We love a good continuum, and this week’s top stories reveal a good one.  Scan this week’s EdTech 10 for a range of efforts that celebrate the evolution from “idea” to “implementation” and everything in between.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. The State of Blended Learning. The Learning Accelerator (@LearningAccel) and the Rhode Island Department of Education announced a partnership that creates the nation’s first fully-blended learning state. The partnership announcement coincides with the release of TLA’s Framework for Cultivating High-Quality Blended Learning at the State Level, which outlines steps states can take to catalyze blended learning.

2. Promising Practices from Pilots. This summary of blended learning lessons from a CityBridge Education Innovation Fellow (@CityBridge) is too good not to share. Among the promising practices gleaned from Joshua Johnson’s summer blended learning pilots – teacher ‘office hours’ embedded into a station rotation model, teacher-monitored independent reflections, and a ‘parking lot’ for lingering questions. For information on blended learning implementation at the school/district level see The Blended Learning Implementation Guide from Digital Learning Now, Getting Smart and The Learning Accelerator.

3. School Boards and Scale. The National Association of State Boards of Education (@NASBE) released a discussion guide written by blended learning leaders such as John Bailey (@john_bailey) of Digital Learning Now (@DigLearningNow) and iNACOL’s (@nacol) Susan Patrick (@susandpatrick). The series highlights that state boards of education are key to facilitating shifts to blended learning, since they are responsible for adopting policies that encourage, support and oversee the implementation of personalized learning systems.

Digital Developments

4. Open Wide. Rice University-based nonprofit OpenStax (@OpenStax), which has already provided free textbooks to hundreds of thousands of college students, announced a $9 million effort to develop free, digital textbooks capable of delivering personalized lessons to high school students. Funded by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, OpenStax will use the same kind of technology that Google, Amazon and Netflix rely upon to deliver personalized search, retail and entertainment choices.

5. Tune Up. Chromatik (@chromatikmusik) announced the launch of “Spotify for Sheet Music.” With updates to it iOS and web applications, the streaming sheet music service opens up lots of cool options for students and music educators – now featuring thousands of titles for 20 instruments from Disney, Sony, Universal and more.

Cradle to Career

6. Head Starts. EdWeek celebrated the Head Start Program’s (@NatlHeadStart) approach toward its 50 year milestone with an review of the program’s history and evolution. The article raises an important issue that piques our interest – as K-12 programs and HigherEd programs evolve to better meet the demands of the 21st century, what changes need to occur at the earliest entry points into education in order to equip all children to thrive? Speaking of students getting a head start, we were excited to learn about the recently announced inaugural group of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Early College-Internet Course Exchange (EC-ICE). Henry Whitlow summed up his excitement by saying, “ I am thrilled to provide this opportunity to students who historically have not had the opportunity or chance to attend a postsecondary institution and to do this while in high school. We look forward to expanding the Early College-Internet Course Exchange (EC-ICE) in the subsequent years to more Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) so they can offer online courses and support to a new group of students.”

7. Thinking Outside the Transcript. Highlighting the release of “Next Gen Tools: Competency Report,NGLC’s (@NextGenLC) Kristen Vogt painted a picture this week of what career-readiness looks like for graduates of competency-based education programs like Northern Arizona University’s Personalized Learning degree program. What do you think matters more in the hiring process – demonstrations of competency or a traditional transcript?

Dollars & Deals

8. Learn On. Online learning leader lynda.com (@Lynda) announced its acquisition of IT video course collection of Interface Technical Training–adding dozens of video courses focused on the growing IT marketplace to its collection of more than 2,500 videos teaching business, technology and creative skills.

STEM Gems

9. App-tastic. Two announcements this week signal a growing trend toward STEM solutions for learnings. MIT Media Lab (@MediaLab) releasedScratchJr  a free iPad app that helps children ages five to seven learn to program stories and games. The Verizon Innovative App Challenge (@Verizon) now in its third year, is once again calling on middle school and high school students to gather their teams, dream up ideas, and create concepts for mobile apps that could solve problems in their schools and communities.  Verizon is extending the program as part of its commitment to the Obama administration’s ConnectED initiative, to which the company has pledged up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next three years.

“R” is for “Research”

10.  Study Time. The wonks among us were excited to learn this week of a forthcoming Study of Competency-based Education Practices and Noncognitive Student Outcomes by American Institutes for Research (@Education_AIR), in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (@CCSSO).  According to Catherine Bitter, senior research analyst at AIR, the study supported by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, aims to increase our understanding of CBE practices and their effects on student outcomes that are considered critical for college and career readiness, including self-efficacy, self-regulation, and motivation to learn. This study’s other major contribution to the field will be a set of survey instruments that measure practices and structures associated with CBE implementation. The study will take place in high schools from three states participating in CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network. For more on competency-based education, see this great summer spotlight from our friends at iNACOL.

 

Digital Learning Now, The Learning Accelerator and NGLC are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Tom is a Director at iNACOL.

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