Three years ago Doug Weber and Mick Hewitt had left a web design agency and were consulting on a social network in Japan. During that same time, Cory Reid was CEO of Instructure. Trenton Goble, a school principal, and Mick were training for a marathon and discussing Trenton's frustrations around tracking progress of formative assessments in a mastery learning approach.


2012 is quickly drawing to a close. When the calendar page flips to 2013 in just a couple of weeks, we suspect that the 2014 implementation of the next generation of online assessments is suddenly going to feel much closer. That realization is sure to provoke a wave of high blood pressure fanning out across the land. But - have no fear - the new DLN Smart Series white paper is here!


A reporter asked me what to expect on the education front in 2013. To some extent you'll see an extension of the blog "5 Megatrends That Shaped 2012 Education." But like MOOCs in 2012, there are likely to be a few breakout trends that few predicted.


For many districts, the most important strategy decision will be whether to build a common district plan or encouraging schools to develop their own plans.


Good schools start with good goals. I really like the goal statements from Danville Schools, a small district south of Lexington.


"I'm delighted that openness has gotten to some very closed institutions," said Sir John Daniel. As the former CEO of Commonwealth of Learning and Vice-Chancellor of Open University, he knows a lot about higher education, open education resources (OER), and online learning.


We've heard a lot about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) -- the breakout trend of the year -- but it's still a fringe concept feeding what Clayton Christensen calls non-consumption. The real story is how the diverse web of nearly 5,000 institutions (broadly speaking) of higher learning in the U.S. are responding to cost pressure, calls for higher completion rates and better job preparation, and student demands for relevance.


After Bill Gates saw a series of lectures by David Christian on big history Gates said, "He really blew me away. Here's a guy who's read across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences and brought it together in a single framework. It made me wish that I could have taken big history when I was young, because it would have given me a way to think about all of the school work and reading that followed. In particular, it really put the sciences in an interesting historical context and explained how they apply to a lot of contemporary concerns."


Here at Getting Smart, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve learning. We advocate for tools and schools that work better for students and teachers. We love to see and share stories about engaged learners producing quality products.


What will next generation districts do well? In the last week I've had the opportunity to discuss that question with hundreds of school board members and superintendents.


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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