SMC Summer Institute 2016: Designing Open Education Systems

I am looking forward to the next phase of my career beginning on July 1, 2016 when I start work at Saint Michael’s College as the Coordinator of the School Leadership Program.  I have capacity in my schedule at the College to run some sort of summer institute.  I evaluated three options to determine how my leadership and the resources of the College might be of the greatest service to the education community:

  1. Superintendent Leadership Academy – Previously, the College’s summer institute had been focused on meeting the needs of new superintendents.  This is an ongoing need but duplicates to a certain extent a program run by the Vermont Superintendents Association.
  2. Act 46 Merger Support – There is a large need to provide support to districts seeking to navigate the merger requirements of Act 46.  Act 46 is the most significant education policy initiative we have seen in Vermont a while, but in the end I thought the scope of this initiative was too broad for the focus of a summer institute.
  3. The Future of Education – I have been interested in the impact of technology on education for some time, and from my perspective not enough is being done to understand and describe how technology will affect the structure of our educational organizations.  We have some great programs in Vermont focused on individual educators (e.g. Snelling, Tarrant, and Rowland) but not much is being done to consider how school districts as systems need to change.  Also, I think Act 46 presents a historic opportunity to enact some system changes, and it would be an opportunity missed if all we do under Act 46 is to create a more efficient educational delivery system that enhances the obsolescence of the current model and inhibits our ability to redesign teaching and learning systems so that student learning aspirations at the center of what we do.

So I have decided on option #3.  The title of the institute will be “Designing Open Education Systems.” The idea would be to bring together leadership teams to explore the opportunity under Act 46 to adapt our schooling systems to the technological context. I anticipate several themes: personalizing student learning, creating development ecosystems for educators, visualizing data, and leveraging Open Education Resources. Participants would work on creating systems innovation plans to move their organizations forward in these areas. Community engagement would be a focus of these innovation plans. An outcome of the insitute would be the creation of a network of districts doing parallel work that could be expanded over time. The College and institute would serve as a convener and catalyst for this work.

The institute will be held at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT from August 9th – 11th, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Two follow up sessions will be scheduled for later in the year.  The maximum capacity is 30 and preference will be given to teams.  Pricing and registration information will be out soon.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at dfrench@smcvt.edu.

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