How is it that the U.S. has a higher education system that is the envy of the world and yet our K-12 system trails most other industrialized nations when it comes to teaching students the skills and knowledge necessary for success in today's world?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's College Ready Education program approaches this problem with an understanding of the larger context of education in our society. "A number of things make a huge difference as to whether kids are successful," points out Vicki Phillips, who heads the foundation's program, "from the poverty that students live in to their health to nutrition."
The Gates Foundation can't tackle every issue in education, Phillips points out, so it looks to co-invest with partners in the same locations "and try to really bolster and leverage each other’s work." Right now there are about 175 schools that the Gates Foundation and other partners have invested in across the country with the goal of creating what Phillips calls "blended learning environments." This means students have access to teachers face-to-face but they also have opportunities to collaborate with their peers and their teachers both in school and out of school.
In other words, the Gates Foundation looks to make an impact by being "very focused in a few areas of education," Phillips says. These areas are teaching, learning and innovation.
So what does this look like?
In the video below, Phillips explains how schools will be rearranged "to use teacher’s time most effectively." Technology will be an enabler, but "the kind of face-to-face opportunity between kids and teachers and kids and peers will still be there." A blended learning environment, Philips says, represents "a lovely blend of both adult and student interactions. And yet when the day ends kids don’t shut their learning down. They actually take their tools with them and continue to learn wherever they are."
Watch the video here:
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