EdTech 10: Springtime Trifecta

This week marked the end of the spring conference trifecta of SXSWedu, ASU/GSV Summit and NSVF Summit.  We’re returning home for awhile with new scratches on our suitcases, new Clever t-shirts just in time for spring, and a renewed energy to continue the important work we are all doing to bring the best learning opportunities to students everywhere. This week’s Top Ten provides evidence of everyone from states to start-ups rolling up their sleeves to do just that. Grab a mint julep or margarita (maybe the combo would be fun) and enjoy!


1. This week’s NewSchools Venture Fund Summit brought together notable keynote speakers and presenters including Arne Duncan, Sal Khan, Tom Friedman, David Coleman, and many more. There were also many announcements to accompany the great programming. Rethink Education Fund has agreed to give part of its profits to NSVF. Zynga & NSVF announced a learning games accelerator. We were also excited about Charter Board Partners’ Unsung Hero Award and LearnZillion’s receipt of Entrepreneur of the Year. Check out Getting Smart coverage of the NSVF action: New Schools & New Tools and Education in a Defined Benefits World.

Blended Schools & Tools

2. The Alliance for Excellent Education released a cool profile of blended learning in action. Check out the Quakertown Community School District Interactive Video Profile.

3. Public Impact released  A Better Blend: A Vision for Boosting Student Outcomes with Digital Learning, noting that, “Like other reforms, technology plus today’s typical schools and range of teaching quality won’t do it: Schools need a “better blend” of high-quality digital learning and excellent teaching.”  We agree; that’s why we partnered with Public Impact’s Bryan & Emily Hassel for the next DLN Smart Series paper we’ll release with Digital Learning Now! next week. For a sneak preview, check out our infographic: Blended Learning & The Teaching Profession.

Digital Developments

4. Our inner policy wonks get pretty giddy about states stepping up to advance to online and blended learning. Utah is developing free, open-source material for schools. Arizona officials are seeking new & improved statewide student data systems.

5. MOOC-master Coursera announced its foray into K-12 with 28 free PD courses. Andrew Ng says one of his favorites in the list of new courses is a character development course taught by KIPP co-founder Dave Levin.

6. In a pretty epic “switcheroo,” Maine announced a switch from Apple to HP devices running Microsoft Windows 8 for its statewide 1:1 contract, citing a desire to have the schools more closely aligned to workplace environments. For more on Maine’s leadership as a state with high student access to technology, check out “Funding the Shift.

Let’s Get Personal(ized)

7. In the latest installment of myth-busting, VentureBeat published a great guest post: Dispelling myths: Personalized learning tools will not replace teachers. ICYMI, we recently pitched in on the myth-busting with the “Blended Learning & The Teaching Profession” infographic.

8. You just can’t talk personalized learning without promoting competency-based progressions. We love that CBE is getting increased attention. Dreambox CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson took a moment to reflect on competency-based learning and the need to raise the bar. KnowledgeWorks released a new report designed to help policymakers redefine federal assessment and accountability systems to support competency education. See “From Cohorts to Competency” for more.

Survey Says!

9. Pearson released results from the 2012 My Voice National Student Report. Key findings revealed that 69% of students would like to use mobile devices in the classroom, 92% believe mobile devices will change the way they learn in the future, and 90% believe mobile will make learning more fun.

10. In all the end of April excitement, we missed the release of Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up findings. ICYMI too, the findings revealed five transformative factors shaping education – CCSS, mobile tech, funding, new tools, and workforce-prep.
Disclosures: Dreambox, DLN and Pearson are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Tom is board chair for Charter Board Partners and LearnZillion is a Learn Capital portfolio company where he is partner.

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