Last year saw a flurry of activity in support of personalized learning, new school designs, and new approaches to K-12 education policy. Looking ahead, education innovators have their work cut out for them in 2018. Some of this work requires asking hard questions. Some requires acknowledging that there’s an elephant in the room. And some requires looking beyond our current conversation to where the next waves of innovation stand to emerge. Here are five ways I’m hoping the K-12 education innovation agenda moves forward in 2018:
(1) Unpack “just-in-time supports.”
One of the core elements of a high-quality competency-based model is students receiving just-in-time supports. These same supports seem to be implied when advocates of personalized learning call for tailored learning experiences and pathways that resemble those of high-touch tutoring models. Yet we often lack a clear, systematic way to talk about what those supports are and aren’t. What does learning science tell us about the best approaches? In which instances should these supports result from students seeking out help themselves? And when should educators scaffold them in? Put broadly, how can we infuse the notion of “just-in-time supports” with an understanding of what works, for which students, in which circumstances? I worry that without getting deep into these instructional innovations and beginning to categorize them in clear ways, structural innovations to rethink time and unlock personalized, competency-based progressions will risk falling flat. This year I’ll be keeping an eye on efforts like TLA’s Practices portfolio and Digital Promise’s Learner Positioning Systems for clearer answers.