ERS recently delved into the topic of Next Generation Learning at our monthly lunch with guest Eleanor Laurens from The Parthenon Group and co-author of Next Generation Learning: Defining the Opportunity and Next Generation Learning - Scaling the Opportunity. Lauren’s presentation on Next Generation Learning (NGL), simply defined as the use of technology to enable personalization in the classroom, inspired lively discussion on this cutting-edge topic and the implications for our district partners.
The recent adoption of Common Core Standards and the ongoing rise of information technology have made NGL one of the leading issues in education today. Misconceptions about NGL models include the over-emphasis on technology (it is actually an enabler, not an end in itself), and the perceived threat to the teaching profession (it actually has the potential to elevate the teaching profession by leveraging time, assessments, and grouping assignments). As Ms. Laurens’ papers point out, NGL models will need to be judged according to two fundamental criteria: whether they facilitate sustained breakthrough learning gains by all students and whether they create efficiencies that make them at least cost neutral to deliver compared to traditional models.
Our discussion explored the vision for what the future might hold, and raised interesting questions about how we get there. We reflected on the potential of NGL models based on our knowledge of our district partners, our experiences as classroom teachers, our concerns as parents, and our own K-12 educational upbringing. We discussed the barriers such as district capacity for change, state policies, and union contracts. There was consensus that NGL expansion will ultimately require system-level policy, practice, and structure change, including adjustments to seat time requirements and resource use flexibility.
The discussion about NGL and innovative school design reinforced the important work ERS is doing to help support systems in organizing talent, time, and money to create great schools at scale. There are only a handful of schools currently implementing NGL models. The concepts are very much in experimentation, however if the pilots can prove results with the same investment, NGL has potential to take off.
ERS staff gathers each month to discuss our work and current issues in education. At ERS we see conversations like these—with each other and with our partners—key to building knowledge and ultimately impacting the educational experience for all children.