A Message from our President & Executive Director Jane Swift:
As an education non-profit, it is almost required that I pen a back-to-school blog post. And given the extraordinary transformation and changes that have occurred at LearnLaunch since our 8th annual in-person Conference in January, this is long overdue. As an advocacy organization for education equity and excellence operating in the edtech world, it might surprise some to learn that when the coronavirus hit early this year nearly all our capacity-building and programmatic options were delivered in a face-to-face format. That reality forced us, similar to many of our stakeholders, to completely change our operating model.
Let’s start with one obvious truth: Change is hard. And change accelerated by and forced by an international pandemic has caused enormous stress, anxiety, and loss for many.
Fortunately for LearnLaunch, our founders, supporters, innovators, funders, and many stakeholders had laid the groundwork for a successful pivot of our operations. Operating at the intersection of education policy, practice, and innovation has been critical to our nimble response to this crisis and will continue to be central to our future successes.
In the last six months, we have defined ourselves as uniquely suited to quickly identify the urgent needs of education leaders in a crisis. We have responded by efficiently drawing on the numerous resources available to us through the ecosystem that has been nurtured over the last many years. The massive disruption underway at every level of the education continuum coupled with the extraordinary demand for education-based solutions will no doubt present only one sure thing: change will continue to dominate our sector.
LearnLaunch is well-positioned to weather and thrive in the coming months despite the challenges we will no doubt face. Because, while our programmatic and strategic shift is a work in progress based on the context we face and the speed with which the world is changing we are tethered by guiding principles:
- We believe that an equitable education system is a fundamental requirement for society;
- We assert that the core of high-quality education is excellent teaching & engaged learning which can be facilitated by technology tools when appropriately used and understood;
- We know that innovation has increased the pace of change and will require education leaders who are able to embrace uncertainty and lead through adversity;
- We embrace diverse perspectives because we have seen the power of the thinking that emerges when many voices are listened to and heard.
We have also taken a number of steps to better position us to not just survive this pandemic, but to emerge as a leader in our sector. A few of those critical steps:
- Michael Horn, amongst the most knowledgeable education thinkers in the United States on disruption and innovation in education, has assumed the role of Chair of the Board, fully completing our transition from a founder-led organization, and we are in the midst of recruiting several new board members to lead us in this new era;
- We have launched a K-12 virtual learning tool, the Building Blocks (™) Framework, and have demonstrated success with contracts with both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Rhode Island. We are in talks with several other states to support their efforts to provide high-quality, engaging remote & hybrid learning experiences for their students using our Framework. Our solution has been endorsed by ISTE’s “Learning Keeps Going” National Task Force, and we have secured a strategic partnership with professional development provider, Eduscape, to expand the impact of this solution to a national audience;
- We have adapted our K-12 Massachusetts Personalized Learning Educator Consortium (MAPLE), a public-private partnership with DESE, to share best practices with other districts in this moment of COVID Chaos, and reset our programming for SY20/21 to best support our network of district and school leaders as they work through the crisis and lay the foundation to reimagine student-centered, equitable and deeper learning;
- Working with MIT-JWEL we successfully completed a pilot experiential learning summer program working with edtech companies and college juniors & seniors seeking to better develop & define their remote work competencies;
We have set goals for the upcoming school year which are equally audacious but made with an understanding of the extraordinary needs of learners & education institutions in this crisis. We hold a privileged position of trust as a convener with the ability to bring together policy leaders, practitioners, and innovators to tackle these challenges.
I will be updating our many important stakeholder groups regularly through this blog as well as other communication vehicles to stay connected and seek your partnership and support as we continue to work together to ensure that our education system emerges from this crisis stronger than ever.