Education Elements March 2017 Newsletter
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March 2017 Newsletter

On Our Minds


New Administration, New Challenges and Opportunities

Last month we witnessed the contentious confirmation of Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education. As champions of personalized learning and public school districts, we are hopeful that Devos will reframe her perspectives on choice and recognize that we can provide excellent opportunities for students within districts. It is too early to determine the impact that her confirmation will have on education, but we are watching closely and prepared to support our districts however we can. Check out perspectives on her role from our founder and CEO, Anthony Kim and board member, Michael Horn.


Announcing our Personalized Learning Summit Speakers

Is it possible that this year’s keynotes will top last year’s? We are excited to welcome 5 speaker-leaders. This year’s keynotes include:

  • Brad Montague, the creator of Kid President, who will share his thoughts on education, joy, hope and how adults and kids can work together to make the world a better place
  • Kaya Henderson, former Chancellor of DC Public Schools, who will join Anthony Kim, founder of Education Elements, for a conversation about her experiences in ensuring that every student gets the excellent education they deserve
  • Pastor Ray Owens, Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church of Tulsa and founder of MetCares, who will discuss the connections between communities and schools and
  • Lily Hall, a 4th grader, and Brad Molina, a 9th grader, both from RUSD, who will share the impact personalized learning has had on their lives

Just five more reasons you don’t want to miss the 3rd Personalized Learning Summit and the chance to power up your personalized learning powers.

Design Spotlight


How To Avoid "Initiative Overload"

In just about every district where we work, we encounter “initiative overload” - the sense that programs, policies, or priorities are overwhelming everyone from students to teachers to district staff.

So when recently began working with a client on building a plan for using Open Education Resources (OER), we asked a fairly straightforward question: “Is this a new initiative?”

For our district stakeholders the answer was a clear “no” - using OER to fill in curriculum gaps was simply offering a new set of desperately needed resources. However, we discussed that when teachers are encouraged to use new tools and attend trainings on how to do so, that starts to feel like...another initiative.

How do you guard against this discrepancy? For one, it can be helpful for your organization to clearly define terms like “program”, “priority”, or “initiative” - terms that are often used simultaneously. But semantics will only take you so far.

We believe it is critical to spend time with teams thinking deeply about some essential questions before embarking on work that will ask stakeholders to rethink core tools or practices. We root that process in design thinking, carefully considering questions like the following:

  • Diagnosis: What problem are we trying to solve?
  • Ideation: What is the range of solutions that will address the problem?
  • Alignment: How does our solution align with existing organizational programs and priorities?
  • Impact: Who exactly will be impacted, and how?

Often a single solution will be perceived differently by different stakeholders. With OER, for example, board members might be most interested in the budget savings from free content, while teachers value the opportunity to replace outdated textbooks.  

In any case, we believe it is critical that before bringing a solution to stakeholders, teams understand the problem it addresses from a variety of perspectives and can speak to connections with other work. Otherwise, even the slightest programmatic change can become an “initiative.”


Recent Blog Posts


BYOT (Bring Your Own Thoughts)!

Check out these recent posts from our blog, BYOT:



Discover our new Competency-Based Education Framework and get your district started with its CBE journey.


Competency Based Education


Agenda Sneak Peak!

Discover the Personalized Learning Pathways and start planning your experience at our PL Summit.

Join us for our 3rd annual Personalized Learning Summit!

Join us for our 3rd annual Personalized Learning Summit on May 10-12, in San Francisco CA. Register now and have the chance to learn while having fun and connecting with 500 personalized learning leaders and experts.

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Education Elements in the News

People are talking about us and about you!

Places to Meet Up

Connect with us at these events: 

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We Want to Hear from YOU!

Thanks to those who responded to last month’s survey! We learned that most people agree Student Engagement is the biggest benefit of personalized learning (61%), followed by Improved Learning, as indicated by test scores and other measures (18%). Click below for this month’s survey question!

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