2014 Symposium Highlights

View highlights or revisit discussions from iNACOL’s 2014 Blended and Online Symposium held in Palm Springs, California. Revisit keynote presentations and discover recorded sessions you may have missed. We had record-breaking attendance again this year with over 2600 registrants!

Featured Sessions

Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready in the United States Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

These are exciting times for “Personalized Learning” — what started as a small fringe movement is gaining momentum every day. But what does that term really mean? What specific strategies and designs are schools implementing, and why? What role does technology play? How does this alter the role of teachers, and how do they feel about these changes? Do we have evidence that any of this actually works for students?

Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke about her organization’s interest in this burgeoning field. She offered her perspective on what Personalized Learning is (and isn’t), and how that drives her organization’s investments in schools and systems across the U.S. Phillips presented, for the first time, interim results from a multi-year research study of schools that that are implementing a variety of personalized learning approaches.

Following her speech, Vicki led a panel discussion featuring teachers who are currently teaching in personalized learning environments.

Sal Khan, Founder of The Khan Academy

Regarded the world over as an edtech pioneer, Sal Khan has harnessed the power of Internet connectivity and access to provide video lessons to individuals, as well as content and embedded formative assessments to schools through the Khan Academy (link to: khanacademy.org).

With over 6,000 instructional videos, 100,000 practice problems, and 10,000,000 unique visitors per month Khan Academy is rethinking the world of education. Sal shared insights from his journey to deliver personalized learning to millions around the globe through online learning and to reimagine “school” for a new generation of educators and learners. His message highlighted the importance of a shift to opening access to a world-class education built on mastery and competency-based learning. He shared his vision for how online learning can transform education systems toward realizing this ultimate goal of a high-quality education for every student, every day and power personalized learning.

Gene Wilhoit, CEO of the National Center for Innovation in Education

The vast majority of educators are well-intended, student-centered and working harder than ever to meet bolder, new expectations for our next generation. So why are they, and we, so dismayed? Could it be that most of us are working very hard on the wrong problems — and trying to solve them in historic ways?

Gene Wilhoit believes so. He is a strong national voice for next generation learning systems to transform education. He is building consensus around a new, more coherent vision of personalized education for every learner designed to support each to graduation in a culture of high expectations tailored to individual needs, skills and interests. This new learning is grounded in clear, high expectations, mastery learning and customized pathways for all. In order to realize this vision, he is helping states develop and act on robust theories of change.

During the presentation, Gene challenged the community of innovators at iNACOL to consider how we can promote the need for a transformative shift from systems of schooling to systems for learning to advance the goal of college, career, and citizenship readiness for every child. He laid out 6 critical attributes as design principles and discussed how they relate to one other. He speculated on the implications for practice and policy. He challenged viewers to find ways to elevate and empower the voices of teachers and local leaders to tap the collective potential of and amplify the voices of practitioners and students.

Michael Horn, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Education Program at the Clayton Christensen Institute

In this keynote, Michael Horn, Co-founder and Executive Director of Education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, highlighted his new book’s findings on blended learning and disruptive innovation. He discussed how school leaders and teachers can design learning environments to harness innovation toward personalization, access and equity at scale to unleash student engagement and dramatically improve student achievement.

Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, which Horn coauthored with Heather Staker, is a practical field guide for implementing blended learning techniques in K-12 classrooms. The book provides practical implementation guidance for educators seeking to incorporate online learning with traditional classroom time. Michael discussed a step-by-step framework upon which to build a more student-centered system, along with essential advice that provides the expertise necessary to build the next generation of K-12 learning environments. Leaders, teachers, and other stakeholders can gain valuable insight into the process of using online learning to the greatest benefit of students, while avoiding missteps and potential pitfalls.

Images from the Event