There’s a revolution underway in US K-12 education. With plummeting device costs, student access to connected internet devices has improved rapidly in the last few years. Half the districts in Iowa are 1:1; the rest of the country is probably getting closer to 2:1. In addition to district provided devices, last year was an inflection for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)—most districts dropped their cell phone ban and at least give teachers an option to put all that personal technology to use.

There are millions of blended classrooms worldwide–44 million students and teachers on Edmodo alone. Thousands of U.S. schools have adopted a blended approach. For example, 2500 schools use game-based ST Math. Thousands of schools use adaptive learning systems DreamBox and i-Ready, thousands use blended reading programs including READ 180.

Some blended schools have advanced competency-based learning where students progress as the demonstrate mastery. New England states have adopted proficiency-based diplomas. Some networks like Expeditionary Learning do a great job of helping students show what they know. Next Generation Learning Challenges, top performing school networks, and forward leaning districts are supporting the development of next generation schools where learning is personalized, blended, and competency-based.

Full time access to online learning is nearly ubiquitous. Most districts are expanding access to part time online learning. A half a dozen states are expanding Course Access statewide.

Leadership. Ten years ago the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) was formed to advance the work of teachers, administrators and public policy makers in the field of online learning. Five years ago, as school began combining the best of face-to-face and online learning, iNACOL added a focus on blended learning—and that will be evident this week at the annual Blended and Online Symposium (#iNACOL14).

Three years ago, as the opportunity of new tools and new student-centered learning models became clear, iNACOL actively supported development of new school models and stepped up its national advocacy for policies that support competency-based learning.

For ten years iNACOL has guided and accelerated the shift to personalized and student-centered learning with a focus on policy advocacy, communications and publishing, convening and field building. Every K-12 educator and school district and should be a member.

Best blend of the year. Join us in Palm Springs this week for the best conference on blended, personalized, and competency-based learning.  Following are sessions some sessions worth attending. View the full agenda here.

Tuesday, Nov 4

  • iNACOL Presidents Reception–see you there! 5:15-7:15

Wednesday, November 5

  • Innovations in Blended Learning: Creating a Student-Centered Learning Environment, 11:00 am-12:00 pm. I’ll be moderating an interactive discussion with Elliot Sanchez, mSchool, and Joseph Manko, Liberty Elementary School.
  • Smart Cities Book Signing (Thanks DreamBox!), 12:00 – 1:00 pm. Located at the DreamBox booth #504.
  • Smart Cities: Sparking an Urban Education Revolution, 3:15 – 4:15 pm. This station-based workshop features experts in next gen learning, leadership, talent development, and incubating tools and schools. Leave with a plan to revitalize education in your city!
  • Blended SPED: New Service Delivery Options, 3:15 – 4:15 pm. Clay Whitehead, Presence Learning, will lead a discussion with Trisha Vais, Trivium Charter School, and Glenda Tremper, River Springs Charter School.
  • Building a Better Blend, 4:30-5:30 pm. Caroline Vander Ark will moderate a discussion with Jeff Kerschner, Chin Song, and writing expert Jim Cunningham.
  • Developing an Innovation Mindset, 4:30 – 5:30pm. I’ll discuss how you, your team and your school can adopt a mindset focused on effort, initiative and collaboration. This interactive session will provide resources and examples from around the country and a framework for implementing an innovation mindset.
  • Building Trust in Education: Protecting Student Data Privacy and Security, 4:30 – 5:30 pm. The ExcelinEd team will lead a discussion about how states and districts can embrace personalization and privacy.

Thursday, November 6

  • Building Better Blends, 10:15 am – 12:30 pm. Nigel Nisbet, MIND Research Institute, will lead a discussion with Mark Lonergan, Jeremy Vidito, Chris Liang-Vergara.
  • #ChoppedEDU, 10:15 am – 12:30 pm. Design a next gen school with experts from Getting Smart and ExcelinEd.
  • Put A Badge On It: Micro-Credentialing & Competency-Based Teacher Prep & Professional Development, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm. I’ll be leading a discussion with Bridget Foster, Digital Promise, and Beth Rabbitt, The Learning Accelerator.
  • So You’ve Passed Course Choice, Now What? Lessons from Leading States, 11:30 am – 12:30pm.  The ExcelinEd team will discuss policy implications for states and districts of part time online learning.
  • Adaptive Technology will Rock Your School, 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Thomas Arnett, Christensen Institute, and writing expert Jim Cunningham.

Friday, Nov. 7

  • Paid vs. Free: Which Is Right for Your School? 10:00-11:00 am. I’ll be moderating a discussion with John Danner, Zeal.
  • To Tweet or Not To Tweet…That is the Question, 10:00 – 11:00 am. Caroline Vander Ark will moderate a discussion with Minda Corso, ExcelinEd, and Jenna Talbot, Whiteboard Advisors.
  • Elevate and Empower: World Language Teachers as the Key Players in the Shift to Competency-Based Blended Learning, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm. Carri Schenider, Getting Smart, will lead a discussion with Lisa Frumkes, Rosetta Stone, Gisele Vazquez Falls, Tallwood High School, and Moss Pike, Harvard-Westlake.

ExcelinEd, Rosetta Stone Education, DreamBox, MIND Research Institute and READ 180 are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Edmodo is a Learn Capital portfolio company where Tom Vander Ark is a partner. Tom is a director at iNACOL.

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