County Superintendents Consider Innovation

AASA County Superintendents meeting in Washington DC was sponsored by the Pearson Foundation.  Kathy Hurley discussed the Pearson Foundations video series on Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education.  It will soon have video shorts, developed in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on best practices from a dozen countries.
As an interesting sign of the pivot to personal digital learning, Kathy says about Person, “We used to be a textbook company, now we’re a learning platform and services company.”
Kathy discussed the Pearson Foundation support of COSN’s Mobile Learning initiative.  She said a recent report predict 6b cell phone users by the end of the decade an almost 5b web users.
Tim Magner, the new Partnership for 21st Century Skills director, kicked off the first session on new learning technology with a familiar but competent, “new context requires new content” case for change.
Keith Kruger, COSN, described the 2011 Horizon Report, which points to ebooks, mobile learning as hot topics, game-based learning around the corner, and learning analytics and personal learning environments a few years out.
Like ERDI on Saturday (you’re already BYOT but you won’t admit it), there was discussion of the potential and challenges of allowing students to bring their own technology to school.
Fairfax superintendent Jack Dale made a humorous and poignant report out student advice on learning technology
Steve Dowling kicked off the second session on school improvement by giving a status report on federal grants.
I described why I though blended learning was becoming more prevalent in turnaround efforts:

  • · ability to leverage good teachers and utilize some remote teachers in hard to staff situations
  • · consistent quality of instruction with strong instructional management and monitoring tools from leading platforms (K12, Connections, FLVS, Apex, etc)
  • · extend the day and year
  • · diagnostic and personalization tools

Former Ohio chief Deborah Delisle described comprehensive school improvement efforts and suggested the teachers need a voice in the process, new roles, and lots of PD.  She concluded that leadership that demands ‘good enough for my kids’ matters a lot.
Janet Truesdale, Beauford SC, described focused efforts to boost achievement in four rural schools.  They recruited great teachers and leaders and paid them 10% more.  They insisted on a rigorous curriculum infused with technology and robotics.  And she built community support starting with faith congregations.
The forum is a useful forum for big county superintendents with big challenges.
[discl: Learn Capital has a commercial relationship with Pearson]

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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