My predictions over the last few years have come true. It has been demonstrated that any classroom can implement blended learning and, when done well, get superior results. Personalized learning is now part of an increasing number of district and school strategic plans. Organizations like XQ Super School Project and the newly formed Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are continuing to push everyone’s interest in personalized learning.
So what’s in store for 2016?
- Districts implementing personalized learning across the district will more than double.
- There will be greater focus on the whole student.
- Common Core in its originally conceived form is DOA.
- Companies providing value-added professional services along with technology will gain the market share.
- Teachers and administrators will also demand personalized professional development with a louder voice.
#1 Districts implementing personalized learning across the district will more than double. For the past couple of years, a few early adopter districts have implemented personalized learning district-wide and those districts have seen results. The results are not only better academic achievement, but also more engaged students and enthusiastic teachers and school leaders. Personalized learning and blended learning has positively impacted organizational culture in ways other strategies have not in education.
#2 There will be greater focus on the whole student. Through personalized learning, schools are creating more opportunities to incorporate student voice and choice, reflection, and deeper learning. It is promising to see in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that schools need to report on at least one additional indicator like student engagement, educator engagement, access, etc. I think this will make a huge difference in how districts and schools think about data.
#3 Common Core in its originally conceived form is DOA. The concept of Common Core catalyzed a lot of thinking around traditional standards and focused on the development of curriculum and assessments which demonstrated deeper learning. However, in its original form it’s pretty dead. Most states are making custom versions and using aspects of Common Core as a foundation. A lot of money and time was spent on creating the Common Core Standards and overall it had a positive impact for education. It forced curriculum providers to re-align and develop fresh content. It created new solutions in education and developed a new level of interest for talent to come into education, even if it won’t ever really exist in its original form.
#4 Companies providing value-added professional services along with technology will gain the market share. With hundreds of new and promising solutions for education coming into the market, districts are telling me that it’s not only more confusing, but also that it’s impossible to keep up with the rapid change in the market. With a growing market of edtech companies, some will come and go. Others will be merged and consolidated. It’s the natural ebb and flow of a market. I anticipate noticeable consolidation in the next 18-24 months. Organizations that can partner with districts to select, implement, and train multiple solutions as a one-stop shop will grow more quickly. First, there is a limited number of professional development days teachers have in collective bargaining agreements. As a result, there is no way a district can accommodate all the training required by a multiplicity of different solutions providers. Secondly, districts want partners not vendors. They want to work with organizations that get to know the district and the people that work there. The partners need to understand the intricacies of the district in order to support them in successful implementations.
#5 Teachers and administrators will also demand personalized professional development with a louder voice. Everyone realizes that teachers and administrators are at different skill levels and have different degrees of background knowledge. To date, most professional development targeted the middle, like the instruction in our classrooms. Professional development providers generally provided the same depth of instruction to rows of teachers in lecture style rooms. Typically, engagement was low in these sessions and attendance was managed through credits or stipends. As teachers and administrators get more exposure to personalized and blended learning, they will start demanding more of it for themselves. And why not? That is how they learn outside of work today.
So needless to say, I’m pretty excited about 2016 and the progress we’ve been making with personalized learning. We have already seen the impact of work/life integration through technology. I’m hopeful that in the next few years, we will see learning/life integration. Instead of “learning” in the school day and school calendar, students will experience complete integration of learning and their life at school and outside of school. Education Elements is continuing to think big about the potential of this and continuing to stay at the forefront of this evolution in teaching and learning.