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Quarterly Update
Summer 2013

Dear TLA friends,

 

The last few months have been very exciting!  Our team is making excellent progress in all of our major focus areas and we are establishing a prominent national presence.   We are now connected with many school districts and other organizations across the blended learning ecosystem and are seeing increasing alignment among all players. 

 

As many of you are aware, President Obama recently called on the FCC to help build high-speed digital connections to America's schools to ensure that students benefit from new advances in teaching and learning.  TLA's first major grant was to EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit working to improve schools' broadband capacity, and we are thrilled to see increased visibility and support for this important work.

 

We are now starting to talk with school districts about partnering with us to launch pilots of district-wide implementation of blended learning.  Our goal is to create a few showcases that will demonstrate successful implementation at scale. These initial discussions will continue through the summer and we hope to select partners by early fall, with a goal of starting implementation in schools in September 2014.

 

We are looking forward to the months ahead and expect to be able to report more great progress as our team deepens its work.

 

With appreciation,

 

Scott Ellis               Joe Wolf

CEO                       President                           

 

 

Current Focus

White Solutions

 

The Learning Accelerator is currently focusing on a few specific strategic objectives:

 

Create Scalable Solutions

  • Broadband: ensure that every school has sufficient broadband to implement blended learning
  • Pooled Purchasing: enable districts to save money in procurement by aggregating their volumes
  • Professional Development and Training: provide support to educators so they can thrive in blended classrooms
  • Cultivation of Professional Services: ensure that districts can get the consulting support they need
  • District Financing: help districts understand what blended learning costs and how to pay for it

 

Launch District Implementation Pilots

 

Provide State-Level Implementation Strategy and Support

 

 

Recent Activities

Below is a summary of recent activities in each of our strategic areas:
 
Create Scalable Solutions

Broadband  EHS logo

The Learning Accelerator made its initial grant of $500,000 to EducationSuperHighway (ESH), a non-profit whose mission is to ensure that every school in the country gets sufficient broadband to enable blended learning.  In addition to the funding, TLA is providing ongoing support for ESH by conductinfocused analyses, partnering on strategy, and helping with additional fundraising and networking. TLA CEO Scott Ellis is leading this work.

 
Pooled Purchasing

TLA has conducted significant research into the existing purchasing structures available to districts across the country - e.g., state procurement contracts, national purchasing organizations, local and regional consortia - as well as examples from other industries.  Based on this initial work, TLA has launched an initiative to increase pricing transparency for districts by collecting and sharing prices paid for IT hardware.  TLA Partner Daniel Owens is leading this work.

 

Professional Development and Training  Bellweather

TLA is conducting a consulting project with Bellwether Education Partners to assess the current "state of the field" in teacher professional development and training for blended learning.  We are interviewing thought leaders, vendors, and practitioners to understand what they are currently doing to support teachers and principals in this work and what they think will be required for the future.  TLA Partner Beth Rabbitt is leading this work.

 

Cultivation of Professional Services

TLA is assessing the long-term path to create scalable solutions in this space.  We have reviewed comparable models like the LEED environmental certification process as well as the structure of large-scale IT consulting firms. We are talking with multiple organizations about how to ensure quality and scale in consulting for districts while also cultivating business models that will be sustainable over time. TLA CEO Scott Ellis is leading this work.

  

District Financing

TLA is conducting a consulting project with Education Resource Strategies, an industry leader in financial analysis and resource allocation for school districts.  The goal of this project is to help districts answer several critical questions: What should district financial targets be when implementing blended learning (e.g., sustainable on public funding after four years)?  How much does it cost to implement blended learning?  How can districts pay for it, either by accessing incremental revenue sources or reallocating existing funds?  TLA Partner Alex Terman is leading this work.

 

Launch District Implementation Pilots

 

The Learning Accelerator is in the process of identifying 2-5 districts to serve as innovation partners with us.  Our goal is to create examples of complete implementation of blended learning across entire districts and demonstrate the steps to achieve it.  Another objective of the partnership with districts is to provide opportunities for service providers to systematically implement, test, and improve their offerings - a critical innovation step towards developing scalable solutions.  We are in discussions with several districts and plan to launch the pilots by the end of August.  

 

Provide State-Level Implementation Strategy and Support
 

The Learning Accelerator has started to define the roles that states and state agencies can play in accelerating the implementation of blended learning at scale.  We are assessing the readiness of states and creating profiles of several of them as a first step in this work, with the goal of creating a small number of "implementation proof point states" to supplement our work with districts.  TLA will also evaluate the role of district policies in this work and assess whether there are opportunities to support school boards and education agencies in a coordinated way through activities at the state level.  TLA Partner Lisa Duty is leading this work.

What's Next?

 

Over the next three months, The Learning Accelerator will partner with innovative school districts across the country to help them launch pilot programs in blended learning that eventually can be replicated nationwide.  

 

If you use social media, please follow our progress on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Visit our website at www.learningaccelerator.org to see our growing collection of resources for school districts that are ready to adopt blended learning.

 

We look forward to demonstrating what successful implementation of high-quality blended learning looks like and how to accomplish it.

 

Again, thank you for your support!

 


Contact:
Scott Ellis, CEO
iinfo@learningaccelerator.org
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