Last month, two remarkable leaders from opposite ends of the education policy world shared their joint vision for the transformation of elementary and secondary education in the United States.
Gisèle Huff, the executive director of the San Francisco-based Jaquelin Hume Foundation, and Becky Pringle, the vice president of the National Education Association, unveiled the product of their extensive collaboration at a conference hosted by the International Association of K-12 Online Learning. Their collaboration was facilitated over 18 months by the Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization Convergence, and was also signed by 26 other leaders of disparate education organizations.
Together they described their commitment to a complete transformation where all students are owning their own learning, one where the introduction of technology is an integral part of the curriculum. “To contextualize the transformation of education, we see a paradigm shift – from the Industrial Age’s school-centric paradigm to a new, learner-centered, network-era paradigm,” their statement begins.
Dr. Huff is a national leader for K-12 educational models that personalize learning for all students, aided by the integration of classroom technology. The Hume Foundation, which she has led for the past 16 years, is identified with many of the nation’s most prominent conservative policy organizations, but has recently refocused its support toward personalized, blended learning initiatives. “It’s very important to understand that we have to make kids love learning intrinsically for themselves,” Huff said, “and give them the tools and develop what that they need within themselves to take charge of their learning.”
The “transformational vision” constructs a new design for learning based on five interrelated elements:
Competency-based learning, where mastery of skills drives student advancement rather than fixed time spent in a classroom.
Personalized, relevant and contextualized learning.
Learning characterized by learner agency at the active initiative and pace of students.
Socially embedded learning emphasizing connections and interactions with teachers, peers and others.
Open-walled learning to supplement instruction with authentic, rich and diverse learning experiences.
Pringle, the second in command at the nation’s largest union of educators, explained that in her own experience, “Too many of our kids aren’t excited about their future, because they can’t imagine what’s possible for them.” She believed it imperative to allow students to actually own their education experience, and to find meaningful ways to support them in that ownership.
In arriving at their vision for personalizing learning, Pringle asserted that, “We had to figure out how to address the needs of our students who have the greatest challenges, who come to us with the greatest needs.”
Signatories of the vision document also include American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Brookings Institution scholar Stuart Butler, and Marc Porter Magee, CEO of national education reform nonprofit 50CAN.
Essential to this learner-centered vision for education is the notion that technology is an integrated component, but not an end in itself. Noting its potential to both increase accessibility and reduces costs, the declaration explains that, “technology integrates diverse sources of learning experiences, embeds assessment seamlessly into learning…and enables coordination among networks of learners and adults.”
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