Deeper Learning Really IS Everywhere

This article, originally posted on the Alliance for Excellent Education‘s blog by Ariana Witt, features a description of the latest work in Deeper Learning by a variety of partner groups including the Alliance, Knowledge Works, and Jobs for the Future. The teaching profession is in the midst of profound change, and the need for more teacher leaders is pronounced. Teachers who are “learning about learning” are becoming Deeper Learning practitioners. Deeper Learning is everywhere.

Ariana Witt

In a webinar on February 18, Robert Rothman, Senior Fellow at the Alliance, and Chip Slaven, Counsel to the President and Senior Advocacy Advisor at the Alliance, were joined by Chris Kingsley, Associate Director for Local Policy and Advocacy for Data Quality Campaign to discuss how learning data can improve education by offering students a more personalized student-centric approach to learning. The webinar focused on a recent report authored by Rothman titled Data Dashboards: Accounting for What Matters.

In the latest entry in the Alliance’s “Core of the Matter” blog series, Lillian Pace, Senior Director of National Policy at KnowledgeWorks, discusses how the Common Core State Standards have “opened the gate” to personalized learning in K-12 classrooms, benefitting all students but being especially important for those who previously struggled to engage in learning. Pace writes: ”These classrooms are busy, noisy, and at first glance, distracting. But the closer you look, the more you realize that the noise and activity are signs that every student is engaged in his or her learning journey.”

A survey of 100,000 teachers in 34 countries suggests ways schools can structure teacher learning to support improved instruction. The knowledge young people need to succeed today is much different from that of the past. With deeper learning, Linda Darling-Hammond, Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), and Dion Burns, Research Analyst at SCOPE argue that deeper learning provides that opportunity, shifting from not what is taught, but how it is taught.

“For today’s students to effectively compete in the global workforce, they must develop the skills, understandings, and mindsets necessary to prepare them for the careers and challenges of tomorrow.” A recent study from Digital Promise titled Developing a System of Micro-credentials: Supporting Deeper Learning in the Classroom explores deeper learning framework while identifying six key skills categories students must master in order to gain deeper learning skills, including: “master academic content, work collaboratively,” and “learn how to learn.”

Congress is in the throes of rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), with assessments at the forefront of discussion. In a recent blog, Linda Darling-Hammond, Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), proposed changes to the law that would support systems of assessment that supports deeper learning.

In a newly released report, Nancy Hoffman, Vice President and Senior Advisor at Jobs For The Future, argues that when it comes to the phrase “college and career readiness” educators should focus in more on the career half of that equation. Among her reasoning, Hoffman writes, while education is certainly a prerequisite for success in the workforce, the reverse is often true, as well: “Work can provide powerful opportunities for education.”

Are you an educator who “cares deeply about preparing students for college and the careers of tomorrow” with the use of the deeper learning model? From April 1-3, High Tech High in San Diego, California hosted Deeper Learning 2015, an annual conference where leading organizations in deeper learning convened to collaborate and push each other’s thinking on deeper learning competencies. Based on concept of ‘digging deep,’ and ‘daring greatly’ DL2015 touts the idea that “Deeper Learning is everywhere.

In Roanoke County, Virginia, students with special needs are taking part in ‘Makerspace,’ a learning project promoting critical thinking and problem solving through hands-on-learning. With Makerspace, these students have multiple ways to reach a goal and are only limited by their imagination.

For many teachers across the country, learning about learning has become really interesting. There are so many choices and modes of learning, at a teachers fingertips. That’s the power of personalized learning — but not yet an experience most teachers have.


This post is part of our “Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning” series. To learn more about Deeper Learning environments for students, teachers and leaders check out:

Ariana Witt is a communications associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education. You can follow her on Twitter @arianacw.

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