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Virtual Schools Symposium 2012

The Virtual Schools Symposium highlights the cutting-edge work in K-12 blended and online education across the country. It is the only national conference focused solely on K-12 online and blended learning in such a comprehensive way, and the highest-level practitioners and policy-makers seeking to develop e-learning programs within educational institutions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and abroad are in attendance.  This year the focus was on "Inventing the Future of Learning"  with Keynotes from Stacey Childress, Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education.  Here are some key points from their keynotes that we can keep in mind as we work on our on blended learning projects:

Stacey Childress, Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  •  Biggest trend over the next decade on the future of education
    1. Focus over the last few years Student centered personalized learning as a lever for genuine improvement in students’ opportunities and trajectories
      • Last couple of decades reform focused on institutions and instructors, only can get us so far.  Ex. Teacher development, evaluations .  Not getting to the learning moment of the student. 
      • Student centered personalized learning will have a dramatic difference compared to the last 20 years that were institution and instructor centered.
    2. Opportunity to create competency or proficiency based learning assessment and credit systems
      • Create meaningful learning based learning assessment and credit systems
      • Not how we have been running it the last  
    3. Create learning environments for students that get better as students learn.  As more students use the systems the systems learns and gets better
  • Reforms of the past see 1%-5% improvements, but it’s too slow.  Would take 50 years for 80% of students in the system to graduate and be ready for college and careers.   Need to move faster and be deep.
  • As soon as a student learns something and demonstrates it, can get credit for it and move on or go deeper.   As you learn there is a seamless pathway.
  • Credit is not tied up in what year it is.
  • Some things that trip kids up, the scaffolding and intense support that was provided in K-12 does not exist in college and the workplace.  That’s why needed students need to take control of their learning. 
  • Having caring adults, peer learning is incredibly important especially low income.
  • Learn it, demonstrate it, get credit for it.  Opens room for innovators to create new things.
  • Philanthropic dollars can accelerate innovation, spotlights great small ideas 
    1. Lot of ideas and lots of innovation
    2. Challenge is to figure out how to catalyze a lot of innovators to work on the same challenges in different ways to produce multiple options.

iNACOL - Virtual School Symposium 2012 - John White from iNACOL on Vimeo.

John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education
  • We as educators  will not be looking for the technology & innovation and be ready to use it when it comes.
  • We as educators are struggling consumers of innovation
  • Reforms especially on the technology side  may not work because of how the current system is set up
  • Create a system to be able to handle the tech and reforms when they are fully ready
  • There is a new way of policy making in America and new way of education reform
  • 81% of Louisianans were born in the state of Louisiana, which makes it so import to educate it’s workforce
  • 19 of 100 achieve a associates or bachelor’s degree after 10 years after entering high school
  • We are not on the right track with respect to change.  Need real change in our system
  • Only developed nation in the world whose high school graduation rate is regressing 
  • Problem is that the education system has not changed at all
  • What’s changed is world around it, the American  economy, family and workplace
  • Greatest challenge is the system we have arranged for ourselves
    • Federal bureaucracy
    • State bureaucracy
    • Districts
    • Elected officials
    • School boards
    • Advocacy groups
    • Publishers
    • All with agendas
    • Uncommonly fragmented to remove the power to choose who are closest to kids
    • System built to be resistant to change
  • New Orleans 
    • Most schools are charter schools
    • Principal and teachers run the school
    • Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided at school
    • Recovery school district
      • Did not setup another bureaucracy
      • Setup charter school system
      • Set the schools free
      • New Orleans 2006: fewer than 40% of students performing at grade level
      • New Orleans today: nearing 60% of students performing at grade level
      • Recovery school districts
        • 2006:  fewer than 23% of students performing at grade level
        • Today Perform 51% at grade level
    • Schools receive 98 cents on the dollar
  •  Put the power to choose for those that are closest to the kids


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