When I joined the iNACOL board three years ago, I was hoping to see a shift in emphasis from virtual schools to a focus on helping all schools incorporate online and personal digital learning. That shift was evident in the name, Inventing the Future of Learning, and content of the Virtual School Symposium program this week in New Orleans.


This July the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a network of more than 460 academies across the U.S. serving more than 60,000 students, launched a student certification assessment system to drive real college and career readiness. Recently, NAF partnered with ConnectEDU to track college and career readiness by providing real-time reports on engagement and academic progress.


Virtual schools and online courses work better for some kids than others. Some of variance is provider based; some of it is student based. In most cases, there is not very good data on students or providers. A new report explained, "Most state accountability and data systems can't easily provide the information about individual student growth on mastery outcomes that is necessary to produce the answer."


The 20-mile stretch from Stanford University to San Jose, Calif. produces more innovation than any place on the planet. As Richard Florida noted, the unique confluence of a great R1 University, venture investors, tech talent, and great quality of life make it a creative hotspot.


The Rodel Foundation hosted the fifth Vision 2015 Conference. The First State scored first in the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant competition largely because of the vision, organizing, and grantmaking of the Rodel Foundation and its Executive Director Paul Herdman.


Author Bernie Trilling asked, "What would it take for more students to benefit from deeper learning?" Trilling was referring to education that pushes beyond the basics, is engaging and challenging, and prepares young people for college and careers.


Social justice advocates have been working in Oakland for 20 years. Recently, they've been joined by reformers, talent developers, school networks, and investors seeking an affordable Bay Area hub.


Common Sense Media aims to provide "trustworthy information to parents and teens about technology and media." Founder and CEO Jim Styer has been working on this mission for 20 years. He's the author of a new book, Talking Back to Facebook: A Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, a look at how digital media affects the development of young children.


"Provide student the skills and knowledge the will need to be success in the 21st century society." That's the goal of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Deeper Learning initiative. The Foundation convened grantees this week to discuss how to expand access to programs that promote better college and career preparation.


There are lots of Reasons Districts Should Open Flex Schools. Flex schools, as classified by Innosight Institute are small individualized schools with an online curriculum. Students move at their own pace and augment online work with projects, tutoring, and work-based learning. Flex schools create personalized options for students and an example of competency-based learning for educators to visit.


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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