An OESIS of Learning

Update 2/11: Comment from SLS IT Director, Elizabeth Preston

I could not agree more w/Mark’s original post below.  Online Learning has been a focus of research, investigation, and experimentation at St. Luke’ s School for a couple years. There are clear ties between online learning and St. Luke’s mission. In order to address  goals such as fostering lifelong learning, social responsibility, global connections, and a rewarding college experience – it’s clear we have to provide our students with online experiences. The OESIS conference brought together independent schools from across the country. We were able to hear about various programs in all stages of development. This helped me envision possibilities for St. Luke’s. It looks like an East Coast OESIS gathering is planned for the fall.  I will be there!

Original Post from Mark Davis 2/4:

If I had doubt (I didn’t) about the massive significance of online learning, it would have been erased at OESIS 2013 (pronounced: oasis). This inaugural Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools, held last week in Marina del Rey, California, attracted 117 Independent Schools from 29 states and sold out every available ticket. Joining me were Science Chair Michael Mitchell, Librarian Elizabeth Nelson, Director of IT Elizabeth Preston, Upper School Academic Technology Coordinator Lee Bruner, and Trustee Tracy Duncan.  Michael and Tracy serve as co-chairs of the School’s Learning and Technology Task Force.

Billed as “an unprecedented opportunity to engage in a dialogue of critical importance to independent schools,” OESIS explored the vast potential of online and blended learning as well as the financial, cultural, structural, and pedagogical challenges.

Over forty people spoke but my favorite was keynote speaker Michael Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.  Horn emphasized that effective disruption will not attack the current education system but “go around and underneath” to create a more “modular, customizable” system. Online learning, said Horn, represents high potential for leaving behind “monolithic, batch-mode” thinking and creating new, more customizable ways to learn.

For me, OESIS affirmed St. Luke’s decision to enter the online and blended learning arena and our determination to grow this crucial area. Best of all, our emphasis on a blended approach underscores the vital role of teachers while deepening and strengthening students’ learning and their relationships with their teachers. Exposing students to this form of learning has become (note: has, not will become) an essential step toward preparation for college and beyond. I look forward to bringing you news about St. Luke’s evolving online and blended learning philosophy, and will continue to share relevant articles such as those below:

New York Times: Universities Offer Free Online Classes

Yale: Faculty Embraces Expanded Online Plan

New York Times: MOOCs

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