Hopefully iNACOL17 is on your calendar. It will be held at the Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida on October 23-25, 2017.
As I think most of you know, we organize a strand of sessions on competency-based education at the iNACOL Symposium. So we wanted to make sure you know that iNACOL has opened their process for submitting workshop and session proposals to present at the iNACOL Symposium. The deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Here are a few ideas of topics/questions that I think could be really helpful in creating a strand that would meet the needs of people based on different levels of experience:
- What is Competency-Based Education? It would be great to have a session that is an open conversation to help people really new to CBE make the paradigm shift, ask questions, and learn about different models. We always need to make sure there is a 101 session.
- Personalized Learning Coaching: In most districts, there is anywhere from one to ten people who take on the role of personalized learning coach to help teachers build the new practices. I think it would be wonderful if there was a session that was created for personalized learning coaches to talk about their work, share practices, and perhaps build some shared knowledge (job descriptions, options for offering personalized learning modules for teachers to learn about personalized learning in a CBE school, etc.).
- Creating a Unified Set of Equity Strategies: We know that there are sub-groups of students who have been historically underserved as well as groups of students who may be marginalized in schools (for example, Muslims or LGBT students). If we want to make sure that all students benefit from personalized approaches, districts need to make sure there is capacity to provide proven strategies designed to address learning needs of students. What if there were a session to accumulate and integrate these strategies? (This idea has developed in the Equity Technical Advisory Group but needs more work to build out.)
- Student Agency: It’s becoming more and more clear that student agency, in addition to intentionality and transparency in CBE schools, is a really powerful and important change. We need to build knowledge on 1) the different ways that schools are structuring themselves, 2) the processes used for classroom management, and 3) how schools are taking advantage of student agency to create more opportunities for cultural responsiveness, lifelong learning skills and other important features of learning.
- The Policy Horizon: It’s really hard to think outside the box of any given policy context. But we can’t get what we need unless we can envision it. Is there a way to take examples of policies from different states to begin to build out a more comprehensive understanding of what we need for policy to support and sustain personalized, CBE?
- Innovations at the Margin: There are some schools and districts pushing on what CBE can do to explore very different approaches. We have Young Women’s Leadership Academy’s design of ten skills driving learning; Building 21’s dual credit system; and using continuums rather than grade level standards to open up opportunities for students in Waukesha and Kettle-Moraine. I think we are ready to start looking across these models to think about what they tell us about what is possible.
- Telling the Information System Vendors What We Need: The vendors of information management/student information systems that monitor learning are failing us badly. (What I hear is that they say there isn’t a market. Well they may want to read Clayton Christensen’s work. Because they are going to lose the market to the first one who can support personalized, competency-based systems.) Let’s talk about what we really need for these systems to do, build agreement, and then figure out how to engage them. This could require two steps – one part might be to look at each other’s systems currently in use to see how they are designed and how they might be better. This would allow us to create a short article on strengths and weakness of each model and publicize it. Second, we could then put together the core functions we need – and maybe we could start doing a survey or petition to show the number of schools that want this functionality.
These are just a couple of ideas. I’m hoping our network has gotten strong enough that people can find each other to help think about sessions that are building on knowledge in multiple schools and districts. I’m also thinking that it might be possible to use iNACOL17 as a place of building knowledge as well as sharing it.
We are going to have a leadership forum as a pre-conference session for anyone with one or more year experience to spend some time working through more challenging issues together. So plan on coming for October 23 if you have 1+ years experience in competency education (And newbies we’ll make sure there are valuable opportunities for you as well).