Aurora Institute Symposium 2021

October 25 - 27, 2021
11:00 AM to 2:45 PM

October 25, 2021, 12:00-1:00 PM EST

Breakout Session: “Personalizing State-Wide Transformation”

To ensure the successes of each child, Arizona, North Dakota and South Carolina have launched and inspired large-scale efforts to develop the capacity for personalized, competency-based learning. Each state is ensuring that learning communities receive access to high-quality professional development that meets the unique needs of each educator and, by extension, the unique needs of learners within their communities. The panel will speak to the strategies and lessons from each state. Learn how systemic transformation is being designed, understand how innovative policies and practices can empower each learner to thrive and leave with strategies for exploring, launching and transforming systems within their own communities.


  • Amanda Burke, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Center for the Future of Arizona
  • Stephanie DiStasio, Director of the Office of Personalized Learning, South Carolina Department of Education
  • Ann Ellefson, Director of Academic Support, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
  • Virgel Hammonds, Chief Learning Officer, KnowledgeWorks

October 25, 2021, 2:30-3:30 PM EST

Breakout Session: “Designing a Personalized, Competency-Based Learning System of Professional Learning: Placing Collaboration, Flexibility, and a Bias Towards Action at the Core”

We know that students have different needs in how they access, engage and express learning. We know that opportunities to practice/apply, discuss and reflect are essential to ensure deep learning. It is imperative that we approach our educators’ learning experiences with the same evidence-based strategies. Participants will learn how the North Dakota Personalized, Competency-Based Learning Cohort is practicing a collaborative approach towards professional learning. Throughout the learning, participants will actively consider impact and sustainability in their own learning community. Join this session to apply the constructs of learning pathways and cycles to meet a variety of learning needs, embrace the mindset of failing forward and flexibly consider how collaborative reflection can bring both synchronous and asynchronous participants together in a powerful space.


  • Greg Dobitz, Personalized Learning Coach, Oakes High School, North Dakota
  • Ann Ellefson, Director of Academic Support, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
  • Kim Hanisch, Personalized Learning Coach
  • Tom Klapp, Director of Personalized Learning, Northern Cass School District, North Dakota
  • Erin Lacina, Director of Professional Learning and Operations, Northeast Education Services Cooperative, North Dakota
  • Kathryn Solberg, Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator, West Fargo Public School

October 26, 2021, 12:00-1:00 PM EST

Breakout Session: “Demonstrating Evidence of Learning – Anytime, Anywhere – Spotlighting State Efforts to Leverage This Unprecedented Opportunity to Dismantle the Legacy of Seat-Time”

COVID-19 allowed states to review existing policies, giving flexibility to think differently about seat time and redefining seat time all together. Learn how states enacted policy changes to account for flexibilities around seat time that will have significant impact on the future of learning.


  • Jason Berg, Superintendent, Farmington Area Public Schools, Minnesota
  • Karla Phillips-Krivickas, Senior Advisor of Policy and Advocacy, KnowledgeWorks
  • Angie Stallings, Deputy Superintendent of Policy, Utah State Board of Education
  • Michelle Udall, Representative, Arizona District 25
Register now

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