Panel Exploring Digital Learning Environments
Synopsis: Fellows will learn about virtual, blended learning schools or schools going through school redesigns to see first-hand innovations that are taking place within schools.
Fellows will also hear from administrators and educators who are actively involved with or influenced by technology in education.
Objectives: Fellows understand blended or personalized learning environments and identify differences and similarities to traditional learning environments.
Fellows also consider the experiences of teachers and students who are in blended learning environments.

A+UP and Houston ISD (PowerUp)

A+UP - and
HISD PowerUp -

Other models: (Sweden) (many different models listed)

Other info:


TPACK & SAMR: (scroll down on page to links related to TPACK and SAMR)

Blended Learning Models:

Key points:

We can create blended learning in environments that still focus on test-prep, and it is possible to create personalized learning without technology... Blended learning does not automatically result in more personalized learning, but personalized learning is essential for leveraging the power of technology-infused blended learning.

We should be talking about learning and not about tech or specific tools…

About the learning experience and learning journey vs. what tool/when

Technology does not transform learning

Learning occurs when we interact with the world around us and take in new information through a process of exploration, experimentation, inquiry, etc. “I wonder what this does…”

People transform learning and have been doing so for centuries - we’ve had some great ideas over just the past century about how to strengthen the learning environment and the learning process (in an age where we are requiring all students to master a certain specified body of knowledge) – Montessori, project-based/problem-based/inquiry-based learning – but many of these are not easily taken to the scale that we need within our larger school systems… almost impossible or incredibly challenging to take to larger scale within traditional model of school…

Technology breaks down the barriers of time, space, place, path, pace that have constrained efforts to transform the learning experience/environment

But at the heart of all transformation is imagination, innovation, a drive to create a more powerful and meaningful (which leads to more effective) learning experiences and learning environments
These things – imagination, innovation, drive/desire – come from “us” – from humans, not from machines…

Any teacher that thinks they can be replaced by technology -- or a YouTube video -- probably should be...

Relationships are key… Just like in parenting – we have more success as parents when we connect with our children through our relationship with them (key to discipline and obedience)
We have more successful learners when we develop relationships with them – technology can’t do this for us…

Power of A+UP is NOT that it is mobile or tech-infused… it’s in the relationships between the Learning Coaches and the scholars
A+UP is a great model for how tech can support strong personalized learning that results in greater student achievement


Is not differentiation or individualization…

Individualization – paced to learning needs of different learners, same learning goals, but students progress at different speeds… (competency-based models)
Differentiation – tailored to learning preferences and need of learners, method of instruction can vary, learning goals remain the same
Personalized – incorporates both – adapted to specific needs and interests of individual learners, involves learners in making choices about path, pace, etc, may include common learning goals but not limited to only those learning goals

Hiking trail analogy

Key point – personalization involves student voice and choice – student becomes co-creator of instructional plan alongside of teacher… in best case scenarios, parents/family involved as well

Small steps towards this (within traditional model):
  1. Make assignments more open-ended and less prescriptive
  2. Create environment that welcomes student ideas
  3. Teaching style – inviting and not alienating

Competency-based education important to all of these…

Montessori – multi-age grouping increases social skills and learners work with each other to master learning goals… observations from Lower Elementary classroom where scene resembled workplace vs. classroom -- students answering each other's questions rather than waiting for teacher or TA to answer Qs or help with task... very collaborative, just like in modern workplaces.

Blended Learning

See models (link at top of page)

PowerUp – 1:1 all students, teachers expected to use “Hub” (online learning environment) to create blended learning experiences. District-wide initiative.

Before PowerUp – this happened across district with some individual teachers… Moodle (LMS), teacher-created websites, etc…. Flipped Learning? See traditional art classrooms… 2000-2001 Art Electronic Media – self-paced ppt loaded onto all computers, used station-rotation model (similar to elementary classrooms and regular art classrooms)

Making the transition to blended and personalized -- huge paradigm/philosophical shift for most educators...

Provide opportunities for modeling this through PD and all meeting experiences (flip your faculty meetings!) -- HISD doing this by moving PD to the Hub so that teachers experience the Hub as learners which helps them make the paradigm/philosophical shift to blended learning to help them begin to change their instructional practices (to incorporate the Hub in their own classrooms)...

Leap to "personalized" is harder, but blended is a first-step...
  1. Ask how/where PD and meetings can be "personalized" for teachers?
  2. Acknowledging use of social media as personalized PD?
  3. Providing personalized PD time for all faculty? (Did this at Chavez HS years ago and called it PLP Time -- Personal Learning Plan Time)

Transition in a nutshell -- create the experience/environment first for educators in their own learning and in their own work so they can see it/feel it/experience it... Then they will have deeper understanding of what it needs to look like/feel like/be like in the classroom for the students.

LAGNIAPPE: 20 Timeless Ways to Make Your Classroom Extraordinary -