In August of 2012, we embarked on a journey with John Bailey and Digital Learning Now! (DLN) to chart a course for leaders who were exploring new digital learning territory. Over the last year we brought 11 contributing authors on board. These thought leaders in online and blended learning--representing organizations like iNACOL, CompetencyWorks, The Learning Accelerator and Public Impact--expanded the expertise and experience of our crew.


"We moved our school from a "C" on our first progress report to an "A," thanks in no small part to the work we engaged in at SLN." This principal quote sums up the work of the School Leaders Network--results focused, collaborative learning for principals.


There are a couple dozen sophisticated and effective school leader preparation organizations (e.g., 28 members of the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership network). They typically supplement the haphazard and ineffective current landscape of degrees and credentials criticized by Arthur Levine in Educating School Leaders.


The Achievement School District was created to "catapult the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee straight to the top 25% in the state." Like the Louisiana RSD and the Michigan EAA, the Tennessee ASD is the state turnaround district and it's posting promising results. The ASD seeks to "dramatically expand our students' life and career options, engage parents and community members in new and exciting ways, and ensure a bright future for the state of Tennessee."


Advanced Placement courses offer a great opportunity for rigorous college preparation. Successful completion (usually with a score of 3 or better on a 5 point scale) yields college credit in all the most selective colleges. However, AP courses can be difficult to staff and expensive to offer.


In contrast to top down stand-and-deliver professional development, professional learning communities (PLCs) are typically teacher created initiatives that extend learning opportunities and foster collaboration. PLCs often reflect disciplines, districts, projects, and policy responses. Schools are increasingly creating PLCs to organize teachers into working groups.


IDEA Public Schools is a high performing K-12 charter network with 30 schools with a current enrollment of over 15, 000 serving low income communities in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Austin. Virtually all of their students graduate and go to college.


Middlebury Interactive, a joint venture between Middlebury College and K12 Inc., is a leader in world language instruction for K-12 students. The partnership will serve about 200,000 K-12 students this year in more than 1,200 traditional and virtual schools. The most frequent application is in a blended learning environment.


The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) is Michigan's school improvement district (like the LA RSD and TN ASD). It operates 12 schools in Detroit and has partnered with School Improvement Network to develop a student-centered competency-based school model.


When we launched the Blended Learning Implementation Guide with Digital Learning Now!'s John Bailey and The Learning Accelerator's Scott Ellis in February, we knew that it was just the first iteration of what would be an evolving document. What we didn't know is that version 1.0 of the Guide would need updated just six months later.


The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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