Collaborating to Explore How Digital Learning can Improve Orange County K12 Education

The following is a March 12th e-mail sent to OCPS Chairman Sublette, with a cc: to Superintendent Jenkins.  The e-mail is an invitation to OCPS to collaborate with the Be G.R.E.A.T. Academy on exploring digital learning ideas to improve K12 education for OC schoolchildren.

Some of the e-mail’s formatting cannot be viewed in this blog posting.  To view the e-mail with its original format, click HERE.

Start of e-mail ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Chairman Sublette:
(cc: to Superintendent Jenkins)

World-class higher education institutions such as MIT recognize that digital learning is opening up extraordinary new educational possibilities.  MIT President Rafael Reif writes:

advances in online teaching technologies are opening up extraordinary new possibilities,  we must seize the opportunity to reimagine what we do and how we do it. …  we are in the midst of an educational revolution.

As forward-thinking Orange County parents, we should similarly explore how digital learning can create new K12 learning possibilities that can better prepare Orange County school children for the Global Creative Economy.  However these learning possibilities are emergent ideas in their early development with unproven promise; there’s risk in exploring them.

I believe innovative charter schools can be innovation collaborators with Orange County Public Schools to explore how these emerging learning possibilities can best serve Orange County school children – see my Slideshare presentation HERE:

Other Southwest Orlando parents and I are exploring the opportunity to start an innovative charter school, the Be G.R.E.A.T. (Globally Ready to Excel and Achieve Today) Academy, to help Grades 6-12 students succeed in the global creative economy.

As an MIT alumnus who is involved with the MIT Alumni Association’s K12 STEM initiatives, I plan to introduce innovative digital learning initiatives to help students transform and accelerate their learning above and beyond what is possible within the traditional classroom setting.  These initiatives can include:

Though many view charter schools and public schools as competing with each other, I hope that OCPS will be open to starting an innovation conversation with our charter school (planned Fall 2014 opening) on how we can collaborate to explore and implement digital learning possibilities.

Your 2011 State of the Schools address referenced a laboratory school.  The Florida legislature has filed a bill that will allow for “district innovation schools”.

As the risk-tolerant innovator, as indicated in the “diffusion of innovations” diagram (see attached), our Be G.R.E.A.T. Academy charter school can explore whether a digital learning idea will work.  OCPS can observe us to gain deeper and greater insights into digital learning possibilities, and the implementation challenges.

By learning how to mitigate the implementation challenges and risks inherent in being an innovator, the “OCPS innovation school” (= laboratory school) can then be an early adopter to explore whether the same education idea will scale across multiple OCPS schools.

I hope we can start a conversation on how we can build a partnership so that our multiple innovation initiatives can benefit Orange County school children.

Schedules and circumstances permitting, let’s meet to explore on how OCPS and an innovative charter school can collaborate to explore and implement digital learning initiatives that can enrich Orange County student learning.

I plan to attend the March 28th 9 am charter school meeting (Conference Room A, ELC Lobby).  Perhaps we can meet afterwards. Many thanks!

All the best,
Mark Lee

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