Bush Foundation Kicks Off School Design for Individualized Learning Initiative

April 13, 2017 • Krista Kaput

“What does the future of learning look like? And how will we create it?”

Those two questions were posed yesterday at the orientation session for School Design for Individualized Learning, a joint initiative of the Bush Foundation and 2Revolutions that aims to “inspire, equip, and connect educators who want to reimagine the purpose and structure of school.”

Over 120 educators, administrators, and education advocates gathered in St. Paul to learn about the principles of individualized learning and to participate in a group design activity. The Bush Foundation and 2Revolutions also hosted orientation sessions in Rochester and Moorhead this week.

Educators reimagine what school could be.

Bush Foundation’s Education Initiative

Kayla Yang-Best, the Education Portfolio Director for the Bush Foundation (in full disclosure, a funder of Education Evolving) kicked off the orientation by providing context for the Foundation’s individualized learning initiative, which they unveiled earlier this year.

Yang-Best explained that the guiding goal of the Initiative is to make the region the national leader in individualized education. The Bush Foundation’s definition of individualized learning includes the following:

  • Deep, Individualized Learning: Students learn in ways that match how they learn, who they are, and where they aspire to go in life.
  • Focused on Building Student Agency: Learning models promote and build student agency (aka, initiative and motivation) for lifelong learning and problem-solving.
  • Authentic Experiences & Assessment: Learning experiences and assessments are interesting, engaging, and connected to the real world.
  • Tech “Enabled” Learning is supported by technology, but “tech” by itself is not the solution.
  • Serving All (Equity): A commitment to serve all learners, especially students from traditionally underserved populations.

To advance this vision of individualized learning, the Bush Foundation invests in efforts that are dedicated to making education more relevant for all students in terms of:

  • How Students Learn: Learning environments should adopt new instructional techniques and technologies that help students learn at their own pace and according to their unique learning style.
  • Who Students Are: Learning environments should be designed to welcome and support students from all cultures and backgrounds.
  • What Students Aspire To Do: Learning environments should assist students with imagining a career and then provide the appropriate supports to get them there.

2Revolutions Design Exercise: Imagine Education in 2027

After Yang-Best’s introduction, 2Revolutions provided their Framework for the Future of Learning, which places students at the center as the basis from which all other decisions are made. Using the Framework, orientation attendees were asked to write down what they wanted school to be like for students in 2027.

Then, in groups, attendees shared their responses and identified three common trends. A few of the responses included competency-based assessment and progress, community partnerships, internships, flexible standards, and a deconstruction of educational norms regarding time and space. Finally, the groups were asked to draw or write an “ecosystem” for their future school system.

Next Steps: More Extensive Design Experience for Interested Teams

Educators who wish to continue with the design experience they sampled last night will have the opportunity to participate in three more extensive design workshops over the next several months, as described on the Bush Foundation website. Participants will hone their vision and develop a plan for an individualized learning experience that can be expanded schoolwide. Some of the plans participants create may be funded for implementation by Bush.

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