Education Innovation Summit – A Refreshing Look at Education

For the third consecutive year, the Education Innovation Summit at Arizona State University’s SkySong has become the place to be in April for those interested in the most innovative education solutions.  This year’s Summit is no different from earlier ones in its impact.

The sold-out Summit brings together a diverse set of attendees from traditional educational institutions; innovative, for-profit companies and investors.  The buzz around investment in education is especially evident this year.  But the blending of traditional education with innovative solutions from the for-profit sector, long eschewed by many, is perhaps the most exciting element in this year’s Summit.  Anthony Kim, CEO and Founder of Education Elements, told the story of his company’s role in supporting blended learning to a packed room.

But it was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation session on innovation implementation that attracted even more attention.  This was the story of Adaptive Curriculum  and its role in making blended learning a reality.  While the founder and visionary, Ahmet Eti, was in the room, the story was told – not by Mr. Eti nor Jim Bowler, CEO – but by the representatives of the Madison School District from Phoenix Arizona.

Tim Ham, the Superintendent of Madison, along with Jay Mann, the Director of Technology, and Kim Thomas explained how the District had managed the change process and why it had chosen the math and science activity objects of Adaptive Curriculum to support its blended learning approach at the middle school level.  This was a story of managed cultural change for teachers and students in the face of budget cuts and the challenges of a high proportion of low-income students.   It was also a story of a company – Adaptive Curriculum – that offers a cloud-based solution to the online learning, supported by diverse forms of professional development for teachers.

Praise for Adaptive Curriculum created a reaction from the crowd when the Madison representatives explained that their only regret was that Adaptive Curriculum only offered math and science curricula.  They went on to comment that it is very hard to find software in other subject areas as “rich and functional” as the software from Adaptive Curriculum.  Already, said Mr. Ham, the Superintendent, two preliminary studies are demonstrating the positive impact of Adaptive Curriculum on students’ learning and test performance.

What a great education conference!

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