If it’s making waves in edtech, it’s going to be on the agenda at Across Boundaries. The annual Across Boundaries conference is a meeting of over 1,500 educators, education administrators, entrepreneurs, investors, education companies, and technology innovators who are interested in driving innovation to transform learning and increase achievement using digital technologies.

Thursday, February 1

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Registration Open

More Information TBA

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Opening Keynote - What’s Next in Education?

Keynote: Tony Miller, Co-founder, Senior Partner & Chief Operating Officer, The Vistria Group, former Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer for U.S. Department of Education

Tony Miller will provide a thoughtful view of the challenges and opportunities that confront the education sector, which is 9% of the US GDP and a rapidly growing sector globally.  Is it on the track to accelerate learning for all? How must the sector evolve to address the demands of an ever more digital and global economy? Will education dynamism grow? Tony will touch on the potential for greater public and private sector investment collaboration, as well as share the pitfalls from the perspective of a former regulator.

10:30 am – 11:15 am

Concurrent Sessions
Asian Edtech Investment: Where Has It Gone and Where Will it Go?

Room: 310
Moderator: Vincent Fung, Partner, IBIS Capital
Panelists: Christina Bai, Co-Founder, Collemark LLC, Ian Hoorneman, Fazheng Group; Seiichi Hosotani, Executive Advisor, Edulab Inc; Rajat Gupta, Investment Advisor, Invictus Capital

South Asia, China and Japan are  a major markets for education services, not only because of  their size, but because of high family spending on supplementary educational services. Asian investors are also placing bets in the U.S. market. They represent major new sources of capital for edtech investment. Those in the edtech market should understand what is driving their interest.

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify the largest Asian investors
  • Examine what these investors have invested in  the U.S. and globally
  • Dissect the motivations of  these  investors and how they may differ – or be the same as – U.S. investors
How Can You Help Higher Ed Faculty Adopt Digital Instructional Technologies

Room: 300
Moderator: George Moore, CTO, Cengage
Panelists: Liya Escalera, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Bunker Hill Community College; Suha Ballout, Professor, UMass Boston College of Nursing and Health Science; Tracy Schroeder, VP Information Services and Technology, Boston University

Early adopter faculty will adopt new digital technologies on their own, but most faculty require support: from centers of teaching and learning, academic technologists, dedicated release time, graduate students, etc. This panel will address the variety of ways that colleges and universities are providing support to faculty adoption of digital learning technologies to meet individual or institutional objectives. 

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the variety of approaches colleges and universities are employing to support faculty adoption
  • Obtain tips and techniques for their own colleges or universities



Pathways for Workforce Development

Room: 311
Moderator: Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future
Panelists: Jessica Rothenberg- Aalami, CEO, Cell Ed, JD LaRock, President and CEO, Commonwealth Corporation; Matt Sigelman, CEO, Burning Glass Technologies

Policy makers and businesses are eager to see the education system develop talent to meet the needs of business, and students are eager to invest in education that will result in a successful career. Increasingly, attention has focused on introducing students to career pathways, either in functional areas – like marketing, finance or sales or operations, in an industry – like information technology, or in life sciences. Parents, students, and the entire education industry should understand the newest trends in skilling up the workforce.  

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore how career/technical education programs, high school innovation pathways, workforce investment boards and connections to community colleges are preparing students for today’s workforce
  • Address how employers are building pipelines of new employees via internships and other methods to up-skill their teams
  • Examine the possibilities for digital offerings in workforce development efforts
WORKSHOP: Using Design Thinking to Solve Pressing Problems in Education

Room: 312
Special Details: This session will run from 10:30 am – 12:15 pm
Presenters: Lisa Bonacci, Engagement Manager of Sandbox ColLABorative, Southern New Hampshire University; Steve Brown, Deputy Director of Sandbox ColLABorative, Southern New Hampshire University

Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that allows individuals to understand challenges and find useful solutions. In education, it can be used to develop solutions that drive student learning and success. This workshop is intended for those that are new to the design thinking process, as well as those who might want to refresh their understanding.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the core principles of design thinking
  • Examine how to use design thinking to find solutions to pressing problems – like those in schools and other learning environments
  • Gain experience in using specific design thinking tools

Room: 309
Moderator: Mike Baur, Program Manager, Data Driven Education, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
Panelists: Stephen Laster, Chief Digital Officer, McGraw Hill Education, Erin Mote, Executive Director, InnovateEDU, John Myers, CEO, Edsby; Mark Rankovic, CEO, Certica Solutions

Schools now have many choices of tech tools to enrich and accelerate learning. As teachers use more tech, they want the data from one tool to be shared and combined with other tools to get a full picture of the student, their achievement, and host of other factors. Not all districts have a data warehouse, and teachers don’t want to do this with Excel on Sunday afternoons! This session will examine the efforts that districts and providers are making to make data interoperability work for teachers and education leaders.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore how leading edge districts are demanding compliance from providers with EdFi and IMS standards
  • Examine how standards bodies such as IMS and EdFi are approaching the issue and what’s next for these two
  • Hear about Project Unicorn and the resource and tools available to school districts
  • Receive a recommended action plan for schools and districts looking to have application interoperability


Instructional Design and Accessibility: Defining Quality in the Online Classroom

Room: 302/304/306
– Jennifer Rafferty, Director of the Institute, Online Learning Consortium
– Elisabeth Stucklen, Instructional Designer, Online Learning Consortium

With the increasing popularity of online learning in education and training today, instructional designers are seeking ways to make learning more engaging without having to sacrifice a quality learning experience. What are the latest insights in creating a high-quality online course? What tools are available to instructional designers to evaluate and improve course design?

Join Online Learning Consortium staff, Jennifer Rafferty and Elisabeth Stucklen in this session that will feature an overview and discussion of the OSCQR Course Design Review Scorecard, a course-level quality rubric that can be used by instructional designers and faculty for reviewing and improving the design and accessibility of online courses.  Based on best practices, this rubric is composed of 50 standards that can be used to identify and target aspects of online courses for improvement.

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify key challenges that instructional designers face when developing and evaluating courses in the online environment
  • Review OSCQR quality standards that assist instructional designers in course quality reviews and continuous improvement processes.
The Edtech Entrepreneur's Journey

Room: 313
Speaker: Matthew Pittinsky, CEO, Parchment

Matthew Pittinsky is a legendary edtech innovator, Matt cofounded Blackboard and served as CEO, co- CEO and executive chair of Blackboard from 1997 to 2008.  When he completed  his Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from Columbia University, Matt moved to Phoenix to become an assistant professor of sociology at Arizona State University in January 2009.  Since 2011, he has led Parchment to become a leader in the storage and transfer of academic credentials.

In this session, participants will:

  • Gain insight into the 20 years of evolution of education technology and edtech markets
  • Understand the key drivers of success  and key challenges for edtech entrepreneurs
  • Look into the future of education and edtech

11:30 am – 12:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions
CEOs and the Future of Edtech

Room: 302/304/306
Moderator: Seth Reynolds, Managing Director, Parthenon-EY
Panelists: Mark Rankovic, CEO, Certica Solutions; Matt Gross, CEO, Newsela; Jack Lynch, CEO, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Rob Waldron, CEO, Curriculum Associates

Edtech CEOs share their view of the future of education technology. For more and more students and teachers, technology in the classroom is a fact of life and taking an on-line course is increasingly usual. What are the next problems to solve and where is edtech heading?

Participants in this session will

  • Address key trends in edtech adoption
  • Lay out critical challenges for further growth


Outsourcing Online Programs: The Shape of Things to Come or a Bad Moon Rising?

Room: 309
Moderator:Howard Lurie, Principal Analyst, Online and Continuing Education, Eduventures
Panelists: Michael Croft, CEO, Volute, Greg O’Brien, COO, Noodle; Furqan Nazeeri, Partner, Extension Engine; Elliott Visconsi, Chief Academic Digital Officer, Notre Dame University

Outsourced Program Management (OPM) hit the news in 2017, when Purdue acquired Kaplan University, turning Kaplan into an OPM provider. The reality is that many educational institutions are looking for new enrollments, but worry they don’t have the expertise to launch new online or blended programs. OPM companies have answered this call. They have focussed on marketing to enroll new students and managing the back end tech and business process infrastructure, while colleges focus on faculty creating and delivering the program. So, more colleges are exploring what it means to work with these groups.

In this session, participants will:

  • Dissect the experience of a university when they launch a new program with an OPM
  • Explore the requirements for success in OPM
  • Examine how OPM providers are adding more capabilities to their platforms
  • Identify ways to address pre-conditions of labor force and state regulations for pursuing this approach
Edtech in the Enterprise

Room: 310
Moderator: Mark Miller, Managing Partner, Good Harbor Partners
Panelists: MJ Ryan, Director, Workforce Development, Partners Health Care; Frank Britt, CEO, Penn Foster; Matt Greenfield, Managing Partner, Rethink Education

Companies are looking to up-skill their workforces. Implementing organization skills and learning development programs can look like an expensive investment, especially if employee tenure is short. Is Edtech primed to bring solutions to organizations so that they can affordably integrate it with career pathways within their enterprises?

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine what companies are seeing as some of the hottest platforms for continued employee skill development
  • Assess how entrepreneurs are bringing digital approaches to solve skill building challenges
  • Evaluate how entrepreneurs are bringing these solutions at appropriate cost points
  • Identify what types of products are still needed in skilling up today’s workforce
WORKSHOP: Using Design Thinking to Solve Pressing Problems in Education (Cont'd)

Room: 312
Special Details: This session will run from 10:30 am – 12:15 pm
Presenters: Lisa Bonacci, Engagement Manager of Sandbox ColLABorative, Southern New Hampshire University; Steve Brown, Deputy Director of Sandbox ColLABorative, Southern New Hampshire University

Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that allows individuals to understand challenges and find useful solutions. In education, it can be used to develop solutions that drive student learning and success. This workshop is intended for those that are new to the design thinking process, as well as those who might want to refresh their understanding.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the core principles of design thinking
  • Examine how to use design thinking to find solutions to pressing problems – like those in schools and other learning environments
  • Gain experience in using specific design thinking tools
What is the Research Saying about Personalized Learning?

Room: 311
Aubrey Francisco, Chief Research Officer, Digital Promise
Panelists: Philip Oreopoulos, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Kristen Dicerbo, Vice President of Education Research, Pearson

Edtech has grown, and research is now being completed to give insight to its effectiveness and impact.  A comprehensive literature review by Philip Oreopoulos and colleagues highlights the impact of personalizing learning and of “behavioral nudges.” Rand has completed the second survey of personalized learning schools, and Pearson and Digital Promise have other studies underway.

In this session, participants will:

  • Gain an understanding of the current landscape of research on personalizing learning with edtech
  • Explore the large scale random control trial results that exist
  • Assess the big questions that remain related to the use of edtech
  • Examine how ‘lighter weight’ approaches can be employed
Transforming School Culture

Room: 300
Moderator: William Bryan, Vice President of Leadership and Organization Development, Center for Secondary School Redesign
Panelists:  Dave Lash, Principal, Dave Lash and Company; Danielle Harvey, Chief Technology Officer, Pittsfield New Hampshire Schools; Sujata Bhatt, Managing Partner, Innovation, Boston Public Schools

Educational technology adoption and other school innovation does not work unless culture change is also happening. To advance, experiments require iteration and sometimes fail. Thoughtful and effective change management can galvanize stakeholders and lead to successful next generation learning.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine the elements of culture change
  • Explore approaches for understanding and sustaining change
  • Outline tips on how they have successfully managed change in their own environments.
Pitch Competition Part 1

Room: 313

Over 30 early stage companies – representing K-12, higher ed, and continuing ed – will have tried to get to this point. Now, the final group of early stage edtech companies who made the cut after winning at the quarter-final LearnLaunch Pitch Competitions, will compete to pitch in-front of the entire conference on Friday, February 3rd. During these semi-final sessions, judges will narrow it down to the final two companies who will have the chance to become the 2017 LearnLaunch Pitch Competition Winner.

Participating Judges – Vinit Sukhija, Associate, LearnCapital; Michelle Dervan, Principal, Rethink Education; Martin Keck, Managing Director, Needham and Company; George Moore, CTO, Cengage, Parul Singh, Principal, Founder Collective

Moderator: Claire Wadlington, Founder and Managing Principal, Clear Path

Companies- MentorWorks, uConnect; Riipen, Presenter.; ExamPAL




12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Lunch, Startup Village and International Cafe

Lunch will be provided in the Boylston Hallway. Seating is available in 301, 303 (Curriculum Associates Cafe), and 305/307 (International Cafe) areas.

Startup Village – Sponsored by Navitas this area will feature over 30 of the most innovative edtech startup companies that are looking to grow.

International Cafe – Over 30 edtech companies from Canada, Israel and the Netherlands, who are entering the US market are joining the conference. During a special session during lunch participants have the opportunity to explore ‘International Trends and Unmet Needs Abroad’. The goal of this session is to inform conference participants on international edtech landscape, identifying similarities and difference in edtech across Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands.

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

Keynote- How Should You Be Using Learning Science Today?

Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Vice President for Open Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

We’ve all heard that cognitive science is uncovering ways we can learn better. What are the most exciting findings, and how can educators and entrepreneurs incorporate them into instruction and software today? During this session, an expert in both the research and the application of these advances, will explore whether there really are different learning styles, and how to avoid getting lost in the forest of working memory, long term memory, the role of practice for automaticity, spaced repetition, the importance of retrieval, and other findings. .

2:30 pm – 3:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Innovative Finance: Pay for Success Comes to Education

Room: 300
Moderator:  Navjeet Bal, General Counsel, Social Finance
Panelists: Jerry Rubin, President and CEO, Jewish Vocational Services, Bob Giannino, CEO, uAspire; Annie Knickman Plancher, Director, Social Finance

Social Impact Bonds and “Pay for Success” are possible ways to bring more private investment to bear on public problems. The goal is to fund promising approaches to obtaining better social outcomes that the government might not fund on its own, or increase funding to make more significant progress on an issue, sooner. The government contracts for specific outcomes and the risk or reward of achieving higher or lower results than expected is shifted to investors. The first “pay for success” contracts in adult basic education focused on contextualized English and work skills have been executed by the State of Massachusetts and Jewish Vocational Services for adult education. Pre-K focused projects are in operation in Salt Lake and Chicago, and explorations are underway in the Career and Technical Education space.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine the basics of “pay for success” and social impact bonds as a new vehicle for impact investment
  • Explore the structure of a variety of  “Pay for Success” contracts in the education field
  • Evaluate the tests being undertaken in career and technical education
Connecting Colleges to the Workplace

Room: 310
Moderator: Jeff Dinski, Director, Tyton Partners
Panelists:  Adam Saven, CEO & Co-Founder, PeopleGrove; David Kozhuk, CEO, UConnect; Michelle Bata, Associate Dean and Director of the LEEP Center, Clark University

With parents and students increasingly eyeing what jobs will follow an investment in a college education, colleges are moving to amp up their efforts to connect students with career opportunities.  This session will focus on demonstrating some of the most successful strategies.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore what strategies and platforms colleges are using to engage students earlier in career planning
  • Identify how colleges are expanding the number of internships available to their students
  • Address how colleges are engaging alumni networks to provide work experiences
  • Examine how colleges are changing advising to address the challenge
The State of the Edtech Market

Room: 309
Facilitator: Trace Urdan, Former Managing Director, Credit Suisse, Managing Director, Tyton Partners

Trace Urdan is a research analyst who has been following the education and knowledge industries for more than 10 years. The Wall Street Journal has twice cited him as an all-star analyst. Urdan has held senior education research positions at Robert W. Baird, Signal Hill Capital Group and Wells Fargo. He has a view into the future as well as into its recent upheavals. Urdan will address the key trends driving the major sectors of the education and edtech markets.


In this session, participants will:

  • Examine the role of the tech giants in the edtech market
  • Address the challenge or opportunity of OER for commercial products
  • Reflect on the role of prior leaders and new challengers
  • Assess drivers of past performance and consider future scenarios
  • Identify key opportunities and challenges in the market
Disruptors? Blockchain and Education Credentialing

Room: 302,304,306
Moderator: Christian Catalini, Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management, MIT
Panelists: Phil Long, CiNO, Associate Vice Provost, University of Texas at Austin, Matthew Pittinsky, CEO, Parchment

Suppose your learning credentials could be validated to an employer without your having to make a request to the Registrar of an educational institution. The blockchain will move from keeping track of financial transactions to keeping track of education credentials. So, it is important to understand what experiments are happening today, and what can be learned from them.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine what the start of the art technology thinkers and practitioners are learning about blockchain and credentialing
  • Explore what experiments underway
  • Assess the potential impact these two trends will have on educational institutions and learners
Redesigning High Schools

Room: 312
Andy Calkins, Director, Next Generation Learning Challenges
Panelists: Beth Anderson, CEO and Founder, Phoenix Charter Academy Network; Alec Resnick, Co-founder, Powderhouse Studios, Somerville

Four local high schools recently received $300,000 grants from the Barr Foundation to integrate their schools with community-based learning opportunities. A local high school received a million dollar grant from the  Emerson Collective ‘s XQPrize. New Schools Venture Fund recently announced a second multi-million dollar fund to ignite new school designs. The State of Massachusetts is also supporting more High-Quality College and Career Pathways Initiative, which includes Early College Criteria, Career and Technical Ed, and Innovation Pathways Schools. School leaders will share their vision for their schools and how they are moving forward.

In this session, participants will:

  • Dissect how schools are integrating community-based learning opportunities into their schools
  • Examine how schools planned for and recruited community partners
  • Identify how schools plan to adjust schedules to include learning in the community
  • Understand how to prepare for a redesign grant
  • Receive tips on how to move in this direction
Building Your Edtech Sales Funnel Through Effective Digital Marketing

Room: 311
Moderator: Sheryl Schultz, Founder and President, CabinetM
Panelists: Stefan Kohler, CEO, Kickboard; Craig Palli, CEO, Testive; Karen Miller, CEO, DoInk; 

Building the top of the sales funnel is the most important activity for a startup. Do you have strong processes in place to: drive customers to your website, use metrics effectively and in a timely way, use AdWords, AdRoll, and social media to effectively promote your organization, set up an SEO to ensure maximum effectiveness, create and nurture campaigns, and create a way to convert demos to live opportunities? If not, this session will look in detail at components of digital marketing that can tee up valuable leads to your inside and direct sales folks.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore with experts the concrete steps you can take to build demand
  • Examine the specific approaches that edtech companies use to attract interest and follow up to generate demos and opportunities
Pitch Competition - Part 2

Room: 313

Over 30 early stage companies – representing K-12, higher ed, and continuing ed – will have tried to get to this point. Now, the final group of early stage edtech companies who made the cut after winning at the quarter-final LearnLaunch Pitch Competitions will compete to pitch in-front of the entire conference on Friday, February 3rd. During these semi-final sessions, judges will narrow it down to the final two companies who will have the chance to become the 2017 LearnLaunch Pitch Competition Winner.

Participating Judges – Marissa Lowman, Head of Education Practice, Village Capital; Elizabeth Chou, New Markets Venture Partners, John Duong, Managing Director, Lumina Foundation, Matt Rubins, Venture Partner, LearnLaunch; George Straschnov, Managing Director, Bisk Ventures;

Moderator: Steve Shapiro, CEO, FineTune

Companies Speech Up, Tembo Education, Spotlight, BrainCo, CourseStorm

3:30 pm – 4:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Social Impact Investing

Room: 313
Moderator: Ross Jensen, Director, Education Technology Portfolio, Emerson Collective
Panelists: Esteban Sosnik, General Partner, Reach Capital; John Duong, Managing Director, Lumina Foundation; Jason Palmer, Partner, New Markets Venture Fund; Ashley Beckner, Principal, Education Investments, Omidyar Network

Social impact investing – doing good and doing well – is estimated to have grown substantially over the past five years. Edtech entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to receive investment from these types of investors. Want to understand what is considered an ‘impact investment’, how performance is measured, and how ‘sustainability’ is different from ‘profitability’? Social impact investors will reflect on how they make their decisions.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the role of social impact investors in setting the agenda for investment and in supporting entrepreneurs
  • Address the most common social impact metrics
  • Evaluate the role of prize-based investing and crowd judging (e.g. Solve and XPrize)
  • Provide advice to entrepreneurs seeking social impact funding
Innovative Early Education: Micro-Schools and Beyond

Room: 310
John JH Kim, Senior Lecturer of General Management, Harvard Business School
Panelists: Brian Fitzgerald, Co-Founder, Tinkergarten; Matt Kramer, CEO, Wildflower Schools; Ben Newton, General Manager, Partnerships, Wonderschool

In a world filled with tech, many parents are looking for hands-on and child-focused learning for their children. Education innovators are offering up micro-schools. For example, Wildflower Schools is a national network of storefront Montessori schools – with nine in Massachusetts, and Tinkergarten – based in Northhampton, MA – is now serving over 50,000 students. It’s likely that this growth will continue, because these micro-schools leverage tech to recruit and support their networks.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the rapidly growing arena of micro-schools
  • Examine how technology makes these distributed learning opportunities possible
  • Assess other opportunities for micro-school growth
  • Evaluate how elements of misco-schools might be implementable elsewhere
Private Equity Managers on Edtech Exits

Room: 300
Moderator: Seth Reynolds, Managing Director, Parthenon-EY
Panelists:  Greg Shell, Managing Director, Bain Capital; Will Ethridge, Principal, Ethridge Advisors; Oliver Wreford, Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, Edtech Holdings

With relatively few public companies in the edtech space, many entrepreneurs rely on private equity to scale their businesses. Private equity managers will share what they look for in edtech companies,  including the thresholds of revenue and profit required before they are will make a move.  

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore how private equity companies evaluate edtech companies,
  • Outline the trends and key players in edtech private equity
  • Examine how private equity companies are rolling up new edtech software suites
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Come to Education

Room: 302/304/306
Moderator: George Westerman, Principal Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy and Director, Workplace Learning @ J-WEL
Paul Crockett, CEO, Authess, Andrew Magliozzi, Co-Founder, AdmitHub

The use of AI in education is accelerating. Applications now exist to support grading of essays, to determine trends in classroom behavior patterns to provide interactive AI tutors and to provide chatbots to support the college admissions process. AI underlies many adaptive software products.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore AI applications in use today in education
  • Examine the most promising applications on the near term horizon
  • Evaluate how the largest data sets may yield the best results
  • Imagine future AI applications in education
Superintendent's Hotseat

Room: 311
Steven Hiersche, Superintendent, Beverly Public Schools
Nancy Gustafson, Superintendent, Millis Public Schools, Pia Durkin, Superintendent, New Bedford Public Schools, Kathy Bodie, Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools

What’s a superintendent to do? Data shows that most suburban schools now have adequate wifi and are headed to 1:1 device ratios; while that is not the case in urban and rural schools. Even with devices and wifi, teacher professional development on software is needed to get the most out of the hardware. While there is early evidence that research based courseware can be a powerful tool for student achievement, it costs money. So, superintendents are left to figure out how to address the change management challenges of moving their schools into the digital age, how to address equity issues, and figure out what their key tech initiatives should be in 2018.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine superintendents’ key initiatives and how tech can support them
  • Pinpoint superintendents’ key tech initiatives of the next 1-3 years
  • Identify the key barriers to adoption from the superintendent’s viewpoint
  • Explore how superintendents would like to see schools change in 2-3 years
  • Outline ways superintendents are addressing the digital age, equity issues and what’s next
Lessons from Competency-Based Education

Room: 309
Moderator: Virgel Hammonds, Chief Learning Officer, Knowledgeworks Foundation
Panelists: Brian Fleming, Executive Director, Sandbox Collaborative at SNHU; Adrianne Level, Math Educator and Instructional Leader, Boston Day and Evening Academy; Brian Stack, Principal, Sanborn Regional High School

Boston Day and Evening Academy has pioneered competency based education and is often cited as a model for helping disengaged youth, including those who have been in the juvenile justice system.  More and more schools are attempting to use mastery based and competency based concepts, in which the students are expected to meet learning objectives in order to move forward. This session will examine both whole school models and the application of competency-based concepts in traditional schools, at the high school and college levels.

In this session, participants will:

  • Outline how these schools define and measure competency
  • Assess how scheduling changes to incorporate varying student paths
  • Identify key digital tools that support their work
Liberal Arts Education vs. "The Last Mile"

Room: 312
Moderator:Michelle Weise, Senior Vice President of Workforce Strategy and Chief Innovation Officer, Strada Education
Panelists: Aanand Radia, Managing Director, University Ventures; Kurt Heissenbuttel, Vice President, University Relations, Fidelity Investments

A liberal arts education and a Bachelor of Arts have come to be known as a way to further one’s ability to write, speak and exercise critical thinking. Yet, the numbers of students electing to major in History and English has been on a decline while STEM and business majors, considered more career-oriented, have been on the upswing.The American Association of Colleges and Universities has articulated Six Design Principles for General Education to include proficiency, student agency, integrative learning and problem-based inquiry, equity, “signature work”, and assessment.  

In this session, participants will:

  • Compare Last Mile occupational training approaches which integrate the Six Design Principles
  • Reflect on the tension and relationship between learning content and learning skills
  • Explore if and how edtech has a recipe to support the enduring values of a liberal arts education


4:45 pm – 5:30 pm

Keynote - Human Skills for Digital Natives: A New Understanding of Technology's Influence

Manoush Zomorodi, Author of Bored and Brilliant, Host and Managing Editor of “Note to Self” from WNYC Studios

Though educators, students, parents, and administrators all have different modes and aims for personal technology use in academic and social settings, they all share a growing awareness of the unhealthy, unproductive behaviors that technology often enables: poor sleep, degraded focus, and posts which lack basic human decency, to name a few.

Author and WNYC tech show host Manoush Zomorodi believes that a new approach is needed to guide our learners away from the negative consequences of less mindful technology use. While “digital natives,” as they’re often called, intuitively learn to operate technology, they genuinely need our help to fully understand the nuances of instant, ubiquitous media, manipulative digital products and platforms, and behavioral loops that can affect neurochemistry and decision making.

In this presentation, Manoush Zomorodi will provide an interdisciplinary and innovative vision for improved digital health and literacy education. By incorporating neuroscience, behavioral economics, and purposeful digital design, this framework will illuminate how we can best help students become healthy and informed citizens, online and off.

Manoush Zomorodi is a podcast host, author, and relentless examiner of the modern human condition.

As host of Note to Self, the podcast from WNYC Studios, she unpacks the forces shaping our accelerating world and guides listeners through its challenges. Her book, Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self (St. Martin’s Press; Sept 2017), is based on her 2015 interactive project with tens of thousands of listeners. It empowers the reader to transform their digital anxiety into self-knowledge, autonomy, and action.

Note to Self was named 2017’s Best Tech Podcast by the Academy of Podcasters. Manoush has won numerous awards for her work including four from the New York Press Club. In 2014, the Alliance for Women in Media named her Outstanding Host.

5:30 pm – Onwards

Birds-of-a-Feather Dinner


Keep the conversations going post-conference on Thursday night though “Birds of a Feather” dinners and socials. Choose from a wide variety of topics at local restaurants and bars. Sign up today!


Q1. Who is paying for the dinners/drinks?
A1. Each attendee is responsible to pay for their own purchases. If you’re participating in a dinner, we recommend you bring cash to make splitting the check easier for servers.

Q2. What’s the difference between a dinner and a social?
A2. Dinners will be more intimate sit-down meals with groups up to 8 people. Socials are more casual gatherings at local bars for up to 20 people. Keep an eye out for people with awesome LearnLaunch nametags!

Q3. Who made the reservation?
Q4. Our team at LearnLaunch has made reservations for all dinners to start at 6:15pm (many are under the name Blake). For socials, please look for fellow attendees at the bar.

Q4. There are so many options, how should I chose?
A4. We tried to cover a variety of relevant Edtech themes. We recommend you look at the location and price as each event is at a different local establishment (a few restaurants have mutliple themes). If you’re traveling with a large group, we suggest you split up to network and meet new people! If you have a topic we should add, send us a note at

Q5. I registered but I changed my mind! What should I do?
A5. Have no fear! You can adjust your reservation at our HelpDesk on Thursday afternoon at the event.

Q6. How do I know I won’t be eating alone?
A6. We will cancel dinner reservations that are fewer than 4 people Thursday afternooon and send a note to register for a different dinner option.

Q7. Why are they called “Birds of a Feather” dinners?
A7. Because birds of a feather flock together!

Friday, February 2

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Registration Open

8:30 am – 10:00 am

Keynote - Are You Ready to Truly Transform Learning?

– Tom Rooney, Superintendent, Lindsay Unified School District
– Devin Vodicka, Chief Impact Officer, AltSchool

How do you transform a school district? Devin Vodicka and Tom Rooney set out to answer this question in their own respective work to “shoot for the moon” in Vista Unified School District and Lindsay School Districts in California. Both leaders sought to better serve their high need student populations by envisioning, piloting, and implementing personalized, learner-centered environment for all students. These journeys to make successful, sustainable and long-term transformations were not without challenge, but resulted in the creation of two of the nation’s leading examples of system innovation. During this session, Devin and Tom will explore how they were able to engage in redesign and continuous improvement – pushing the depth of change beyond technical challenges to adaptive challenges, as well as how they involved and engaged key stakeholders along the way.

10:30 am – 11:15 am

Concurrent Sessions
Education Software Decisions

Room: 313
Moderator: Betsy Corcoran, CEO, EdSurge
Panelists: Leo Brehm, CTO, Central Massachusetts Collaborative; Jean Tower, Director of Media and Digital Learning, Needham Public Schools; Tracy Schroeder, Vice President of Information Services and Technology, Boston University

Entrepreneurs are always trying to understand how buying decisions are made in school systems and universities. In this session, educators will each talk about what the decision process for adopting new software  looks like in their organizations.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore what are the key software items buyers will be looking to purchase in 2018
  • Examine who proposes an acquisition and who approves it
  • Outline which standards are required to be supported
  • Identify what purchases are on the horizon for 2019
  • Evaluate what purchases are made centrally and which are decentralized to schools or departments
Student Success Platforms and Student Retention

Room: 311
Moderator: Mukul Kumar, Chief Innovation Officer, Hult International Business School
Panelists: Amanda Gould, Chief Administrative Officer, Bay Path University; Howard Bell, Senior Vice President of Higher Education Student Success, Hobsons; Allan Fisher, Former VP Student Success, Laureate Universities

Colleges and universities equipped with more detailed data on student success and progress are focusing more on intervening to retain students and to support their success. Platforms like EAB, Civitas and Starfish are platforms that these institutions of higher ed are implementing, which can be both a challenge and an opportunity.

In this session, participants will:

  • Evaluate the requirements for success in implementing a student success platform
  • Explore the implementation challenges
  • Examine the range of actions that advisors can now take with students with the support of these platforms
  • Assess the changes in student retention rates that are being seen at adopting colleges
Learning and Training with Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

Room: 310
Moderator: Karen Greenleaf, Head of Content, Google for Education
Panelists: John Stuart, Division Vice President, PTC, Umar Arshad, CEO and Co-Founder, Way Point Labs; Iulian Radu, Post Doctoral Fellow, Harvard University

While sales of virtual reality headsets are not meeting sales expectations, the optimism around augmented reality has been growing. Augmented reality may make truly immersive education more broadly available as it brings the physical and virtual worlds together.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore current applications of augmented and mixed reality in education
  • Outline how to get started in augmented reality from practitioners and platform providers
  • Evaluate the potential for this powerful technology – beyond Pokemon Go – to be used in learning
Social Emotional Learning and Innovation

Room: 302/304/306
Moderator: Tonika Cheek Clayton, Managing Partner, New Schools Venture Fund
Panelist: Sheldon Berman, Superintendent, Andover Public Schools; Owen Stearns, CEO, Excel Academy Charter Schools; Andy Zitoli, Principal, Kennedy Middle School (Natick, MA)

Many new model schools mix a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning together with tech and media rich learning experiences. They may emphasize strong adult and student relationships through advisories and mentoring, and a focus on communicating and maintaining shared culture. In this session school, innovators will talk about how they support social-emotional learning, and we will learn about their favorite tools.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine which tools help students be known to faculty and staff
  • Explore how personal learning plans are successfully implemented
  • Identify tools for educators to support socio-emotional learning and a positive school culture
How Does the Role of the Educator Change in the Digital Classroom

Room: 309
Moderator: Marty Geoghegan, Principal, JT Nichols Middle School

Panelists: Kerry Gallagher, Digital Learning Specialist, St. John’s Prep Danvers, Karene Sean-Hines, Educator, James P. Timilty Middle School; Liz Homan, Administrator of Educational Technology Integration, Waltham Public Schools 

Much is written about “stand and deliver” versus “guide on the side”, and there is much discussion about what this means for teachers as as they journey towards personalizing learning, supported by technology. Hear from teachers who have moved from one mode to the next, understand what their journey has been, and what it means for them and their students.

In this session, participants will:

  • Evaluate how daily and weekly class preparation changes
  • Examine how teachers use data differently and more frequently
  • Address how tech is no substitute for classroom management
  • Explore how grouping and group work changes
  • Identify how individualized resources and homework are made available
Workshop: Getting Your Feet Wet with Augmented Reality

Room: 300
Special Details: 
This session will run from 10:30 am – 12:15 pm
Presenter: Bradley Hesser, Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media, Monroe County Community College

Augmented reality is becoming a great way to capture an audience’s attention, and to assist in learning. To begin the process you must be know what the current applications are, how to discern what elements make up and effective augmented reality solution, and know how to optimize the use of augmented reality to engage your target audience effectively. Most of us aren’t there yet, but this interactive workshop will help you build the skills to make augmented reality a reality.

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify key elements of augmented reality
  • Explore what software is available to create augmented reality designs
  • Develop process to create an augmented reality prototype


11:30 am – 12:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Advice from Entrepreneurs That Grew Beyond $1M-$2M in Annual Sales

Room: 302/304/306
Renee Foster, President, Curriculum Associates 
Panelists: Jordan Meranus, CEO & Co-Founder, Ellevation Education; Aaron Feuer, CEO & Co-Founder, Panorama Education; Elad Shoushan, CEO, Ready4; Lynzi Ziegenhagen, Founder & CEO, Schoolzilla PBC

Breaking through the one million dollar mark in annual sales is a major accomplishment in edtech. Yet, there is much to be learned from edtech entrepreneurs who have broken through the $1 million dollar mark, are keenly focused on breaking $10 million dollar mark, and are still seeing rapid growth.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine key stages of growth – from establishing product-market fit to building repeatable and scalable sales processes
  • Assess key contributors for obtaining financing for growth
  • Dissect how the role of the board and advisory boards can affect growth
  • Define talent strategies for building a winning team
Saving Money by Getting Through College Faster

Room: 309
Chris Gabrieli, Chair, MA Board of Higher Education
Panelists: Emily Paulsen, Executive Director, The College Board; Burck Smith, CEO, StraighterLine, Omari Walker, CEO, New Heights Charter School

With the rising cost of attaining an undergraduate degree, many students are seeking to gain college credits in high school or obtain an undergraduate degree by combining two years in a community college and two years in a four-year college. Advanced placement, international baccalaureate, and college level examination program (CLEP) credentials also can accelerate this path.  

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the range of alternatives which are available to students looking to accelerate their higher ed degree
  • Assess some of the challenges of this path – such as understanding transfer credit requirements
  • Identify digital innovations that are helping students navigate a lower cost path to meaningful degrees or credentialing
Direct to Consumer Revenue Models and Routes to Market for Delivering Learning

Room: 313
Steve Shapiro, CEO, FineTune
Panelists: Chris Twyman,  CEO, BoomWriter; Jon Carson, CEO, CollegeVine; Eduardo Mace, President, 18Moons

Much attention has been given to “freemium” models, some to B2B models, but less to mixed models such as “free to schools, parents pay” like Epic! or BoomWriter, or B2B@C,  with schools paying and providers reaching parents through them.  

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine the models of companies with both direct to consumer and  school partnerships such as Epic! and BoomWriter
  • Discuss the possibilities to apply this model to other education areas
  • Review where paywalls have been built
How Will Teachers Embrace Personalized Learning?

Room: 311
Moderator: Beth Rabbit, CEO, The Learning Accelerator
Panelists: Diana Marcus, Mobile Learning Coach, Burlington Public Schools; Grace Magley, Director of Digital Learning, Natick Public Schools, Sujata Bhatt, Managing Partner, Innovation, Boston Public Schools

Personalizing learning involves a change in teaching practice. Whether it is absorbing student data from new tools, more frequent grouping or gradually relinquishing ownership of their learning to students, personalizing learning is challenging. What do teachers have to say about what support works for them? To what extent are schools and districts focusing on this and providing support? How are Support providers providing teachers’ support in a blended environment?  What is known about what works?

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine how teacher practice is changing in classrooms that are adopting personalized learning including that which is enabled with technology
  • Explore the challenges teachers face and the benefits they gain during periods of redesign, implementation, and improvement
  • Outline which supports teachers value the most to successfully personalize learning
  • Identify how support providers are changing offerings to meet these needs
Libraries Driving Making and Digital Adoption

Room: 310
Moderator: Bill Traint, VP of Strategic Partnerships and Investments, Pearson
Panelists: Laura Gardner, Teacher Librarian, Dartmouth Middle School, Deborah Lang Froggatt, Director of Library Services, Boston Public Schools; John Walsh UX and Access Manager, Dedham Public Library

Libraries are hosting about a third of the makerspaces in schools and communities. How do they identify resources that work for their clients?

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify the latest trends in the Maker’s Movement
  • Explore how making unlocks learning for many groups of students
  • Examine how to integrate making into school curriculum
  • Evaluate how libraries choose which solutions to host
Workshop: Getting Your Feet Wet with Augmented Reality

Room: 300
Special Details: 
This session will run from 10:30 am – 12:15 pm
Presenter: Bradley Hesser, Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media, Monroe County Community College

Augmented reality is becoming a great way to capture an audience’s attention, and to assist in learning. To begin the process you must be know what the current applications are, how to discern what elements make up and effective augmented reality solution, and know how to optimize the use of augmented reality to engage your target audience effectively. Most of us aren’t there yet, but this interactive workshop will help you build the skills to make augmented reality a reality.

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify key elements of augmented reality
  • Explore what software is available to create augmented reality designs
  • Develop process to create an augmented reality prototype


12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Lunch, Startup Village and International Cafe

Lunch will be provided in the Boylston Hallway. Seating is available in 301, 303 (Curriculum Associates Cafe), and 305/307 (International Cafe) areas.

Startup Village – Sponsored by Navitas this area will feature over 30 of the most innovative edtech startup companies that are looking to grow.

International Cafe – Over 30 edtech companies from Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands, who are entering the US market are joining the conference. During a special session during lunch participants have the opportunity to explore ‘Global Success Stories: Scaling up Overseas’, which will focus on stories of entrepreneur that has successfully scaled-up overseas from his/her home country from ”what worked to what went wrong”.

1:15 pm – 2:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Skills Development for Adults Without a Higher Ed Degree

Room: 313
Joseph Fuller, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School
Panelists: Mike Larsson, Founder & President, Match Beyond; Michelle Weise, SVP, Workforce Strategies & Chief Innovation Officer, Strada Education Network; Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer, Penn Foster

Sixty percent of American adults have some college credits, but only 32% have obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. With the compensation premium for a BA so high, it is important to understand what options are available for the large market of adults who seek to advance their learning.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the range of digital options and services that are available for adults with some college but no degree
  • Develop an understanding of the support services that adults might require
  • Evaluate the ways to grow the knowledge of the availability of such programs
Open Educational Resources

Room: 312
Richard Sebastian, Director, OER Initiative, Achieving the Dream
Panelists: Eleni Miltsakaki, CEO & CTO, Choosito!, Andrea Milligan, Director of Center for Teaching, Learning and Innovation, North Shore Community College; Lorie Reilly, Manager, Product Management, Vital Source; Kim Thanos, Founder and CEO, Lumen Learning

For adult learners, the cost of textbooks and materials can be a barrier to continuing their education.  Community colleges are increasingly looking toward Open Education Resources (OER) to reduce the cost of curricular materials. However, they are concerned about how to assure the quality of the materials and that they will be maintained.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine why college leaders see promise in the OER strategy
  • Address the challenge of identifying which resources are high quality
  • Explore the challenge of keeping OER material current
  • Determine whether faculty are adopting this strategy, and if not, why not
What Ever Happened to Freemium?

Room: 309
Moderator: Andrew Joseph, CEO, School by Design
 Edwin Van Rest, CEO, Study Portals, Alix Guerrier, Co-Founder, LearnZillion; Donald McKendrick, Co-Founder, Quill

In an attempt to drive exponential adoption of their tools, many edtech startups offered free versions of their software to teachers, and then followed up with paid premium versions sold to school and district leaders. edModo, Remind, and ClassDojo were companies that explored this type of business model and learned how to convert the free trials to subscriptions or premium offerings.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore how companies are faring as they move from freemium to premium
  • Dissect what the key conversion metrics and characteristics are for freemium models
  • Outline the sales and marketing components that are important in a freemium model
  • Examine how freemium players capture and nurture customers
  • Identify how freemium-based companies decide where a paywall might be placed
Learning Science-Based Education: New Tools in Bringing Cognitive Research into Practice

Room: 302/304/306
Moderator: Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Vice President for Open Learning, MIT
Duncan Lennox, CEO, QStream; Stephanie Carlson, Chief Science Officer, Reflection Sciences, Padraig Nash, Learning Engineer, Cengage

Rapid developments in cognitive science are being incorporated into new edtech products. Products need to address working memory, long term memory,  mind wandering, and how to structure their material into bite-sized chunks.  They need to consider prompting retrieval and use spaced retrieval and interleaved learnings. How do they build schema, and decrease cognitive load? If you are an educator or an entrepreneur, you will want to put the latest findings of cognitive science into practice.

In this session, participants will:

  • Explore the key findings of cognitive science that relate to learning
  • Assess how these findings are being applied in edtech and course development
  • Learn from leaders in the field
  • Be able to address how to apply the concepts in their own classes and products
Looking at a Platform?

Room: 311
Betsy Corcoran, CEO, Edsurge
Panelists: Judy Houle, Executive Director, Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School, Patrick Johnson, Principal, Walsh Middle School (Framingham, MA); Cheryl Lewis, Director of Technology, Duxbury Public Schools

With the variety of platform tools out there, educators are looking to peers and trusted sources for recommendations about platforms and their implementation. Beyond Google Classroom and email, educators are looking at a variety of ways to support individualized learning. Schoology, Canvas, Summit are systems being examined to support project based learning and student portfolios.

In this session, participants will:

  • Understand factors needed to be considered when choosing an LMS
  • Learn about what you have to do to make the LMS work in your environment
  • Explore the landscape of edtech platforms for personalizing learning
  • Discuss where PBL and portfolio tools fit in this landscape
  • Identify what LMSs do and don’t do
Tales of Trialing

Room: 310
Mark Racine, Chief Information Officer, Boston Public Schools
Panelists: Ryan Knight, Managing Director of Information and Analytics, UP Education Network, Karl Rectanus, Co-Founder and CEO, Lea(R)n, Alexandra Resch, Associate Director and Senior Researcher, Mathematica

There are a vast number of edtech options for schools to test, adopt or use in schools. Schools often name choosing among the vast number of edtech options as a critical challenge they face in moving to personalized learning. This session will address the variety of approaches that educators take in selecting products to trial and adopt, and how they attempt to measure student outcomes

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify how educators assess and measure student outcomes when using a new product
  • Examine the Mathematica RCE Coach Tool and the LearnTrials Tool and how schools have used them to evaluate new courseware and approaches
  • Explore how schools have used the approaches of The Learning Assembly for short cycle trials
  • Evaluate how trialing differs in different educational environments
  • Outline how trials are related to the purchase process
Workshop: “Flipping” Your Classroom to Foster Student Ownership Workshop

Room: 300
Special Details: This session will run from 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm
Panelists: Charles Willis, History Teacher and School Redesign and Innovation Team Member, Revere High School

As high schools strive to better prepare students for the rigors of college, teachers must lead the way in transforming education to put students at the center of their learning. “Flipped learning” is one proven approach in which teachers take on collaborative coaching roles with students, introducing concepts to them through assignments at home, which students then practice in class. By guiding them in the exploration of content, skills and critical thinking, this process turns students into active learners rather than passive receivers of information.

In this session, participants will:

  • Examine best practices for creating “flipped” lessons and effectively incorporating technology to enhance student learning
  • Explore practical strategies, routines and methods to use within their classrooms to demonstrate value in the work they ask students to do and explicitly communicate why lessons are relevant to students’ lives and their learning
  • Identify ways to be better equipped for fostering a culture of learning that promotes student ownership in competency-based and personalized environments

Come learn how “flipped learning” empowers students to take ownership of their education in and outside the classroom in an interactive workshop that seeks to explore into how teachers can change their own instruction and cultivate student ownership, what structural changes need to be implemented – such 1:1 device programs, block scheduling and competency-based approaches to education and assessment 0 to create a culture of learning in our classrooms.

2:15 pm – 3:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Refugee Education and Training

Room: 309
Moderator: Sara Monteabaro, Senior Officer, MIT SOLVE

Panelists: Chrystina Russell, Executive Director, SNHU’s Refugee Education Initiative; Jim Daniell, Chief Transformation Officer, NetHope; Julia Dexter, Co-Founder & CMO, Squiggle Park

An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home.  Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.  After basic health and survival needs are met,  education and training are of utmost importance.  What are the requirements and are global offerings enough? The conversation about how to adapt online educational resources and augment them with local talent is happening now. 

Participants in this session will

  • Address the role of global online offerings and the role of local NGOs in delivery
  • Delve into the challenges of measuring and certifying results for refugees
  • Understand what technical infrastructure is required
Credentials: What is Really Happening?

Room: 311
Moderator: Rob Lytle, Managing Director and Co-Head of Education, Parthenon EY
Panelists: Holly Zanville, Senior Advisor for Credentialing and Workforce Development, Lumina Foundation; Nina Huntemann, Director of Education and Research, EdX; Paul Fama, Global Learning Leader, GE

Pressure for stackable certificates continues to grow outside the tech industry, where they have been the norm. Yet, the needs that employers value are always changing. This means that learners seeking to make an investment in their education need to make sure that the certificate or micro-master they are pursuing is worth the investment or a good bet to help their career.

In this session, participants will:

  • Assess how colleges are moving to provide more certificates independent of associates, bachelors and masters degrees
  • Identify if any certificates have emerged as being of value outside of tech certifications
  • Explore how edtech entrepreneurs are getting involved with this trend
Developing the Educators Needed to Change K-12 Education

Room: 310
Moderator: Barbara Treacy, Instructor, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Panelists: Jennifer Kabaker, Director, Educator Micro-Credentials, Digital Promise; Justin Reich, Assistant Professor in Comparative Media Studies and Director, MIT Teaching Systems Lab; Meg Smallidge, Program Manager FUSE MA, Highlander Institute

Superintendents who want to grow to personalized learning in their districts name teacher and principal professional development as the key investment they must make. To scale innovative personalized and blended learning practices, we must provide meaningful in-service and pre-service development opportunities for all educators. Who are the leaders in this field?

In this session, participants will:

  • Learn from organizations who are experimenting with innovative approaches to fill this need
  • Examine which organizations are offering learning opportunities specific to the needs of personalizing learning
  • Explore the various modalities and tools currently available
Computational Thinking: Coding and Robots

Room:  313
Silver McDonald, General Manager, LEGO Education
Panelists: Shaileen Pokress, Computer Science Education Specialist and MassCAN Program Director, EDC ; Emily Relkin, Research Assistant, Tufts University; Bill Cullen, Product Manager, Sphero

Robots are emerging as tools for learning. A number of robotics startups engage learners of all ages in coding. Some robots are being used to provide support services to autistic children and others with special needs. This session will review how robots are being used for learners of varying ages as well as how they are supporting some special populations.

In this session, participants will:

  • Address the increased use of robots as part of coding curriculums
  • Explore special purpose robots focused on students with special needs
  • Examine the use of robots in other education applications
Personalizing Learning: Where Do We Go From Here?

Room: 302/304/306
Michael Horn, Co-founder, Christensen Institute, Chief Strategy Officer, Entangled Ventures

Thought leader Michael Horn, co-founder of the Christensen Institute and author of the best-seller Blended, will summarize key themes and lay out a pathway forward for school districts to personalize learning, not for its own sake, but to advance student learning and success for all students.

In this session, participants will:

  • Evaluate the lingo that masks the real meaning of personalized learning
  • Explore pathways to personalizing learning that will advance learning for all students
  • Introduce ideas to break districts out of viewing personalization as “just another initiative” to something that underpins the design of all schooling with some radical ideas to break communities out of their conventional notions
Higher Ed Learning Innovation

Room: 312
Speakers: TBA

More information coming soon!


3:15 pm – 4:00 pm

Keynote - Innovating in Higher Ed

Keynote: Gloria Cordes Larson, President of Bentley University and Author of PreparedU

Institutions of higher education face both tremendous challenges and tremendous opportunities today. With employers pressing for more prepared graduates, and learners worried about the high cost of post-secondary education, forward-thinking universities and colleges are turning to innovation. They are enriching learning with projects and internships, offering multiple formats for learning, creating new revenue streams by providing offerings for employers and for lifelong learners, experimenting with data systems and programs focusing on retaining students and changing curricula to reflect today’s tech-infused world. In this session, participants will be exposed to the cutting edge experiments of innovative post-secondary leaders, and explore future trends in this sector. \

4:00pm – 6:00 pm

Closing Reception

Join us at the Hynes Convention Center for a post- conference reception from 4:00pm-6:00pm.