If there is a Holy Grail for those of us who use the slang “innovation”, it is probably truly differentiated learning that engages each student in their own passions; allows them to take increasing ownership of the learning process; and adapts to each learner. Basically we are searching for a way to bring back Dewey and irrevocably bust the assembly line, all in a time when standards-based instruction has never been a tougher nut to crack. Yep, Holy Grail.
And yet it is happening, and going to happen with increasing speed and facility in the next few years. Schools, vendors, and individuals are working the problem and making real progress. Like all systems, simplicity is, well, simple; the hard part is going to scale. I remember realizing in high school that communism works really well in small tribal aboriginal societies…not so much when taken to scale.
I am thrilled to be a fly on the wall, or maybe a bit more, as the 35,000 student Poway Unified district in California takes a run at creating an adaptive learning platform with partner vendors. Over the next year we are going to stress test this model…
…and start building it. This is a serious effort with the support of strong leadership, a new school to pilot it, and a bunch of vendors willing to share ideas on how to get it done. Others are working the same problem: let’s cooperate. I am already putting PUSD in touch with Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, where they teach a differentiated system that is a wonder to behold…and now ready to go to scale. I will be posting blogs all through the next year on this process, so keep in touch and let me know of other similar efforts. Maybe the Grail is closer than we think!