Building Community
Building Community

When educators design and create new schools, and live next gen learning themselves, they take the lead in growing next gen learning across the nation. Other educators don’t simply follow and adopt; next gen learning depends on personal and community agency—the will to own the change, fueled by the desire to learn from and with others. Networks and policy play important roles in enabling grassroots approaches to change.

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A June 21, 2018 article in The 74 by Kate Stringer shares findings from a research study that included the NGLC Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools alongside the Gates Foundation's Next Gen Systems Initiative. "New Research: Despite Great Enthusiasm for Personalized Learning, Teachers Say Attempts to Innovate Are Often Stymied by School District Bureaucracy" emphasizes that the system change envisioned by the NGLC Regional Funds and the Gates Foundation's Next Gen Systems Initiative "largely did not occur in the early years of these initiatives."

Students and teachers both reported preferring the individualized style of instruction that is a hallmark of personalized learning, but they felt stymied by a lack of support and ambiguity in expectations from their superiors. The tension between taking innovative risks and delivering on yearly state and federal accountability benchmarks, as well as a lack of curricular or financial resources, often stifled schools’ work, principals told researchers. “The initiative’s challenges through the first few years of effort underscore the difficulty of innovating inside a system that was never designed for innovation,” the researchers wrote.

It's perhaps understandable that systems-change would be a challenge to achieve in the first two years.

“The thing to understand about all of this is that we have to learn not to think of it as another flavor or version of reform,” said Andrew Calkins, director of Next Generation Learning Challenges, one of the initiatives launched by the Gates Foundation to award these personalized learning grants. “This is a fundamental rethinking and reimagining of everything about what schools focus on.”

The article includes recommendations from the CRPE researchers to support scaling personalized learning in a district.


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Next Generation Learning Challenges

A dedicated team moving the mission of NGLC forward, helping to bring next gen learning to today’s students.