From 2010 to 2014, a large school district in Georgia, ALP, and Dell Computers partnered to bring enhanced technology and blended/personalized learning environments to all students, faculty, and district leaders. This ambitious, publicly funded, and fully sustainable initiative contains several critical elements for success that call for a systemic approach to district transformation.
District Needs and Goals
These elements include an early focus on pre-K, all-day kindergarten, and families (early childhood family education); strengthened early-grade STEM via class size reduction; increased inclusion and services for English language learners; and investment in technology to increase student achievement through personalized learning. Outcomes include creating a continuum that provides a STEM pathway that increases student readiness for college and success in a 21st century democracy, economy and culture.
Within the first six months of the partnership, ALP and Dell consultants, district leadership and community stakeholders participated in a close, facilitation-based role to co-define their key components of personalized learning. Over the course of the next four years, this partnership continued to support this work by modeling practices, values, and beliefs, the research literature, and best practices of successful learning institutions in tandem with our partner.
Key Components of Personalized and Blended Learning Model
The following are key components of the communal definition for personalized and blended learning within and beyond Hall County Public Schools.
- Passionate, Inspired, Personalized and Blended Learning: learning should be self-directed and self-selected based on the learner’s needs, preferences and passions.
- Flexible Learning: students and educators should have unfettered access to learning drawing on the concept of education equity such that each child’s unique reality is met with key resources.
- Interpersonal Connections and Learning: Using technology as a catalyst this model should open students’ access to learn from whomever, the role of the teacher not only changes but other voices can more readily contribute to a student’s education (e.g., community members, parents, field experts, business leaders, etc.).
- Formative and Collaborative Student Assessment: Given the importance vested in performance standards and associated assessments, the district leveraged its personalized learning platform with best practices in instruction as well as curriculum and assessment development. This timely synthesis will reinforce the importance of student choice and self-efficacy among adult and juvenile learners alike.
- Technology as a Catalyst: To transcend time and space as barriers to traditional learning, mobile devices, digital content and the district’s learning platform provided a powerful medium for learning.
It is noteworthy that this definition was derived from a wide array of community stakeholder, parent, student, teacher and district leadership teams. Beyond the scope of this definition, our collective impact has produced successful implementation of a detailed project plan that was driven by three central goals and specific quarterly milestones.