Mobile Among the Museums: A Blended & Personalized Learning Environment Leveraging Community Resources for Improved Learner Outcomes

Presenter - Stephanie Sandifer


Guiding Question
How can we combine mobile technologies with community and cultural resources to remove the walls that separate school from community to transform the learning experience into a more personalized and engaging learning experiences with improved academic and social growth for our students?

Full Session Description
A+ Unlimited Potential (A+UP), a new tuition-free, open-enrollment private middle school, is a technology-rich mobile, blended, connected, competency-based, personalized learning environment where the "campus" is the entire Houston Museum District. A+UP, which is currently in the process for applying to be a public charter school, launched in August 2013 with a small cohort of students who are already demonstrating significant gains and powerful ownership of their own learning. On a typical day the learners carry their cloud-based classroom from museum to community center to coffee shop to the park to the dinner table, engaging in learning anywhere and everywhere at anytime. Through this blended learning experience students master the state curriculum while also mastering the skills necessary for the workplace of today and tomorrow: tracking and prioritizing their own workloads, seeking and finding resources, and looking to peers and their teachers for help in an online community of learning. This learning model challenges our most basic assumptions about what middle school -- or any level of school -- should look like and how it should operate -- from the setting, to the curriculum, to who is driving the work, to how time and space are used, and more.

This session will explore how the school was designed to leverage community resources along with emerging technologies to create an engaging and personalized learning experience that transcends time and place to support learners at their own pace and through their own pathways, and will include suggestions for how elements of this unique learning model can be developed in other communities.

Topics will include the learning theories that provided the foundation for the learning model, the choices made with regard to selection of technology resources, the opportunities and challenges faced in building the partnerships with the local museums and other organizations that made this school possible, and the encouraging early outcomes in terms of student growth and ownership of the learning.

Attendees will be asked to consider how learning can look different when we use emerging technology to remove the walls that separate school from community and will be challenged to explore how they might leverage similar community resources to create more personalized, engaging, and mobile learning experiences for their students.

Websites / URLs
School website: __
Session materials: __

Video of Dr. Sugata Mitra's presentation when he visited Houston last week:

The A+UP students were in the audience.