Byron's Babbles

Leapfrogging To New Paradigms In Education

I am going guess most of us played the game of ‘leapfrog’ at some point in our childhood. You know, the game where a number of children bend down and another child jumps over them one at a time, moving the line forward. If you are still playing this game – no judgement here. I refuse to grow up, too. This is, however, a great metaphor for where we are right now as a country. You all know how I love a good metaphor and Susan Patrick, President and CEO of Aurora Institute, knocked it out of the park (note the baseball metaphor) during her opening remarks and call to action at Aurora’s 2020 National Policy Forum saying, “We are at a ‘leapfrog’ moment in education.” This is so true!

Besides the definition of ‘leapfrog’ as a child’s game I did not really like the other definitions because phrases like “moving past others quickly” or “missing stages” were used. I did kind of like Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of “to improve your position by moving quickly past or over something that blocks your way.” To Susan’s point, we have an obligation in education right now to do this for ALL students.

I had the opportunity to speak on a global platform to over 40 countries back in the spring and I presented the following list of what I believe to be our Global Education Policy Considerations:

  • Connectivity and Technology Access
  • Remote Learning – I followed the first bullet with this because remote learning is so much bigger than just devices and broadband access. We also need to be thinking about the support students need in coaching, mentoring, tutoring, social emotional learning, nutrition, and basic care/safety needs
  • Personalized/Self Directed Learning/Mastery-Based Learning
  • Equity In Learning
  • Educating Students with Physical and Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Health Counseling / Physical Health Support
  • Flexibility
  • Support for Teachers

A pretty daunting list, I know, but we must get our focus just right on these issues and now is the time to ‘leapfrog’ to that focus. And, maybe, just maybe, the bullet point of ‘flexibility’ is one way to get us there. If we put on our equity lens and take all the points into consideration can we create space, remove obstacles (I like thinking obstacles better than barriers because obstacles can be ‘leapfrogged’ and removed; barriers not so much) so we can address all these issues. The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has also highlighted how in need of attention areas of our education system truly are, with concerns of equity and quality leading the lists.

I would like to submit the following question for us all to consider as we contemplate the future of education for ALL: Can we have new paradigms for education? I certainly believe we can.

We truly are at a ‘leapfrog’ moment in education. I believe the Aurora Institute has the Strategic Pillars in place to be a catalyst for bringing about this ‘leapfrog moment’ and bringing about new paradigms in education. Here they are:

Policy & Advocacy

Removing barriers and creating space for education innovations by advancing enabling policies and providing technical assistance, expertise, briefings, and support to policymakers at all levels.

Field-Building & Knowledge Creation

Building the field across networks, creating new knowledge, analyzing field data and sharing the latest research to produce and communicate insights to move the field forward.

Convening & Connecting

Providing unparalleled networking and learning to professionals designing new learning models, our events connect the field’s leading experts and practitioners with the trends, promising practices, and research to shape the future of education.

I so appreciate Susan Patrick inspiring us to leapfrog forward. As Abraham Lincoln taught us, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Let’s not forget that excellence is our best equity proposition. By leading collectively we can create an educational ecosystem that is best for all students.


Salient Issues From The Field Of Personalized, Competency-Based Education

I had the opportunity to be a part of what I would call a silver lining of the COVID-19 Pandemic situation. Aurora Institute had to pivot to their annual symposium being virtual so took that opportunity to develop a virtual pre-symposium webinar series of over 20 webinars leading up to the Aurora Institute Virtual Symposium being held October 26-28, 2020. Click here to see past webinars and click here to see webinars yet to happen. The webinar series has been incredible and I had the opportunity to present with Lauren Bailey from the Middlebury School Corporation and Sarah Koontz of Horizon Education Alliance. I have had the opportunity to work a great deal with both of these great individuals when providing professional development on project-based learning for the school corporations in Elkhart County, Indiana and then when we (Noble Education Initiative) partnered with them on our free webinars last spring. Click here to read about this.

Yesterday, Lauren, Sarah, and I presented on Integrating Project-Based Learning in Online and Blended Courses in Indiana for the Aurora Institute Pre-Symposium Webinar Series. This was such an awesome experience and I have had so many participants reach out afterward wanting further information and wanting to stay in touch. I also love the fact that the Aurora Institute has made the recordings of these webinars open access. Its great that that these webinars are available for educators, education leaders, and policymakers for high quality learning.

For this post I am going to let our webinar recording and the quote banners that the Aurora Institute did do the talking. Here is our webinar:

Here are some quotes from the webinar: