Better TogetherHow to Leverage School Networks For Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning
Bring students, teachers, and administrators together to facilitate higher school achievement Better Together presents a tour through one of the modern era’s most important educational innovations, and provides smart strategy for working optimally within the school network sphere. There are more than 50 high-quality scaled charter networks in the U.S.; most share a learning model, professional supports, and—increasingly—platform tools. Although these charter schools get most of the attention, there are over a dozen other networks that connect district schools and provide design principles, curriculum materials, technology tools, and professional learning opportunities to streamline school improvement and help build great new schools from scratch. This book details some of the many success stories, and includes expert analysis of learning models, strategies, and innovations that are making quality scalable and helping schools produce more positive student outcomes. Illustrative examples from the New Tech Network, Summit Public Schools, Big Picture, and other big-name networks provide both guidance and inspiration, while expert discussion clarifies essential details and processes for implementation. Teachers and administrators will find much food for thought both inside and outside of a school network system. Examine proven learning models for scaled school networks Explore the latest innovations for more effective collaborations Read success stories from school networks across the country Learn smart strategies for optimizing the educational network experience Digital platforms have transformed the way we connect with friends, family, colleagues, and businesses. That revolution has finally come to education, opening doors to collaboration, resource expansion, and school success. Better Together explores beyond disruption to show how the U.S. K-12 system is truly evolving.
About the Authors xiii Acknowledgments xv Preface xvii Introduction: The Promise of School Networks 1 Part One: Platform Revolution 11 1 Platforms: A Place You Call Home 13 2 Network Effects: When Bigger Is Better 19 3 Learning Platforms: When Will They Transform Education? 37 Part Two: Transforming Schools 51 4 Powerful Learning: Personalized and Project Based 53 5 Design Thinking: The New Frame for School 81 6 Connected Teaching: Technology Enables Co-Creation 95 7 Learning Organizations: Building Collective Capacity 109 8 Dynamic Networks: Picking the Right Structure for Scaled Impact 129 Part Three: Navigating the Future ... Starting Now 147 9 Leadership: From Compliance to Agreement Crafting 149 10 Impact Engines: Picking the Right Business Model 167 11 Governance: Use Networks to Boost Quality Options 179 12 Powerful Learning at Scale: Inspiration and Intermediation 189 13 Advocacy: A Nation Proud of Its Public Schools 197 Appendix: Networks, Schools, and Tools Mentioned 209 Index 219
TOM VANDER ARK is an advocate for innovations in learning. As CEO of Getting Smart, he advises schools and impact organizations on the path forward. He previously served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as a public school superintendent in Washington State. Tom is the author of the Jossey-Bass book Getting Smart. LYDIA DOBYNS is an advocate for transforming public education. She is President and CEO of New Tech Network (NTN), a leading design partner for comprehensive school change. NTN supports a nationwide K-12 school network comprised of 200 schools in 28 states. She has combined careers as a technology entrepreneur and executive, with elected public service and non-profit organization leadership roles.
Better Together is a guide to the most important innovation in today's education - school networks. Innovative schools that belong to networks are organized around a shared approach to teaching and learning, common tools, and collaborative learning opportunities for principals and classroom teachers. The authors—two noted education experts—detail the best practices and strategies for working effectively within the school network arena and highlight the fact that dynamic networks get better and more valuable as they grow. Capturing the media's attention are hundreds of high-quality U.S. public charter schools, many that are part of school networks. However, there are also hundreds of high quality, innovative public district schools that are part of over a dozen networks that connect district schools and provide design principles, curriculum materials, technology tools, and professional learning opportunities that strengthen school improvement and help build new schools from the ground up. Better Together contains compelling stories from many of the 200 New Tech Network schools and dozens of other innovative networks and contains an analysis of the current approaches that are designed to help networks produce positive outcomes for students. Better Together offers administrators and teachers a hands-on resource for examining the proven learning models used in scaled school networks as well as information on the most recent innovations for creating more effective collaboration. The authors include savvy strategies that can be employed to get the most out of school networks. Digital platforms have transformed the way we connect with friends, family, colleagues, and businesses. We are on the verge of seeing that the digital revolution is helping to transform schools by providing effective paths to collaboration, resource expansion, and school success.
TRANSFORM LEARNING BY BRINGING STAKEHOLDERS TOGETHER TO SHARE POWERFUL TOOLS AND SUPPORT ECOSYSTEMS "Why are we seeing a steady increase in schools working in networks? Why are they likely to become more important in the future? The primary reason, as cited, is that they work pretty well especially in difficult circumstances. Better than average performance is likely a function of a coherent design where everything works together for students and teachers. In many cases, commitment to common practices, tools, and training also produces more consistently good teaching." —From the Introduction Working together on platforms in networks has changed the world of commerce, and it's beginning to transform teaching and learning. Better Together explores two powerful ideas that can catalyze innovation in public education: powerful project-based and personalized learning and taking it to scale by joining school networks. Filled with illustrative examples drawn from the New Tech Network schools and other effective school networks, this important book clearly offers evidence that school networks can transform education and address education inequity. Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns provide a guide to the school network revolution. They describe a vision of powerful learning for all students and show why design thinking is emerging as a powerful new framework for innovating education. The text clearly illustrates the empowered environment of co-creation that teachers should expect from being part of a network. Better Together is both an inspirational and practical resource that contains specific strategies that can be implemented to build an effective school network. The book includes information on leadership, business models, governance, school supports, and advocacy that will go a long way for creating an environment where a school network can thrive.
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