Professional Development

Future Ready Schools Takes Free Personalized Learning PD to 5 Cities

A set of free, two-day professional development events taking place this fall will enable school leaders to learn the basics of delivering personalized education to their students, which includes the use of technology. The training is being run by Future Ready Schools (FRS), an initiative of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Future Ready Schools Institutes takes place in September, October and November in five cities — Portland, OR; Mansfield, OH; Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA; and Ashburn, VA.

Districts and schools that participate in the institutes can bring up to five individuals. Among the participants suggested are superintendents or other district leaders, principals, teacher leaders, and instructional coaches, IT directors and librarians/media specialists. This isn't a new initiative. FRS has already run 30-plus institutes with more than 650 district teams.

The institutes train attendees using the FRS framework, which helps them understand how to approach change in their districts methodically and covers the seven aspects of a robust digital conversion: curriculum, instruction and assessment; use of space and time; infrastructure; data and privacy; community partnerships; personalized professional learning; and budget and resources. Participants will also learn how to use the FRS interactive planning dashboard, a free online tool that can help leadership teams develop plans for the effective use of technology in improving learning outcomes.

All of this is preparation work that's done, emphasized the organizers, before the device buying begins. "In the rush to purchase the latest device, some districts skip over the vision and planning steps — sometimes resulting in devices being left on the shelves or awkward fits into instruction," said Bob Wise, president of the alliance, in a prepared statement. "FRS institutes will help school district leaders plan and strategize while also connecting them with a support network of individuals who have overcome — or are facing — the same challenges they are."

The institutes will launch networks in their regions for on-going support, consisting of "enthusiastic implementation experts" who will serve as mentors and coaches to support and host follow-up activities.

The program is being supported by a bunch of education and technology companies, including McGraw-Hill Education, AT&T Aspire, Follett, Amazon Web Services, bulb Digital Portfolios, Pearson and Discovery Education.

Applications are available on the individual FRS Institutes websites. Links to those are available through the FRS website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.