present rich opportunities to lead the future of learning in light of KnowledgeWorks’ latest comprehensive future forecast, are depicted in our infographic.View a larger version of the Leading the Future of Learning Infographic.

Big picture, each of the education sectors featured in the strategy guide has particular opportunities to address these issues.

  • K-12 School-Based Education faces unique challenges relating to student needs, equity, regulatory requirements, and funding but is in a strong position to build upon its current leadership in personalized learning in creating more equitable and learner-centered ecosystems.
  • Informal and Community-Based Learning can draw upon its unique offerings of free-choice learning experiences and its relative freedom to help lead the way for more personalized and relevant learning for people of all ages. Despite capacity constraints, this sector can help lead the way toward more interconnected learning ecosystems.
  • Higher Education can broaden and diversify learning experiences and supports while incentivizing new practices and innovation amid cultures and structures that tend to well established and slow to change. Clarifying or redefining purpose and outcomes could help both current institutions and new entrants strengthen market niches and meet learners’ needs.

The strategies presented in the guide provide starting points for identifying how your sector and organization might leverage the key opportunities on the horizon. We invite you to explore which ones seem most accessible or most impactful and what tactics might enable you to bring these strategies to life in your context.

As a higher education leader asserted, “We can make the future happen now.” It’s not just that we can; it’s that we must. In the words of one community-based learning leader, “We must stop talking about changing education and start doing it. The world is different – just look around.”

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Opportunity Awaits: How the President-Elect Can Scale Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-12-07 08:00

Presidential transitions can be a time of uncertainty and a time of opportunity. At KnowledgeWorks, we believe the new Administration has an incredible opportunity to leverage as it considers a strategy for transforming the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems. Local innovators are eager to advance new ideas for education reform but they need a partner in the federal government willing to empower their visions for reform. In our transition memo, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, we offer a set of recommendations for leveraging national momentum to create a flexible, customized education system where every learner succeeds.

We strongly encourage the incoming Trump Administration to prioritize the following ideas in its education agenda. Make sure to view our full transition memo for specific strategies on how to advance each of these ideas.

  • Incentivize effective transitions between K–12 and higher education to increase college enrollment and persistence. With only 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolling in college, and one-third of those learners placing into remedial coursework, the new Administration must improve the transition between the nation’s K–12 and higher education systems. A federal strategy must remove barriers to college access and create seamless pathways to attainment of a postsecondary credential and meaningful employment.
  • Help states and districts scale K–12 personalized learning systems. The new Administration should partner with the increasing number of State and district leaders who have adopted a vision for personalized learning and have begun the hard work to build student-centered education systems. These leaders can benefit from the flexibility to innovate, the resources to build something new, and national leadership to help them replicate effective strategies at scale.
  • Support personalized learning pathways toward a postsecondary credential by making the federal financial aid system more flexible. A new Administration should modernize the federal financial aid system to reflect the realities of today’s postsecondary learner. Traditional 12 credit-a-semester, full-time enrollment in postsecondary education is no longer the norm as individuals increasingly seek access to postsecondary opportunities as early as middle or high school, while working and raising a family, or later in life as part of a career change. We recommend an overhaul of the Federal financial aid system to ensure it is more flexible, better able to address changing career requirements, and reflective of the nation’s increasing interest in personalized education.
  • Establish a cross-cutting priority for federal grants focused on personalized learning. A new Administration can help states, districts, and other education stakeholders invest in and expand high-quality personalized learning initiatives by establishing a priority for discretionary grant programs focused on personalized learning. An emphasis on personalized learning will ensure federal resources support high-impact strategies with the potential to close achievement gaps and ensure all students succeed.

We look forward to working with the new Administration to create a policy platform that makes it easier for learners to access high-quality, customized pathways to college and career success. In a time of uncertainty, there is no better strategy than to build on our strengths. By empowering our local innovators, we can turn their energy and dedication into a system that works for all.

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It’s Your Turn to Engage with the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-12-06 14:29

What does it mean to truly succeed in school?

When I was growing up, it was all about the grades. I wanted them, and I wanted them all to be As. I felt that a good report card meant accolades at graduation, a scholarship to college, and a promising future.

But as an adult, what I want for my children, and all learners, is so much more than that. It’s not just about traditional success in school – it’s about acquiring the skills and the behaviors that will translate to success in life. It’s about preparing for jobs that don’t even exist yet. It’s about recognizing that learning doesn’t happen in a bubble, sitting at a desk in a classroom for 12 years, but is a life-long, community-wide experience. But how to begin this work?

That’s why we are providing the opportunity for educators to really consider the near horizon of learning with our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook. Developed from conversations with a handful of the more than 60 educators who participated in workshops that provided the foundation for the strategy guide, this workbook offers real-world examples of work that is being done by educators today to prepare for the future of learning and spaces for educators to reflect on their own practices and aspirations.

In ten years, my oldest daughter will be fourteen years old, and I want her education to reflect and encourage her passions, her curiosity, and her spirit as much as her experiences in preschool do today. I want her to be excited to learn, her teachers to be excited to teach, and her community to play an active and critical role in how, where, and when she learns.

 K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.So, what do you think it means to succeed in school? How might your district more broadly capture student voice? What role does the community play in learning?

To consider these questions and more, download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

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The Importance of Transparency in Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-12-05 08:00

Guest post by Angela Patterson, a teacher in the Elmbrook School District.

Historically, teachers have been somewhat isolated in their own classrooms. Shielded from the rest of the building, and even sometimes the outside world, by four walls and a door. The personalized learning movement has changed the way that we think about communication, both inside and outside the classroom. Literal and figurative walls are being removed, letting in the outside world in new and amazing ways.

Personalized learning is not the same “status quo” of education that many of our current stakeholders are familiar with.  Due to this, transparency is key. We need to not only educate the youth that come into our classrooms each and every day, but we also need to educate the families, communities, and district partnerships tied to the school. True growth and success in education requires a relationship built with a solid foundation of mutual support, trust, and collaboration. This happens best when classrooms are opened up, shared, and celebrated.

Five years ago, many teachers would have felt uncomfortable knowing that “outsiders” would be observing in their classroom environments, engaging with students, or watching their instructional practices. In our district, it has become the new “normal.” So much so, that teachers and students are eager to share and explain what they are working on. These types of practices have opened up the world of education in a way it has not been exposed to before. Teachers are not just attending professional development sessions to be “spoken at” but are instead receiving far more powerful, authentic learning from each other. With the increase in social media, open door policies, and other technology use, families also have a much clearer picture of what their students are doing day in and day out. It is changing the dinner table conversation from “What did you do today” to “I saw you were working on….tell me more about that.”

Transparency has helped to solidify the commitment to student-first environments. It ensures that each child in our school was truly “our student,” not just mine, yours, or theirs.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. This is just one excerpt from our paper. Read the complete paper.

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Proficiency-Based Pathways: Allowing students to move at their own pace

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-02 08:00

Guest post by James Murray, the Principal of Waukesha STEM Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. James also works in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Educational Doctoral Program in their Personalized-Learning research project [PIP], to align research with application.

When Waukesha STEM Academy opened more than six years ago, our incoming students had such varied levels of mathematical readiness-levels that a grade-level system of teaching math wasn’t going to work. We knew we wanted support the individual needs of our students, in accordance with the Learning Independence Continuum, but those needs, for students ranging three traditional grade levels, ranged anywhere from a 4th Grade mathematics readiness level all the way up to Algebra competencies. (Today the range spans all the up to Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus A/B. How wild is that, to see in a middle school setting?)

To best meet the needs of our students, we created a proficiency-based path for our students who were not only coming in at different places in their math continuum of learning, but were beginning to move at different paces. Some students needed a bit more guidance and time, while others were quite independent and were able to tackle rigorous mathematical experiences at a very rapid pace.

Implementing proficiency-based learning at Waukesha STEM Academy opened staff’s eyes to what the system needed to look and feel like throughout the school.Proficiency-based pathways opened our eyes to what the system needed to look and feel like, not just in math classes but throughout the school. It had to be flexible enough for students to be able to work through their competencies and demonstrate mastery of targets to complete a course at different times throughout the year. This flexibility allowed them to move on to higher levels of math, based on their needs and their own respective pace. At Waukesha STEM Academy, we extended the flexibility to the school calendar and opened up Summer months as an option for students. Student agency was beginning to take hold as students started seeking to grow based on their own rigorous academic and long-term goals, instead of simply being instructed to go to class and learn. Learning had become the constant and time was now the variable.

Grading in a Proficiency-Based Model

Once we had implemented proficiency-based pathways at Waukesha STEM Academy, we had to re-focus our efforts on assessments, or grading. The days of handing out A’s, B’s and C’s was now a thing of the past, partially because it didn’t supply any real feedback. More importantly, students wanted to understand where and why they were proficient and where they needed to grow. We wanted a new system that gave students specific feedback surrounding their evidence of learning and showed them exactly where they needed to focus as well as raise the bar for rigor and our expectations of what was necessary to move on to the next level.

Today at Waukesha STEM Academy we have created a system that focuses on evidence of student learning being displayed in a digital portfolio (STEMfolio) and consistent feedback being given by teachers to students and their parents to help the students understand:

  • What are you learning?
  • How are you going to learn it?
  • How are you going to demonstrate that you have learned it?
  • What are your next steps?

We have set the bar very high for our students, so there is a great sense of accomplishment when a student demonstrates mastery. That is validated when we see the results of some of the formalized and standardized tests that our students take, when compared to the rest of the district, their normed-peers and students across the nation. We are well above the average range of achievement. We have set the new standard of excellence; it is just the way that we do business now.

Research has proven time and time again that if someone is able to learn something and then teach it, that they must master that skill or own the knowledge required prior to being able to teach someone else to do the same. At Waukesha STEM Academy, students have now begun to own their learning. By demonstration through application and creation in context, we are seeing the highest level of proficiency ever. We are raising the bar and helping students see and realize their full potential, like never before.

Share how you’re applying Dr. Rickabaugh’s Learning Independence Continuum with me on Twitter at @edUcation_frwd or comment on Facebook.

knowledgeworks-policy-webinar-personalized-learning-10112016-thKnowledgeWorks and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future hosted a webinar, “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: How Lessons from the Classroom Inform System Design.” James Murray joined a teacher and district leader to discuss personalized learning. Access the webinar.

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Good Practice is Innovating for the Future

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-11-30 14:54

The way we live, work, teach and learn is changing at an exponential rate, and KnowledgeWorks’ latest strategic foresight resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide, empowers educators to meet challenges head on. KnowledgeWorks’ Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, Katherine Prince, and Jason Swanson, Director of Strategic Foresight, recently joined Larry Jacobs to discuss grounding education innovation in brain science, designing for equity, considering social and emotional development and more.

“Good practice is innovating toward the future,” says Prince, who stressed that educators and legislators have the opportunity to help school districts pilot new approaches by fostering innovation in a local context. The changes don’t have to be massive, and districts can make small changes while still having a big impact.

Swanson also spoke of personalized learning, and how important it is to consider social/emotional health in the context of education.

“If we’re talking about personalized learning and personalized supports, we need to lean heavily on the social/emotional side of learning,” Swanson says. “We need to let students take action, take ownership, and address their needs. Let’s take this from the ground up: what’s working? What’s isn’t? What’s really affecting student learning?”

Listen to the full discussion between Larry Jacobs of EduTalk Radio, Katherine Prince and Jason Swanson about shaping the future of learning here:

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