Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium in Orlando, Florida. Given the symposium’s name, some might not guess this event would be all about learner-centered education. Well, they’d be wrong! It was populated by incredible learner-centered teachers, principals, superintendents, and state administrators working on the frontier of transforming the education system from one designed to deliver standardized education to one that puts learners at the center and redesigns learning environments to be adaptable to the needs, interests, and aspirations of each child.
I learned about innovation happening all over the country. In Chicago, teachers are work-ing with LEAP Innovations to learn and collaborate together to create anytime, anywhere (open-walled); learner-led (learner agency); learner-paced (competency-based); and learner-focused (personalized, relevant, and contextualized) environments. In New Hampshire, eight districts are using new locally-developed competency-based assessments to gauge their learners’ development—in fact, they are the first districts in the country to have the US Department of Education waive high stakes standardized testing requirements. And, I heard from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about their investments in practitioners’ work and in research to support that work. It’s happening all over the place!
In addition to meeting all of these courageous pioneers, I moderated an incredible closing keynote panel of two Education Reimagined Advisory Board members—Becky Pringle, the Vice-President of NEA, and Gisèle Huff, the Executive Director of the Jaquelin Hume Foundation. It was thrilling to hear from two people who, 2 1/2 years ago, couldn’t have imagined being on stage together sharing about a commonly held vision for education. They are now equally committed to realizing this vision and to doing so together.
My major takeaway from the conference echoes the vision: “Learner-centered education is an idea whose time has come.” Though people are starting in different places and digging in deep in different aspects of the vision, there are thousands already headed in the same direction.
Education Reimagined is excited to help connect those people and create the spaces for people to share, learn, and create together. Onward!