The Future: What 32 Ed Leaders Are Excited About

With two historic shifts under way simultaneously—the adoption of common college- and career-ready standards, and the shift to personalized digital learning—we asked 32 education leaders what they were excited about.
Blended Learning & Personalization

  • Michael Horn, Christensen Institute, “The shift to using technology to personalize learning for each student so that they can master deeper skills and knowledge.”
  • Scott Ellis, The Learning Accelerator, “I am excited to see so many districts across the country starting to implement blended learning at scale. There has been tremendous momentum building up over the last 12 months, and it will carry forward into next year and beyond.”
  • Jessie Woolley-Wilson, Dreambox, “The emergence of truly personalized learning experiences where every aspect of how a student interacts with and learns from an instructional technology product is dynamically adjusted in real time for that specific student’s needs. Further, recognizing that merely recommending the “best fit” digitized version of a traditional textbook or worksheet based upon dozens – or even millions – of observations and calculations does not produce a personalized experience.”
  • Anthony Kim, Education Elements, “”Technology which supports teachers with more on-demand analytics and insights in order to help students reach the upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy as classrooms across the country shift towards personalized/blended learning.”
  • Matt Kelemen, New Leaders, “Blended learning can change the debate from investing into struggling kids or advanced kids–personalized learning can happen for everyone.”
  • Colleen Oliver, Partnership for LA Schools, “Supporting innovative principals and teacher leaders with resources to fully integrate teacher effectiveness, common core, and blended learning will provide us with increased ways to truly transform and turnaround some of our most historically underserved schools.”

Student Motivation/Agency & Personalization

  • Karen Cator, Digital Promise, “The improving understanding of engagement, persistence and grit as success factors and the support role technology plays in learning environments designed to develop these traits.”
  • Elaine Berndes, Accelerate Institute, “The gift of time and self management– teaching kids how to do life.”
  • Greg Klein, Rogers Family Foundation, “Students empowered to make better, more personalized choices in their learning and teachers joyfully facilitating ‘on the side.'”
  • Heather Staker, Clayton Christensen Institute, “Student dashboards and learning maps that help students see, control, and take satisfaction in the progress that they make each day.”
  • Joshua Klaris, US ED, “Personalized learning and student ownership of learning; when students understand standards it unlocks a show what you know renaissance.”
  • Tammy Battaglino, Parthenon Group, ” Personalized learning that builds upon the strengths of all students and teachers and thinking differently about how to combine “talent, time and technology” into effective models.”

Innovation, New Models & Competency-Based Learning

  • Scott Benson, Gates Foundation, “Clarifying our goal: maximize each student’s learning growth toward college readiness. Design schools and programs from there.” (See 4 Essential Attributes of Personalized Learning.)
  • Susan Patrick, iNACOL, “The shift from time to competency in redesigned learning spaces–digital, flexible, focused on mastery with more student supports, like the Apple genius bar.” (See iNACOL sponsored CompetencyWorks for more.)
  • Luis de la Fuente, Broad Foundation, “I’m excited about empowering both teachers and students with the tools and the freedom they need to build engaging, collaborative, and rigorous learning experiences. By agreeing on high expectations for student achievement but leaving the “how” to those who know best (educators), I think we’re going to see a lot more innovation in the fabric of school as we know it than we’ve seen in a very long time. And with that will come better outcomes.
  • Brian Greenberg, Silicon Schools Fund, “Moving away from the pacing guide. As we think about personalization and mastery based learning, the biggest obstacle holding us back is the old fashioned concept of a pacing guide that sets the speed of learning for students based on the class average. A minimum pace may still be needed, but certainly not a maximum pace, and certainly not a uniform pace for all students.”
  • Matt Brunel, Building Excellent Schools, “The potential for technology to unlock the literacy gap.”
  • Thackston Lundy, Relay Graduate School, “The potential of badges and other competency models.”

Professional Development

  • Jason Lange, Bloomboard, “Personalized and contextualized learning for teachers too.”
  • Lee Peters, Pearson, “If 2013 was the year of “accountability” for improved educator performance in the face of higher student achievement standards and pressing technology integration expectations, then 2014 should be a year of “coherence” for education leaders as they begin to test powerful combinations of new digital learning concepts and systems to create refreshing learning opportunities and new meaningful connections between their own professional development and their teacher and student populations.”
  • Elizabeth Neale, School Leaders Network, “The shift from passive to interactive learning, not just for kids for teachers and leaders.”
  • Kate Sobel, TNTP, “Coaching principals is valuable but expensive; there is great potential for virtual coaching.”
  • Margot Rogers, Parthenon Group, “Making practitioners, parents and students more a part of the reform process; and defining and creating systems to support great school leadership.

Great Teaching at Scale

  • Michael Barber, Pearson, “2014 will see an increasing focus around the world on delivering improved performance across education systems. The shift from inputs to outcomes will continue. Pearson’s efficacy agenda, set out in The Incomplete Guide to Learning Outcomes is designed to learn from and contribute to this global trend.”
  • Michele Cahill, Carnegie Corporation, “The renewed promise for urgently needed high school redesign I see inSpringpoint‘s work and the serious educator response I see to it.” (see Springpoint: Designing Schools for Success.)
  • Alex Hernandez, Charter School Growth Fund, “Getting students the instruction and support they need, when they need it.”
  • Alicia Herald, MyEdMatch, “The potential to scale good teaching.”
  • Marina Cofield, NYC DOE, “The shift from teaching content to thinking and analyzing.”
  • Kerry Ann Moll, AREL, “Emerging technologies to support teaching and learning that are well-designed and well-integrated – it’s a revolution that can’t be ignored, it’s unavoidable.”
  • Angus McBeath, retired Edmonton superintendent, “Liberating children from the tyranny of one or more years with a bad teacher.”

More Quality Options

  • JIm Blew, Walton Family Foundation, “Providing access to quality education to low income students and families.”
  • Greg Richmond, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, “I’m excited by the continuing growth and diversification of learning opportunities in public education, away from standardized, centralized, one-size-fits-all school buildings and toward diverse, personalized, individualized instruction.
  • Nina Rees, National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, is “Excited to see a greater focus on boosting the quality of charter schools – and the laws that support them – and seeing how the new charters that are being authorized benefit from 20 years of experience in the space, especially in WA which recently enacted one of the strongest laws in the nation!”

It’s exciting to hear these leaders describing high engagement and multi-modal learning environments with cultures that embrace high expectations and provide strong supports–and personalized learning for educators as well as students!

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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1 Comment

Philip Cork

Thanks to you and your contributors for pulling together such an inspring list of things to be excited about as we look forward to improving the education experience for both students and teachers in 2014 and beyond.

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