Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thoughts on the Next Generation Learning Challenges

I've been following the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) (herehere and here) and some of the recent grant winners. If you aren't aware of NGLC, their goal is...
to accelerate educational innovation through applied technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. NGLC is guided by the belief that providing investment capital to expand the use of proven and emerging learning technologies, collecting and sharing evidence of what works, and fostering a community of innovators and adopters will result in a robust pool of solutions and greater institutional adoption which, in turn, will dramatically improve the quality of learning experiences in the United States.
Michael Horn, who served as a reviewer of the launch grants and is the cofounder and the Executive Director of Education at the Christensen Institute, noticed three trends among the current grant winners in a recent Forbes article:
  1. An increasing number of districts are applying for and receiving the grants.
  2. New types of schools, such as New Hampshire's Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) are winning grants. VLACS is an online course provider that uses a 100% self-paced competency-based approach to learning.
  3. Blended-learning programs are not only providing online experiences, but also project-based learning experiences.
My first thought is how great it is that competency-based education is finally finding the recognition that it so rightly deserves. Competencies, which are driven by industry in CTE, have always played a foundational role in career and technical education (CTE).

I'm really excited about the last two topics, project-based learning and Florida Virtual School's (FLVS) Project TAM.

Project-based learning should always have a place in CTE courses as it allows for more analytical, meaningful, and authentic learning. I like the fact that this type of learning is being highlighted in a blended approach across all educational levels.

Julie Young and the team at FLVS plan to use their grant to launch Project TAM, which will "combine a learning platform with a student profile system in which standards-aligned learning objects will be delivered to students as and how they need them—the ultimate in competency-based learning potentially. The project will now provide a blended environment where students learn through individualized online content and flexible, in-person learning."

There is so much potential for the future of digital instruction in CTE and the possibilities continue to grow at such a rapid rate. Project TAM can be a game changer for all of us as education would become truly student centric. Project-based learning and competency-based learning will always be at the core of CTE, but it's also exciting to think of the opportunties of digital delivery and how we can expand our program delivery into new areas.

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