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How Education Can Unleash Genius

How Education Can Unleash Genius | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
Fostering ingenuity, creativity, and imagination is a cornerstone responsibility of education and society as a whole. Here are 9 tips for cultivating these essential skills.
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Frontiers of Digital Learning Probed by Researchers

Frontiers of Digital Learning Probed by Researchers | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
They are examining how emerging technologies facilitate new types of hands-on learning, and how technology can provide a window into students’ thinking.
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Developing a Syste of Micro-credentials Supporting Deeper Learning in the Classroom

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From Visible Thinking Routines to 5 Modern Learning Routines

From Visible Thinking Routines to 5 Modern Learning Routines | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
I have been a fan of Visible Thinking Routines which were developed by Project Zero from Havard, for a while now. I have used these routines with students, as  blogging routines and in professional...

Via Beth Dichter
Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, January 31, 7:25 PM

Teachers are first amongst equals in classrooms. Their role modeling of learning is essential to the learning of students.



veroco's curator insight, February 10, 12:42 PM

Nice vision : the "modern learning" routines => Read - Comment - Write / Watch - Do - Teach / Contribute - Feedback - Grow... 

Dr. Deborah Brennan's curator insight, April 2, 9:34 AM

These thinking routines can help teachers move toward teaching processes for learning rather than content alone.  In the era of ever increasing knowledge, we need to help students learn how to learn.


That being said, these routines can also be used as a model for teachers by using them as options for professional development, 

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New Microsoft Office 365 Integrations

New Microsoft Office 365 Integrations | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
Along with the OneNote integration, discussed in my last post, the work with Microsoft Open Technologies has also produced two integrations with Offi
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Laying the Foundation for Competency Education: A Policy Guide for the Next Generation Educator Workforce | KnowledgeWorks

Laying the Foundation for Competency Education: A Policy Guide for the Next Generation Educator Workforce | KnowledgeWorks | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

Growing numbers of states and districts are embracing competency education, focusing on student mastery of critical competencies instead of seat-time requirements that communicate little about the quality of learning. This approach provides students with highly personalized learning pathways to ensure mastery of the academic knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in college and careers. While competency education continues to spread to schools across the country, the current system is not structured to provide educators with the preparation and training required to excel in these new environments. Our nation’s educator preparation and development systems must keep pace, aligning to create a profession that benefits from the same level of personalization that defines competency-based schools. - See more at:

Dr. Gordon Dahlby's insight:

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Call for Proposals | DML2015

Call for Proposals | DML2015 | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

 five themes listed below:

1. Blurring Boundaries: Broadening Equitable Access Within and Between Learning Institutions and Networks
Chair: Samuel Dyson

2. Expanding Freedoms through Digital Media Design and Practice Locally and Globally
Chair: Glynda Hull

3. Digital Media and Youth Civic Engagement: Designs for Learning, Teaching and Action
Chair: Ernest Morrell

4. Open Learning/Educational Technologies
Chair: Audrey Watters

5. Equity By Design
Chair: Kris Gutierrez

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Conundrums in competency | Christensen Institute

Conundrums in competency | Christensen Institute | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

Over the past several weeks I’ve attended a number of conferences where competency-based (or mastery-based) education was a hot topic. On the whole, there seems to be growing enthusiasm for adopting competency-based approaches that allow students to advance upon mastery and that deploy authentic assessments to test what students can do across disciplines. My conversations at these conferences, however, have convinced me that there are some philosophical and practical areas that administrators are still grappling with. This is a short list of questions that keep coming up in discussions and debates: - See more at:

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The Evergreen Education Group and Christensen Institute launch project to find and publicize examples of success in blended learning « Keeping Pace

The Evergreen Education Group and Christensen Institute launch project to find and publicize examples of success in blended learning « Keeping Pace | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
If your public school or district fits the criteria below, please visit to fill out the short survey telling us about your success.


Evergreen Education Group and Christensen Institute are launching a project to find and publicize examples of success in blended learning.

We believe that proof points will help practitioners who need to demonstrate to a variety of stakeholders that blended learning can be successful in a setting that the stakeholders are familiar with. We intend therefore to publish case studies that collectively will cover a variety of elements including different geographic areas, school/district sizes, and urban/suburban/rural characteristics.

Specifically, we are seeking:

Examples from regular traditional public schools and districts, not including specialized schools or charter schools.Blended learning implementations that can demonstrate improvements in outcomes based on student achievement as determined by assessments, course grades, or other measures.A range of implementation types, geographic areas, student populations, grade levels, and subject areas.

We will review all submissions, and through evaluations of the survey responses and follow-up interviews, determine the best examples that represent an assortment of blended learning successes. Case studies will be developed based on these examples. We will invite the schools that are selected to be featured in the case studies to co-present with us at the November 2015 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium. Evergreen and Christensen will pay a portion of expenses to defer travel costs.

The survey is short and will take no more than about 10-15 minutes. If your program fits what we are seeking we look forward to hearing from you! The survey will remain open through Sunday, October 19.

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How States Perform Using State Performance Standards vs. TIMSS Internationally Benchmarked Common Standards

How States Perform Using State Performance Standards vs. TIMSS Internationally Benchmarked Common Standards | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

State performance standards represent how much the state expects the student to learn in order to be considered proficient in reading, mathematics, and science. This AIR infographic shows that there is considerable variance in state performance standards, exposing a large gap in expectations between the states with the highest standards and the states with the lowest standards.

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4 Steps to Successfully Personalize Learning in Your School

Note: Elliot Sanchez, the founder and CEO of mSchool, is guest posting this week.


So far this week I've had the opportunity to discuss some elements of starting a personalized learning program that I think are crucial and too often overlooked. Some of these topics get overlooked because they're big picture ideas that may not be obvious in the day-to-day routine, and others seem so mundane that it can be easy to overlook their importance.

I'm very grateful to Rick for inviting me to sit in this week, so I wanted to make the most of my last post and touch briefly on 4 steps that I think are critical when launching a personalized learning initiative, even if there isn't time or space to do them justice here. This list isn't comprehensive, but I've yet to see a program succeed that didn't take these 4 steps along the way. 

1. Define the scope of your plan (a.k.a. know when to say no)

Personalized learning, as we discussed previously, isn't new. Recent innovations have come from schools and districts finding ways to scale up personalize learning, but just because something can't yet be implemented universally doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. A pilot can be as simple as integrating an online, competency-based intervention into your classroom for a few minutes every day. It can also be as complex as building your reading unit plans from the ground up around student interest inventories. Both could be exciting additions to your school, and if you decide to start simple, fight the temptation to add complexity mid-stream.

For those who are interested in seeing an example of a school built entirely around the personalized journey of each student, I recommend taking a look at Acton Academy. Laura and Jeff Sandefer have designed a project-based learning model that combines a Socratic, student-led environment with the efficiency of the latest academic games. I had a chance to visit Acton this spring, and the students' ownership of their learning was like nothing I'd ever seen. (You can also see what it'd take to start your own Acton Academy.)

2. Make sure you've got the right tools for the job

Earlier this year, the Gates Foundation released a report called "Teachers Know Best" that counted over 950 digital instruction tools available to teachers. Depressingly, only 55 percent of teachers said those tools were effective in helping students reach their goals. With that many options, it's no surprise that almost half of teachers weren't able to sort through them to find the right tools to help their students succeed.

When our organization helps schools sort through these questions, I often hear stories of schools' unsuccessful attempts to integrate technology into the classroom. Most often, the root cause is bringing in curricula or resources that aren't appropriate for the academic goals of the school. There can be a number of reasons for that, but be sure that whoever makes the ultimate decision is both qualified and well-versed in the technological landscape.

3. Don't discount the day-to-day experience

After a potentially lengthy and complex design process, it can be tempting to feel satisfied and assume the pieces will fall into place once students begin working. It's one type of challenge to determine the most effective combination of programs and interventions for a particular student to reach his or her academic potential. It's an entirely different type of challenge to figure out how to guide and adjust the progress of 250 students on 250 personalized paths, some of which may never converge.

I think the best solutions require a more comprehensive commitment to personalization, like what you'll find in Adams County School District 50 in Westminster, CO. Since 2010, the district has used a "systemic & systematic" competency-based system in which time is variable but learning each standard to proficiency is constant. While the transition was not an easy one, the district sought out and received support from parents and educators at each step along the way. The hard work is paying off--early results from this year show a continued pattern of improvement and more consistent growth than any other district in the Denver metropolitan area.

4. Make relationships and mindsets an explicit part of the plan

As educators, we've all seen the difference that students' mindsets make when they enter the classroom, and it's no coincidence that the most effective educators have the ability to shape students' perspectives so that they're engaged and excited about the material. The personalized approach ensures that the material is deeply relevant to each student's needs, which can have a transformational impact on student attitudes and engagement. Without the support and attention of teachers, however, that transformation won't happen on its own.

The shift from a traditional lecture format to a more dynamic, individually-driven model means that responsibility for learning falls squarely on the students. That new responsibility immediately motivates some students, but for others it can be disorienting and potentially discouraging. At mSchool, we try to tackle this issue by providing lessons throughout the year based on the work of researchers like Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth around the mindsets that students need for success. Khan Academy recently released a campaign called #youcanlearnanything to address a similar need. In both the research and our experience, there's a marked contrast between students who spend time working on these skills and those who don't. Even if students are spending more time using technology, there's no getting around the human need to see our work as part of a larger story of growth.

These are intended to be jumping-off points for further discussion and planning, hopefully guiding the conversation in a direction that surfaces the most important issues quickly. We are still in the early days of a much larger shift toward personalization, and, although there will certainly be challenges, I believe the progress continues because the benefits for students are more compelling each day. Students come to us as individuals--it's only appropriate that the most learning occurs when we treat them that way.

--Elliot Sanchez


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The Difference Between Differentiation And Personalized Learning

The Difference Between Differentiation And Personalized Learning | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
The Difference Between Differentiation And Personalized Learning
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Should Mandatory "Seat Time" Requirements Exist?

Should Mandatory "Seat Time" Requirements Exist? | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
Is mandatory seat time necessary for learning or is it just another antiquated hoop for students to jump through as they play school? What do you think?
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How to enhance your lessons with Google Art Project

How to enhance your lessons with Google Art Project | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius. Google Art Project is one of my favorite tools available online. It is a repository of high resolution images and 3D “museum view” virtual art galler...

Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa)
Miguel Damiani's curator insight, April 22, 10:41 AM

¿Conoces algo sobre el Art Project de Google? Podría ser muy util para tus clases

GwynethJones's curator insight, April 22, 9:51 PM

Cool beans!

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ISTE Infographic: Ready, set, blend!

ISTE Infographic: Ready, set, blend! | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
The basic cognitive skills needed by previous generations are no longer enough. Students in the conceptual age must also master the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, including creation, metacognition and self-actualization.

“It will require an upgrade to our curriculum, new instructional methods and materials, a new profile of a global graduate and an open mind,” say Smith, Chavez and Seaman.

For ideas about how to re-create your classroom for the conceptual age, including potential classroom setups, blended learning models to mix and match, and a curriculum design process, take a look at the infographic

Via Dennis T OConnor
Bobbi Dunham's curator insight, February 10, 11:55 AM

Big fan of info graphics! 

Suzanne's curator insight, February 11, 7:53 AM

Learning and teaching in the conceptual age.

Ricard Garcia's curator insight, February 12, 2:24 AM

How to implement a new classroom and learning paradigm: A nice outline

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Khan Academy releases new iPad app

Khan Academy releases new iPad app | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
The app, released Tuesday, was created using a $2.25 million grant from AT&T.
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Interactive World Map Showing Pre-2020 Action by Countries

quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets for all developed countries

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It's About Time — IDEA

It's About Time — IDEA | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

Learning Time and Educational Opportunity in California High Schools
Executive Summary
November 2014
California high school teachers are constantly racing against the clock. They are expected to
provide a strong college preparatory curriculum, promote critical and creative thinking, and meet
students’ social and emotional needs. Learning time is an essential resource for addressing all of
these goals. But, it seems to be in short supply in many California high schools.
This report draws on a statewide teacher survey to examine how learning time is distributed
across California high schools. The survey, conducted by UCLA IDEA during the 2013-2014
school year, included a representative sample of nearly 800 teachers. These teachers work at a
demographically diverse set of schools and hail from every region of the state.
Throughout the report, we compare learning time across three groups of high schools:
1) Low Poverty Schools (0-25% of students receive Free or Reduced Price Lunch);
2) Low and Mixed Poverty Schools (0-50% of students receive Free or Reduced Price
3) High Poverty Schools (75-100% of students receive Free or Reduced Price Lunch).
Core findings include:
•Teachers in High Poverty Schools are more likely than their peers to report that learning
time is undermined by problems with school facilities, lack of access to school libraries
and technology, and insufficient qualified substitute teachers.
•High school teachers reported that 3-4 times more students in High Poverty Schools than
in Low Poverty Schools experience a variety of economic and social stressors that impact
learning time, such as unstable housing, hunger, and lack of access to medical or dental
care. On any given day, there is a 39% chance that these stressors affect learning time in
a High Poverty School classroom compared to a 13% chance in a Low Poverty School
•High Poverty Schools experience greater time loss than other schools in the state during
class periods due to interruptions, delays, or routines. Much of this time loss results
from institutional challenges such as incorporating new students after the school year
starts or receiving phone calls from the main office. Instructional time lost in these ways
adds up. Over the course of an average day, students in High Poverty Schools lose
roughly 30 minutes more than their counterparts in Low Poverty Schools due to these
factors during class periods.
•In addition to losing more time during class periods, High Poverty Schools experience a
number of other disruptions that cut into scheduled instructional time across the school
calendar. High Poverty Schools face more disrupted or lost days than other schools due to teacher absences, emergency lockdowns, and preparation for standardized tests. Over
the course of the year, High Poverty Schools lose almost ten days more than Low Poverty
Schools (22.3 days to 12.6 days).
•Teachers in High Poverty Schools spend more time than their peers attending to a
variety of non-instructional duties, from supervising students during lunch to taking care
of janitorial and clerical tasks to covering classes for absent colleagues. Over the course
of an average week, teachers in High Poverty Schools spend an hour more than their
counterparts in Low Poverty Schools on these non-teaching responsibilities.
•Teachers in High Poverty Schools spend as much time as their peers planning lessons,
offering written feedback to student work, and providing academic support.
•Teachers in High Poverty Schools report addressing a variety of important academic,
social, and long-term planning issues with their students more frequently than teachers in
Low Poverty Schools or Low and Mixed Poverty Schools. Teachers in High Poverty
Schools spend substantially more time than their peers discussing community problems
and various forms of societal inequality, providing social or emotional counseling, and
offering college and career guidance.
This study highlights the need for renewed attention to questions about equal access to learning
time. California holds students to a common set of assessment standards and requirements for
university admission. Yet students have access to markedly different amounts of instructional
time depending on the neighborhoods in which they live. It is true that schools can use available
learning time in more or less effective ways. But the amount of available learning time creates a
ceiling, limiting the capacity of the school to promote student achievement and development.
No one could or would defend a system of public education that required students attending High
Poverty Schools to finish their school year two weeks before their peers in Low Poverty Schools.
Nor would anyone defend sending students from High Poverty Schools home a half hour early
each day. California now supports an educational system that produces these effects. Through
new and targeted investment, this inequality can be transformed. It’s about time.
To view the full document, visit:
Made possible by a grant from The Ford Foundation
Prepared by:
The Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA)
University of California, Los Angeles
© University of California, Los Angeles IDEA, 2014
Citation: Rogers, J., Mirra, N., Seltzer, M., & Jun, J. (2014). It’s About Time:
Learning Time and Educational Opportunity in California High Schools. Los
Angeles: IDEA.

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UNESCO launches World Library of Science - Free Online Science Education Resource

UNESCO launches World Library of Science - Free Online Science Education Resource | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
The World Library of Science aims to provide students with free access to the latest science information as well as a hub to connect with peers.

Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa)
Natale Giordano's curator insight, November 14, 2014 10:37 AM

E' on line la Biblioteca Mondiale delle Scienze

María Dolores Díaz Noguera's curator insight, November 15, 2014 7:05 AM

UNESCO launches World Library of Science - Free Online Science Education Resource | @scoopit via @TDOttawa

Javier Antonio Bellina's curator insight, December 2, 2014 9:06 AM

Biblioteca de Ciencias UNESCO

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12 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School

12 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
By Tom Vander Ark - 12 potential benefits of flex schools that every district should consider for students, teachers and communities.


Flex model programs or schools have anonline curriculum with onsite support. This category of blended learning is more common in high school because it requires a good deal of independent study. TheChristensen Institute describes flex models this way:

Students move on an individually customized, fluid schedule among learning modalities. The teacher of record is on-site, and students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments. The teacher of record or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring.

Flex models vary in the degree and type of face-to-face support but many include small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring. In contrast to rotation models where students spend 20-30% of their time online, students in flex models spend more than 50% of their time online. Matriculation at rotation schools is typically by cohort (with some flexibility to meet individual needs) while students in a flex models are typically progressing as they demonstrate mastery in most courses. Rotation schools add some online learning to what otherwise may look like a traditional school while flex schools start with online learning and add physical supports and connections where valuable expanding the potential for innovation is higher in flex schools. ...

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iNACOL Blended Teaching Competencies | Leadership Webinar

iNACOL Blended Teaching Competencies | Leadership Webinar | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |
iNACOL Blended Teaching CompetenciesWednesday, October 8, 2014, 2:00-3:00 PM ET

As blended learning models become more prevalent, the need to identify & foster core educator competencies for strong blended learning instructional practice becomes greater. A working group from a range schools, models and regions developed a framework of competencies necessary for the blended learning teacher, building from the understanding that much of what makes a great traditional classroom teacher translates into a blended environment. This session will share the working group's findings.


Kathryn Kennedy, Senior Researcher, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

Allison Powell, Vice President for New Learning Models, iNACOL

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10 Skills The Workforce of the Future Will Need

10 Skills The Workforce of the Future Will Need | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

I find myself averse to writing predictions of the future as most predictions fail. Take a few minutes to peruse some older covers of magazines on a blog like Paleofuture and you may find yourself chuckling at the image of planes landing on top of skyscrapers and airships shuttling thousands of people lazily from one city to the next one.

Even the posts as late as 1980 are a little cringeworthy now, and many articles written today will seem equally ridiculous to later generations.

A great example is OMNI Magazine's prediction of 47 careers that would be common in the future, like "space geographer" or "microwave marketer." Most predictions of the future simply take the present and add 20 to it or reflect the personal prejudices and naive expectations of the predictor.

Yet, as I scroll through these relics of futures that never came, I started to wonder if it really is such a bad idea to take some time and ponder how work and careers would change in the coming decades. Maybe such predictions seem silly, but back in the '70s, who would have changed a lucrative job manufacturing cars for a career in robotics? They might have, had they seen the articulated robotic arms being sold to General Motors and its competitors. In 1990, when the fledging web was emerging, how many people thought they needed to jump into online security? Today, it is one of the most in-demand jobs.

I soon realized that if I want to remain gainfully employed, it might be worth imagining what being gainfully employed will mean in several decades. With that thought in mind, I sat down at my keyboard and whipped up a list of 10 skills that I think the workforce of the future will need to know.

1. They will need to know how to create new worlds.

Virtual reality has been discussed for so long it has already started feeling retro. But the truth is, we have been building towards it for the last three decades, and it is moving from entertainment to everyday life, including classrooms, likeKhan Academy, where millions of children connect and learn every day. These virtual worlds will expand beyond the realm of entertainment to become extensions of the workplace environment and people will have to know how to move through them, manipulate them and create them. 

2. They will need to think holistically.

Resources will be limited and more will have to be done with less. We have been led to believe that resource constraints create vicious competition, but successful competitors in nature are often collaborators that can see a greater value in a whole, and how they fit into it. Already, companies like Patagonia and Zappos are asking their employees to focus on more than just the bottom line and are reaping benefits from it.

3. They will often be changing themselves mentally and physically to respond to challenges.

Adaptation is a must. Eventually, we as a species will become as malleable as our devices. The future workforce must expand their minds to envision what can be done when technology and nature are no longer separate and whole new categories of diversity become commonplace. It may seem like science fiction, but the boundaries of what humans can do will be pushed in the future and those working in it will need to know how to operate within a whole new set of boundaries.

4. They will turn information into matter and matter into base information on the fly.

Many people will become makers, creating prototypes on demand for all sorts of products. They will also be able to do the same in the opposite direction, taking apart things and breaking them down into information that can be shared amongst team members. Today, anyone can build things that only factories could produce, using their personal computer and a 3D printer that fits on their desk.

5. They have to be able to work without direct leadership in tight temporary organizations that will act independently.

The ability to build fast relationships is a must as well as the ability to manage oneself with little external input.

6. Those seeking long-term secure employment will find it in employee-owned and -operated companies.

Most service industries will have shed much of their workforce to automation, so many low skilled employees will find work in collectivized companies, which will fulfill niches that large multinational corporations will miss or ignore. Right now, the 7th largest firm in the U.S. is the employee owned company, Publix. In such situations, everyone, from the dishwasher to the chief executive, will need a good business sense.

7. Many future skills will relate to mind-machine interfaces.

If humans are to compete with machines in any meaningful way, they will have to become part machine themselves. In this way, humans are not in competition with machines, but working in concert with them. Already, contact lenses that can take pictures exist, so the machines are only getting closer and closer.

8. They will all be data analysts.

We swim in seas of data, and like most oceans, they will be dark waters that will require some navigation to sail through to find the dry land of useful information. Even now, a simple internet search can turn up millions of links, but it takes a trained mind to parse out which ones are relevant.

9. The ability to tell a good story will be valued over spreadsheets, graphs, and data points.

Data is fine, but people will still need to be convinced that a particular course of action is worth time and resources, and this is where the skills and abilities of a telling the data driven proof in a narrative way will become an important technique.

10. Our future workforce must be ready to become "shallow experts" very quickly on many different types of software, platforms, and services.

There will always be specialists, and they will continue to fulfill important niches, but considering the speed of change, no one platform can be expected to dominate a field forever. The biggest foundation skill the new workforce will need is the ability to develop a working knowledge of new systems in very little time, either to fulfill the expectations of their job, or to work with the specialists who will.

There you have it. Does this list describe the future of work? Are there some items I suggested that you see happening now? For sure, the future will be connected, collaborative and digital, and along the way, many ideas will be relegated to status that airships and moon bases occupy in our media today, yet we should never stop predicting. In predicting the future we learn something about our present and ourselves, and learning will always be the most important skill anyone, in any workforce, in any time period, can have in their toolbox. To explore more about this subject, check out many more articles on ImpactX exploring the changes technology will have on our lives, now and into the future.

This piece is part of Cisco's series on the workforce of the future. As the worldwide leader in networking, Cisco is committed to helping people develop the technology and career skills they will need to succeed in tomorrow's workforce. Learn more at

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A blueprint for the future of our education system - SecEd UK

After a year-long inquiry, school leaders have published for consultation a vision of what a self-improving education system should look like in 2020 – a vision that consists of six strands. Leora Cruddas explains.


“You can mandate adequacy; you can’t mandate greatness. It has to be unleashed.” This quote by Joel Klein, former superintendent of schools in New York City, encapsulates the thinking behind a consultation document published by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) this week.

ASCL’s Blueprint for a Self-Improving System sets out a vision for the future of education in England. It starts from the premise that profound and sustained reform of the education system will not come from outside the profession: it depends on those of us within the education profession taking the lead.

The concept of a self-improving system was described in 2010 in a series of thinkpieces by Professor David Hargreaves. He proposed four building blocks of a self-improving system: clusters of schools, a local solutions approach, co-construction, and system leaders. Since Prof Hargreaves’ papers were published, much has been written and said about a self-improving system. 

This government committed to creating the conditions for a self-improving system and mandated the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to oversee its implementation. But the NCTL is an executive body of the Department for Education. It is surely a contradiction to have an executive body of government delivering a self-improving system. 

ASCL’s blueprint is about how we can improve our education system by working together. The blueprint is set of design elements – it is emergent, not definitive.

The commonly understood concept of system leadership has been leaders who build leadership capacity within their own school at the same time as working beyond their school with other schools in their localities. The (former) National College for School Leadership defined system leadership as educational leadership, rather than institutional leadership. Educational leadership includes but is not defined by locality leadership or leadership of groups of schools. We believe the next phase in system leadership is leadership of the education system itself.

There is an important difference between a self-improving system and a school-led system. It is of course possible that a school-led system is not an improving one. It is also possible that a school-led system is self-serving rather than self-improving. A self-improving system is by definition strongly school-led, with the government legitimately responsible for determining the standards and regulatory frameworks for accountability purposes. A self-improving system has secure controls that act as a guard to self-interest. 

Our blueprint is written from the point of view of the future – a future set in 2020. The document sets out to propose a set of actions that the profession can take, that ASCL will take and actions we think the government might take to create the conditions for a self-improving system. 

We believe system change needs to be rooted in a set of principles determined by the values of ethical leadership. Our blueprint therefore begins with a statement of principles that underpin both the vision and actions. 

Quality and equality: A good education for all is a central principle of the blueprint. We reject that any student is defined either by social background or by perceived intelligence.

Intelligent accountability: The highest form of accountability is the individual’s professional accountability for the quality of his or her own work and to the people who the profession serves. In a self-improving system, we believe that teachers and school leaders must be agents of their own accountability. The role of the state is to determine the accountability measures that contribute to a high-quality education for all.

Evidence: There is a need for a strong system for analysing evidence so that it can be integrated with professional expertise to improve the quality of practice and outcomes for students. Both policy and practice should be evidence-informed.

Collaboration and partnership: There is a strong correlation between collaboration and system success. We believe it is necessary to build professional capital and trust among teachers and create the conditions for teachers to work together to improve practice within and across schools. 

Subsidiarity: Decision-making should be devolved to the place closest to students, that is, to schools. This is our preferred definition of “autonomy”. In a system in which subsidiarity is the norm, there must be strong and intelligent accountability. Thus subsidiarity and accountability are twin principles.

Common good: Education is for the common good. A good education creates the social conditions which allow young people, both as individuals and in groups, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. A good education system builds character and resilience in all young people. We accept that sometimes the imperative for the common good must override subsidiarity – government has a role to play in ensuring that the system serves all equally well.

Through the autumn term, we would like to engage with a wide variety of people and organisations in the education system to test the ideas in the document. We look forward to hearing from SecEd readers.

Education in 2020 – the six strands of ASCL's Blueprint for a Self-Improving System

Teacher professionalism: The shift in the locus of responsibility from outside the school system to within it has meant a significant impact on outcomes:

Joint practice development is now the norm – it is evidence-informed and linked to a framework of qualifications.

Chartered assessors from the profession work across schools.

There is a National Evidence Centre for Education.

There is a good spread of Teaching Schools in strategic partnerships with universities supporting advanced teacher training and research.

Most teachers now do Master’s degrees and/or are actively engaged in research.

The College of Teaching is in its early stages – and gaining status and credibility. It is responsible for teacher standards.

Curriculum, assessment and qualifications: English students have the knowledge, skills and qualities that are desirable globally – the least advantaged young people achieve not only formal qualifications but the qualities that are desirable to employers:

There is a broad, nationally defined core curriculum framework in both primary and secondary phases.

The framework is determined by a commission for curriculum review which meets every 10 years.

A “growth mindset” permeates school communities – there is a wholesale rejection of determinism by social class or perceived intelligence.

Ground-breaking research has been undertaken which ensures qualifications, examinations and assessment are fit-for-purpose.

Finance and governance: Schools are now funded sufficiently, equitably and sustainably – a national funding formula incorporating weighted funding for disadvantage has been implemented:

Schools stayed in control of their own destiny – where not financially sustainable, they have joined together in federations or multi-academy trusts.

Governors are systematically recruited for skill as well as representation.

Governing bodies employ paid professional clerks.

Financial accountability is ensured through annual independent audit.

Finance directors or business managers are now securely established as assistant principals with equal pay and status.

There is a mechanism for a school to change from one trust to another or leave a trust.

Intelligent accountability: Intelligent accountability is now a widely understood concept –the highest form of accountability is the individual’s professional accountability for the quality of his or her own work to the people the profession serves:

Government has defined a clear accountability framework with a small number of ambitious goals including a nationally determined progress measure – government has committed to stability and the framework has now been in place for five years.

The inspectorate has the power to inspect both groups of schools and individual schools – it has moved towards a model that holds partnerships to account for the quality of support and challenge provided to each other. 

In partnerships with consistently good outcomes and strong peer-review that demonstrates impact, the inspectorate does not inspect individual schools.

The inspection training programme is now highly regarded – school leaders routinely join inspection teams.

Scrutiny and intervention: Scrutiny of performance of all schools is now strong and coherent, undertaken by school commissioners in sub-regional areas – no school is left to drift where outcomes are not secure:

The Office of the Schools Commissioner determines the sub-regional areas and appoints the school commissioners.

Headteacher boards quickly established themselves as effective and have been reconfigured along sub-regional lines.

Where a school is not delivering an acceptable quality of education, the school commissioner uses powers of intervention where the school does not have capacity to secure improvement.

Local democratic accountability is exercised through statutory education overview and scrutiny committees – the committee, chaired by the lead member for education in a local authority, has the power of call-in of the school commissioner and ultimately the power of referral to the secretary of state.

Strategic planning: Place planning which ensures both the sufficiency and quality of education is now strong and stable:

School places are calculated by local authorities using a range of data and local intelligence.

Where new schools are needed, the case is made to the school commissioner and invitations to tender are published.

There is a single commissioning process for schools which is improving the quality of local education provision.

The local authority retains the statutory responsibility for sufficiency of places and the commissioner is responsible for quality of provision.

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Tips for Producing Better eLearning Audio: Learning Solutions Magazine

Tips for Producing Better eLearning Audio: Learning Solutions Magazine | Online and Blended Learning in K-12+ |

Most eLearning courses, and even adult continuing-education eLearning, involve an audio track, mostly as voiceover for video and also for animated characters. As a result, many eLearning professionals find themselves writing audio scripts as part of their work.

However, there’s a lack of formal training for instructional designers about how to write an audioscript that keeps the audience’s attention and enhances learning. In this article, we will provide 10 tips for writing better eLearning audio scripts.

Writing for voiceover

Writing for voiceover is different from writing text that a learner will read; it’s writing for the ear, not the eye. But when you learn to write for the ear, you become a better writer, even when you’re writing material for reading on a screen.

Tip 1: Second person

In English, this means directing the script at the learner and using the word “you.” You might also sometimes use a directive, where the “you” is implied. This is like a command: “Do this!” Writing in the second person means that you have to know who the target audience is and what they will do differently as a result of the course. Audio scripts are more memorable when you tell participants what they need to do and why. Listen to these two audio segments that demonstrate the difference between second person and third person.


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