Crossing the Chasm: Investing in the Early Stage Scaling of Personalized Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Crossing the Chasm: Investing in the Early Stage Scaling of Personalized Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Title: Crossing the Chasm: Investing in the Early Stage Scaling of Personalized Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Author: Stemm-Calderon, Zoe
Citation: Stemm-Calderon, Zoe. 2015. Crossing the Chasm: Investing in the Early Stage Scaling of Personalized Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: Dramatic shifts in our economy, the nature of learning, and the demographics of students are placing increasing demands on US K-12 school systems to be more responsive to students and our rapidly changing society. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has played a catalytic role in funding an emerging movement of teachers and school and system leaders who are redesigning their learning environments to personalize learning for students. Early results in these pioneering schools are promising and there is growing interest in personalized learning across the education sector. During my residency, I was charged with co-leading a working group to design a strategy for investing in the early stage scaling of personalized learning.
The personalized learning movement is not the first to aim at transforming how we “do school.” Drawing on innovation theory and research on the history of movements to innovate the pattern of schooling, I argue that these movements struggle to transform the US K-12 education system because foundations (and the education entrepreneurs they invest in) underestimate the perils of diffusion and do not capitalize on the early adoption phase to prepare for broader scale. I then describe my work to form and launch the working group and our collective efforts to define an investment strategy. From my analysis of our results and my actions I offer three key implications for BMGF and others who would influence transformations in the pattern of schooling through philanthropy or other “outside-in” reform avenues. First, successfully developing an instructional innovation for scale requires investing to codify dominant designs for instruction and organizational infrastructure and building the enabling conditions for wider adoption, including a social movement of education stakeholders to demand transformation. Second, foundations transitioning from incubating an innovation to investing in broader scale pass through a key period of integration that demands thoughtful change management as the organization develops new collective innovation and learning capabilities. Third, I offer reflections on effective education leadership in this era of rapid transition from the industrial era to the information age.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16645020
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