Tom Watkins was the mental health commissioner in Michigan before becoming school superintendent—he said it was useful preparation for taking over the confusing public delivery ‘system.’ Watkins made Michigan a leader in transparent performance data. Tom continues to push for innovative learning in Michigan and now in China.
Watkins argued that personal digital learning made obsolete the existing confinements of 180 days, 6 hour days, 4 walls of a classroom, and the 2 covers of a textbook. Tom concluded with 10 recommended action steps:
1. Seek incremental as well as revolutionary change.
2. Change state laws that favor building school buildings. Prior to any school being built or a major renovation, a technology impact statement must be developed to demonstrate how technology can reduce/eliminate brick and mortar and advance learning.
3. Develop a strategic plan that asks how schools infrastructure resources and per pupil funding may better be invested in technology and expanding broadband access.
4. Consider eliminating Senior Year “in school.”
5. Beginning in the earliest years make digital, personal e-learning available.
6. Stop restriction on quality personalized learning that protects adults at the expense of kids.
7. Remove academic anchors-allow students to excel at their own pace.
8. Stop arbitrary caps on enrollments and resources.
9. We need to model and lead this change based on data and research.
10. Organize local, state, national, and international personalized learning “Tear Down These Walls” conferences.
I think that’s a pretty good list.