Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Learning Accelerator (TLA)

An exciting new program:
The Learning Accelerator (TLA) is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing blended learning to all kids in America.  Who is TLA? Watch this brief introductory video about us. What is blended learning? Blended learning is the combination of face-to-face, teacher-led instruction with online, digital instruction that allows for personalized student learning and competency-based progression. (Awesome 5 minute video here, or just as awesome 2 minute video here, shows blended learning in action.) 
We have been busy identifying the biggest barriers schools face when they want to adopt blended learning, and we are finding and funding solutions to overcoming those barriers.  Case in point: fewer than half of American schools have sufficient Internet connection to run online educational tools.  So we provided early funding to a group called EducationSuperHighway who had developed some excellent tools for schools to upgrade their networks and, just as importantly, had a plan to fund school upgrades through a reform of the federal E-Rate program.  Along with EducationSuperHighway, we are also supporting efforts to assess how to maximize the effectiveness of the administration's Future Ready Schools initiative (which was in the NYT yesterday) in support of the ConnectEd Initiative goals. 
Another exciting project that we announced this week is a collaboration among 11 states to create free, comprehensive, digital, Open Education Resources (OER) for schools. Every year, school districts across the country spend over $8 billion on instructional materials and textbooks that can fall into disrepair and don't provide an opportunity for timely updates. By harnessing new improvements in technology and online content, we will offer students dynamic digital content that is organized, searchable, tagged and aligned with learning standards. The effort will be funded by a public-private partnership to preserve local control of flexible, high-quality educational materials.
We issued the RFP for this work on Wednesday and you can find the press release here.  I've also attached a two-page fact sheet about the project and any content developers or publishers who are interested in responding to the RFP can get more information on the K-12 OER Collaborative website.  We'd really appreciate any help in getting the word out about this exciting opportunity.
If you would like to learn more or have any questions, please contact me. Thanks very much!
Kira Keane
The Learning Accelerator

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