Friday, February 24, 2012

Online Learning and Disruptive Innovation stands to revolutionize K-12 Schools

Online Learning and Disruptive Innovation stands to revolutionize K-12 Schools.

We are seeing the new trends of online learning begin to have a real impact on schools. In particular the shift from classroom-centered to student-centered learning models. What this shift means is that teachers will become facilitators of learning and organize instruction around the needs, motivations, and strengths of each child rather than only hitting some of the needs of the whole class.

As William Gibson has noted, “The future is already here — it's just not evenly distributed.” Innovative districts facing the challenges of the “new normal” will increasingly step forward to adopt some of the most promising educational technology (edtech) innovations, turning model concepts into large-scale solutions that hold promise for helping teachers to efficiently create personal learning environments for every child.

Students will increasingly direct their own learning by becoming self-starting intrinsically motivate learners. This will help to ignite their passions and interests as they chart their own learning pathways toward mastery of state standards and graduation requirements. Without a doubt personalization technologies will mature, empowering teachers to differentiate instruction down to the individual child. A child engaged and switched on to learning is a powerful force. I have experience this many times over the last 13 years while working with students as technology workers. I start by asking them the leading question of what are they interested? Is it software, hardware, or programming? We then help to build their individualized learning plan (ILP). I have seen these students go from just going through the motions of school, to becoming a very engaged learner. They have exceeded the expectations that we would have set for them by far. The final proof as they say is in the pudding. These students have all gone on to be very successful leaders in the industry of their choice.

Ultimately, this shift from nineteenth century classrooms to 21st century learning will put tremendous pressure on schools to offer more flexible instructional models — in online, blended and face-to-face instructional settings — giving students and parent greater choice for how, when and where students learn. It will change the fabric of tradition-industrialized education. It will most likely change the funding of education also. If the public educational systems want to survey paradigm shift as described in the book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

Clayton Christensen , Curtis W. Johnson, Michael B. Horn they will need to make great change in a short amount of time. I once heard this change described as rebuilding an airliner in flight. That would be one heck of a accomplishment. Only time will tell if we as educators have the fortitude to accomplish the task at hand or to go by the way of the east cost steel mills and the dinosaurs of becoming extinct.

Below are my top five predictions for the K-12 education sector in 2012. This is a list of predictions as released by, Compass Learning and modified by me to what changes I also see coming to a school near you.

· Personalization Hits Its Stride: As consumers experience a wider array of intelligent assistants (e.g., Siri) and recommendations engine as (e.g., Netflix) has created in the movie help selections, the demand for intelligent tutors and personalized play lists in school will grow. Innovative edtech companies will continue to work on bringing new levels of personalization to the more complex challenges of K-12 education. Early adopter schools will adapt traditional school structures to take advantage of these new personalization technologies. These schools will increasingly “go digital,” demanding new open learning environments that integrate instructional resources from multiple sources, both commercial and Open Educational Resources (OER), to support this increased personalization. As E2020, Compass learning, and Plato.

· Blended Learning Models Will Grow in Importance: Innovative districts, dioceses, and Charter Management Organizations will launch blended learning pilots within a grade level, academy, or entire school to evaluate the challenges and benefits of modifying traditional school structures to blend technology and face-to-face instruction. We’ll see schools begin to adopt staffing, scheduling and teaching delivery models that adapt to when, where and how each and every student learns. Moreover, use of online courses and instructors will continue to grow, allowing greater scheduling flexibility and choice for students and increasing access to high quality teachers and elective courses. Schools will pilot wider use of controlled social networking sites to support student collaboration, online homework help and tutoring, and online study groups.

· Teacher Effectiveness and Assessment Programs Will Mature: As teachers are the primary factor affecting student success in classrooms, districts will increasingly evaluate whether their professional development programs are helping teachers become more effective. Teacher effectiveness programs will mature, addressing concerns about validity and reliability, combining formative observations with measures of student outcomes. Innovative districts will reward highly effective teachers to keep the best teachers in the classroom.

· Technology Will Play a Major Role: As school districts look for cost-effective device strategies, tablets (BYOD) and low-cost laptops/netbooks or other 1-to-1 devices will increasingly be a part of the day-to-day solution. Moreover, as security protocols improve, districts will increasingly allow students to bring their own devices and will consider cloud-based solutions, moving instructional content, learning applications, assessment, and student work and student data to cloud-based hosting environments.

· Improved Data Interoperability Will Be Key to Achieving Next-Generation Learning Goals: Open digital learning environments, cloud-based applications, and greater personalization based on big data will require new data standards that enable applications to communicate and build on one another’s services, and enable schools, students, and parents to make sense of it all. The Gates Shared Learning Infrastructure and the IMS Instructional Innovation through Interoperability Leadership Council (I3LC) are pushing aggressively to understand these challenges and work with states, districts, and commercial developers to develop these standards.

· Budgets Will Continue to Be an Issue: State and district budgets will continue to be very tight in 2012, reflecting the new normal until the economy improves and state and local budgets improve. Districts, schools and teachers will be expected to do more with less.

This is a very stress full and exciting time for the educational sector as innovation and the move to personalized learning models really begin to take root. I tend to look at this in the light of Opportunities and Challenges, as this is all that life really can offer us. School districts will certainly be challenged to think differently in terms of how they empower teachers and design roadmaps to success for students. Those School districts that embrace change and innovation in the classroom will see the most student success and transformation in learning. As a butterfly transforms from a larva into a cocoon and then into this new amazing form of the butterfly, so could the educational system of today.

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I am the Director of Technology at a K-12 School system.