Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dear Rhode Island: That April Fools Day Blended Learning Conference is no joke! – Wrench in the Gears

Dear Rhode Island: That April Fools Day Blended Learning Conference is no joke! – Wrench in the Gears:

Dear Rhode Island: That April Fools Day Blended Learning Conference is no joke!


Competency-based education’s march through New England continues. In the fall it was Massachusetts with its fanfare around MAPLE(Massachusetts Personalized Learning Ed-Tech Consortium), and now on April Fools Day the joke appears to be on Rhode Island. This weekend hundreds of educators gathered in Providence for the sixth annual “Blended and Personalized Learning Conference” hosted by the Highlander Institute, the Christensen Institute, and the Learning Accelerator. Event sponsors included the Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Nellie Mae Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Overdeck Family Foundation.
The intent of this post is to describe the players and follow the money behind the shift to digital education in Rhode Island. If you’re new to the blog and not yet familiar with concerns about this shift please refer to this recent talk (it’s an hour, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback) or posts on learning ecosystems and “Future Ready” schools. Short on time? My 4-minute overview of the end game cuts to the chase.
The Highlander Institute based in Providence, RI began in 1990 as Children of Promise to serve students with diagnosed learning differences. In 2005 a partnership was established with the Highlander Charter School, and in recent years the organization has been become an incubator and cheerleader for ed-tech and blended learning in the state. A query of Gates Foundation grants shows that the Institute has received nearly $2.5 million in support of these efforts since 2015, including a recent grant of $1.7 million. EdTechRI, run by the Institute, is part of a national network Dear Rhode Island: That April Fools Day Blended Learning Conference is no joke! – Wrench in the Gears:

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