Virtual School Meanderings

October 14, 2016

Fall Update: Activities, Impact, and iNACOL

Some blended learning news from earlier in the week.

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Fall Update
October 2016
Dear Friends,
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to a group of graduate students about blended and personalized learning. These students, former teachers now training to take on leadership roles, asked critically important questions about the work:
“How do we make sure the benefits of technology are equitably distributed?”
“How do we know efforts are working?”
“What’s the role of school leaders in driving change?”
The question that came up most often however, was a version of this: “I love this idea – meeting the needs of every kid in my class is a dream. But how, exactly, do teachers do this?”
In our role as an accelerator for system-level learning, TLA is working on all of these questions. With the launch of our recent Blended & Personalized Learning Practices at Work project, we’re feeling pretty excited about being able to address the last question in particular. The Practices project was the culmination of more than a year’s work exploring over 100 schools and systems to identify places successfully implementing blended and personalized learning. We’ve gotten down to brass tacks, sharing clear, specific, and actionable strategies for educators to transform theory to practice. Looking forward, we plan to both grow this collection of strategies as well as push even harder to make them actionable and implementable for practitioners on the ground.
As always, we appreciate your support, partnership, and candid feedback, which help to make all this possible. Below are further highlights of recent work.
With appreciation,
Beth Rabbitt


Recent Activities
Blended & Personalized Practices At Work
A new interactive collection of resources designed specifically for educators and school designers who are implementing blended and personalized learning in their classrooms. The Learning Accelerator worked deeply with six schools to share their work through videos, audio recordings, and screencasts, as well as narrative descriptions and tangible artifacts that are free for educators to download and share. (See story in the Hechinger Report.)

Blended Learning Framework
A helpful infographic that captures the core elements of blended learning and the outcomes it can create if successfully implemented. According to Tom Vander Ark in GettingSmart, TLA’s framework, “clarified the use of data to personalize learning and enable competency-based progression” and is a “sign of progress” in the ecosystem. (See full story in GettingSmart.)

Measurement Agenda for Blended Learning
TLA Partner Saro Mohammed outlines the skills, knowledge, and activities necessary for multiple stakeholders to build our evidence base and advance our collective understanding of blended learning’s effectiveness. The Brookings Institute’s Brown Center Chalkboard recently published an article by Saro entitled “Really the end of average?

Lindsay Unified’s Path to Community-Wide Wi-Fi: Connecting Every Learner
This TLA Blended Learning Snapshot captures Lindsay Unified School District’s efforts to provide home Internet access to its 4,200 students, and includes useful strategies and artifacts for other districts to share.
Ongoing Impact
TLA was an early incubator for the K-12 OER Collaborative, a project where states and education organizations worked together to create full-course OER aligned to the new state college and career readiness standards. The Collaborative just re-launched as Open Up Resources and TLA Partner Jennifer Wolfe wrote about the journey together in a recent BlendED Update.
Relay GSE
TLA funded Relay GSE to create a series of teacher training modules for blended and personalized learning, and hundreds of educators have received the training so far. The modules were recently re-launched on Canvas, expanding access to these free, open, and online resources for educators across the country.
Fuse RI Fellows
TLA funded the Highlander Institute’s launch of the  Fuse Fellows program, a select group of educators and administrators from schools around Rhode Island who collaborate with districts to help disseminate best blended learning practices. This Fellowship is now in its third year, with nearly 60 Fellows working directly with district teams throughout the state to support blended and personalized learning.
TLA incubated this non-profit organization whose mission is to bring transparency, efficiency, and collaboration to K-12 schools engaged in evaluating and purchasing edtech products and services. We are excited about TEC‘s growing efforts to improve transparency and offer better information to school districts to improve results, reduce costs, and support new product development.
Join TLA at iNACOL
Tuesday 10/25/16 — 8 am
K-12 Online and Blended Learning Research Community Meeting TLA Partner Saro Mohammed will join the MVLRI team in a day-long research community meeting fostering a space for researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders to come together and provide opportunities for networking, find funding opportunities, and drum up collaborative prospects. Differentiated training around The Learning Accelerator’s Measurement Agenda for Blended Learning will be followed by facilitated, mixed-role, small group discussions about a path forward.
Wednesday 10/26/16 — 10 am

Hold that Elevator! Practice Pitching Your Personalized Learning Program Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful innovation: join TLA partner Kira Keane and Andrew Pratt from CityBridge Foundation for a workshop focused on communications planning and messaging for key audiences. Successfully develop your own persuasive elevator pitch on why your district is personalizing learning.

Wednesday 10/26/16 — 10 am
Measurement Agenda for Blended Learning: Advancing Collective Understanding of Blended Learning Effectiveness You need to make decisions about blended learning to best support your students. This workshop provides differentiated training about The Learning Accelerator’s Measurement Agenda for Blended Learning, followed by mixed-role, small-group discussions facilitated by researchers, administrators, funders, industry and others.
The State as Accelerant of High Quality Blended Learning In the age of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have an entrepreneurial opportunity to catalyze breakthrough instructional models designed to deliver on the use of real-time data, personalization and competency-based progression. This panel will investigate the degree to which this new law and other trends and signals give states opportunity to cultivate new blended models – and precisely how – that they couldn’t or didn’t cultivate before.
Thursday 10/27/16 — 4:15 pm

Preparing Leaders for a Next-Gen, Project Based World Next gen project-based learning (PBL) is a path to increased access, equity, and improved outcomes for students, but there aren’t enough leaders who know how to create, design, and support innovative deeper learning environments. How can we cultivate a cadre of leaders with these skills? Join the panelists to learn what’s next in leadership preparation, what role micro-credentials can play in supporting next-gen and project-based leadership programs and how we can develop more innovative leaders at scale.

Friday 10/28/16 — 10 am
Transformation through Blended Learning: Practices that Enable Personalization, Data Use and Competency-Based Progression Over the last three years, blended learning has moved from theory to mainstream practice. However, the question for many practitioners remains: “I’m blending, but how does this work actually improve learning in my classroom?” This session explores, in-depth and in actual classrooms, how three elements work together in truly transformative blended learning implementations: real-time data use, competency-based learning and personalization.
Thank you for your support!
Beth Rabbitt, CEO
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The Learning Accelerator, 10605 Farallone Drive, Cupertino,, CA 95014

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