Stay tuned to Getting Smart as we spend next week digging into online and blended learning at the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium. Hoping you will be there too! We will be very busy working in a bunch of great sessions with many of our talented partners. Check out our schedule for the week. Not able to make the trip to Orlando? No worries, we will keep you caught up with everything happening- just remember #iNACOL13 and #edsocial and you will feel so connected you might actually start to sense the Florida heat.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. Blended learning on the farm. While the growth of blended learning programs is most prevalent in urban/suburban schools, “the need is no less great in rural areas.” The new report, Transforming K-12 Rural Education through Blended Learning: Barriers and Promising Practices from the joint research partnership of iNACOL, Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) and Northwest Nazarene University was published this week.

2. Personalized learning for Texas. School choice in San Antonio is going to get a great addition. Carpe Diem, the public charter schools based in Yuma, AZ are expanding to San Antonio. Founder and CEO, Rick Ogston, says the plan is to start one high school, while eventually building up to 5 campuses. Pending approval of the Texas Board of Education, the first school will open in 2014. Carri had a chance to visit the new Carpe Diem school in Cincinnati recently and noted that they were off to a great start.  Really, the only thing that would make this even better news would be finding a Torchy’s Tacos nearby.

3. DC K-12 landscape is changing. When you combine energized knowledgeable teacher leaders and a grant program supporting new school development, good things will happen- check out Tom’s post on EdWeek about how CityBridge is changing the K-12 landscape in Washington D.C.

Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers

4. Political support. Ted Mitchell, the former president of Occidental College and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, is reportedly in line to be named undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Ed.

5. Easy listening.  With EdReach, we’ve launched a weekly podcast featuring edupreneurs. Episode 1 feature Trent Goble, CAO of MasteryConnect, and Episode 2 explores the rise of  BloomBoard with CEO Jason Lange. Who else should we talk to? Send suggestions our way!

Digital Developments

6. Zuck funds EdTech. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million fund, Startup: Education, made its first edtech investment in Panorama Education, a startup that surveys of teachers, parents and students.

7. The write stuff. LightSide, an open essay scoring engine developed at Carnegie Mellon University.  The startup led by Elijah Mayfield is opening up their pilot program to teachers who want their students to write more and better. (Check out our case study of two automated scoring studies.)

For the Core

8. Ready for the test. California announced they are moving their students to a Common Core- like State test this year and Curriculum Associates is ready to help with the transition. Any school that purchased their California Practice & Mastery standards prep program after April 1, 2013 will have the Ready Common Core replaced practice book for free. Nice to know you have your vendors on your side, putting student needs first.

Teachers and Tech

9. Try this. Excellent teachers paired with effective technology for blended learning benefits schools in ways that are far beyond the obvious. In fact, this week Public Impact released an analysis that gets into the weeds of how blended learning models can extend the reach of great teachers. Tom provided related advice to state leaders: Try This: 10 Things Every State Should Do Now.

10. Disrupting teacher prep. Online teacher prep is becoming mainstream so what does that mean for traditional schools education? The Christensen Institute blog explains the pressure these established programs are starting to feel.  However, most of these programs presume a university role in delivering degree-based preparation. A recent conversation about Preparing Teachers envisioned a competency-based system with many ways development pathways–that would be really disruptive.

Curriculum Associates is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. MasteryConnect and BloomBoard are Learn Capital Portfolios companies where Tom is a partner. Tom is a director of iNACOL.

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