As one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists, Bill Gates is always interesting to listen to when the topic of “future of education” is in question. This technological pioneer is keen to present new, challenging ideas to the preexisting ones of how we learn, has been helping many areas of Africa become Internet adapted, and sees the students, using more technology to achieve their academic ambitions in the future.
In an interview with CNN Money, on the 8 March, 2013 Gates said that the days of classrooms are numbered. He explains: “If you want the very best lectures if you want the cost efficiency, you have to break down and say, ‘you know, let’s take someone else’s material.’ Online education could potentially mean the best lecturers are available to everyone.
Imagine being privy to top MIT or Oxford academics teaching rural students across the world, where you see a new paradigm of ‘personalized’ education sweeping the world, cutting costs of universities and the problem of classroom congestion. “With this wave of software that’s being created that personalises to the student … there’s real promise here that the kids can go back and engage in a way they couldn’t before,” Gates said.
Gates thinks that the traditional model of physical classrooms and the social engagement of learning can be created online, and to a much more effective degree. By investing a $100m in a new start-up, InBloom, a service that helps teachers tailor lessons to individual students,” Gates is clearly putting his money behind the idea.
inBloom, Inc. is a non-profit organisation that is working to make personalised learning a reality for every U.S. student by improving the effectiveness, variety and affordability of education technology. inBloom has already designed and is now working with the pilot states and districts to roll out a shared technology infrastructure, that will support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and help states and districts provide teachers with access to an array of high-quality educational materials and tools from many providers, all aligned to these standards.
Instructional data will be linked to high-quality and diverse sets of curricular resources, that will enable each student to get what he or she needs most at that particular moment in time. Because the Common Core State Standards create more consistency across states, than ever achieved in the past, inBloom will work the opportunity to create an infrastructure that works better and costs less per state, than what can be accomplished by each state working individually.
inBloom has built and is now working with pilot schools to roll out technologies and services that connect disparate student data and learning content, previously existing in different formats and locations and it didn’t integrate with one another. In this sense the inBloom technology includes the following:
- Data store: Secure data management service, allowing states and districts to bring together, to manage student and school data, and connect it to learning tools used in classrooms.
- APIs: They provide authorised applications and school data systems with access to the Data store.
- Sandbox: Publicly available testing version of the inBloom service, where developers can test new applications with dummy data.
- inBloom Index: Valuable data about learning resources and learning objectives to inBloom-compatible applications.
- Optional starter apps: A handful of apps to get educators, content developers and system administrators get started with inBloom, that includes a basic dashboard and data and content management tools.
inBloom is needed because every student is a separate individual, with unique knowledge, abilities and learning needs. The technology used in most K-12 schools today can makes providing personalized instruction time-consuming and cumbersome for teachers. During this, the school districts and publishers are racing to adapt materials and assessments for the Common Core State Standards, and the new requirements are placing even more demands on teachers. The newly set goals for student learning, propose that the states, districts and the educators need effective tools and resources to ensure students meet those goals. Better and more integrated technology and data analytics can help by creating painting a holistic complete picture of student performance learning and making it easier to find learning materials that match each student’s needs and learning style. Creating the technology infrastructure to do this is often too expensive for most states and school districts and this is where inBloom comes.
inBloom being supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and initially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, representing over 11 million students, in nine states in the US,( Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina. Five states have already selected districts to be part of the pilot testing: Jefferson Country School District, Colorado.; Unit 5 (Normal) and District 87 (Bloomington), Ill.; Everett Public Schools, Mass.; New York City Department of Education, N.Y.; and Guilford County Schools, N.C) all participating in the development and pilot testing of the inBloom technology services ensuring they meet the needs of states, districts, teachers and students. Version 1.0 of the technology is currently being rolled out in these pilot districts, and will appear in the classrooms throughout 2013. The technology will also be available to other states, districts and school networks later in 2013.
inBloom is tackling the enormous challenge of connecting disparate student data from various source systems to the educational, formative assessment and content tools, that make it easier for teachers to create personalized instruction maps for each child. This technology initiative is the result of a large-scale collaboration among states and districts to foster a vibrant community of developers of instructional, formative assessment and content tools, while addressing the challenge of data and content interoperability. inBloom designed to ultimately help teachers provide richer, more engaging and personalized learning experiences, creates new innovation opportunities for a larger and more diverse field of vendors and content creators, and maintain states’ and districts’ ability to tailor the program to their existing systems, preferences and requirements.
iBloom is on an excellent path to making the personalized learning a reality.
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