It's great if you think you have a good sense of how a next-generation school would work, but good luck trying to get funding. Most school districts don't have a process to respond to new school proposals much less funding them. And good luck getting a grant for a charter school before you get a charter approved (i.e., when you really need the money). That's why, given the emerging potential for personalization, the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) is a timely and important program.


San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) appears to be in a time warp. Yesterday, I outlined the leadership role that the Bay Area, especially the city of San Francisco, plays in learning innovation. However, the contrast between one of the most creative cities on the planet and the local school districts is stark.


The Bay Area is unquestionably the world's leading innovation hub--and that includes learning. Ten years ago it was all about Silicon Valley, but recently Oakland emerged as an edreform hotspot.


"I think Portland is incredibly interesting," said venture investor Brad Feld in a recent article. "They have a smart counterculture of people."


When I visit with superintendents, principals, teachers, and school board members, I always ask them what they are worried about. With plans for high-access environments, tech support is on everybody's list. So, I called Keith Krueger and Denise Shorey from CoSN.


Shelly Blake-Plock wrote an impassioned blog recently claiming, "edtech doesn't exist." He argued for a "thrust of imagination and creativity" that combines semantic web and "new forms of interaction between the Internet and humans."


Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World is a new report from the EdTech Office at the Department of Education. "The report discusses the promise of sophisticated digital learning systems for collecting and analyzing very large amounts of fine-grained data ("big data") as users interact with the systems," said Karen Cator, the outgoing EdTech Director.


Chicago has a long history of learning innovation. DeVry launched career schools more than 75 years ago and was one of the first to serve returning vets under the GI bill. Chicago is also home to Career Education Corporation which serves 90,000 students from 90 worldwide campuses and online.


Christopher Nyren made a strong case that Chicago, not New York, is the second city for education innovation, "For over a generation, Chicago has served as the epicenter of for-profit, technology-enabled education entrepreneurship and investment."


"We are introducing the blended learning model into South Africa to provide quality education at a cost that the country can afford," said Stacey Brewer, a recent MBA graduate following the now prevalent U.S. trend of smart kids becoming edupreneurs.


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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