Minnesota Dreamin'

I spoke to the Minnesota Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Gen Olson, about online and blended learning yesterday.  I told them I was optimistic that personal digital learning would better meet the needs of individual students and would cost effectively extend the day and year.
We discussed the cost saving potential of differentiated and distributed school staffing models (see how to blend math) and the resulting team support and career ladder options it provides for teachers.
Two dozen Minnesota districts and regional offices offer courses statewide.  Minnesota has a pretty good system for authorizing charter schools—they should use it to authorize a handful of statewide online learning providers.  Minnesota does have fractional funding that facilitates choice to the course level.
Ted Kolderie, Education Evolving, hosted a provocative dinner conversation on realizing the potential of digital learning.  One conclusion is that districts will need support in making the shift to blended models.
Bob Wedl raised interesting questions about certify learning—one of the key jobs that schools do for society.  With all the informal learning opportunities emerging, Bob asked us to think about the potential for alternative strategies for certifying learning—an open process where kids could skip the course and just take the final.  I think merit badges will become part of a new system for certifying learning  and managing competency-based learning environments.  We’ll also see some innovation in certification from the informal space like work that P2PU is doing on web development.

Tom - Speaking Engagements

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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