The Race to the Top contest is a $4.35 billion contest by the U.S. Department of Education funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the Stimulus. The contest invites applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students in their schools.
Education technology and blended learning advocate Michael Horn points out that:
“It is the first time such a significant tranche of federal dollars will be used expressly to fund blended learning. Past federal initiatives have, in essence, cast technology as tools to be integrated into traditional classrooms—e-textbooks, broadband, and one-to-one laptops, for example. The emphasis has been on the tools rather than the learning.”
“…this Race to the Top competition does have the potential to reset American schools’ relationship with technology by encouraging a transformation from a one-size-fits-all schooling model to one that can customize affordably for each student’s unique learning needs.”
(Read about the concept of blended learning on Technapex and more about Michael Horn.)
Horn is the cofounder of Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to innovation in the social sector. He heads up the nonprofit’s education sector and leads a team of policymakers to encourage technological innovation in the classroom. He is the author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns”
Innosight Institute’s Meg Evans published a guide to personalizing learning for Race to the Top-District applicants, which lays out a few key points about what a good application should include. Among these are examples of what Horn describes as “disruptive” innovation; the kind of world-shifting moves that schools ought to consider if they truly want to personalize learning for their students. Applications are due October 30, and winners will be announced sometime in December.