RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning

RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning

The International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) have teamed up to produce a toolkit for district, charter, and school leaders to use in the very early stages of conceptualizing and designing next generation learning programs, initiatives, and schools. RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning focuses on promising practices in blended, competency-based, and personalized learning. Learn more in an iNACOL Special Edition webinar this Thursday, June 13, 3pm ET. Participation is free. Register here

Through the toolkit, educators about to embark on the adventure of innovation are encouraged to explore other innovative models like those blogged about here at BlendMyLearning.  Once a team makes the decision that the traditional way of doing school isn’t working as well as it should for their students, looking to other models offers inspiration and a better understanding of what’s possible. The toolkit therefore encourages readers to connect to communities of practitioners who are engaged in this work—through BlendMyLearning and other websites, blogs, and social media outlets. Educators can then use the toolkit to tackle each planning and design issue—with the needs of students in mind—through sets of guiding questions along with key publications, websites, and tools.

While putting together this toolkit, we recognized that tools and resources have just started to emerge within this field. Because they are new, they haven’t had the time to prove their effectiveness, they are often not created by practitioners, and they tend to offer pie-in-the-sky views of what a dream program should be.

Here at BlendMyLearning, though, practitioners are sharing their day-to-day struggles, celebrating their day-to-day wins, and offering others a realistic picture of the good, the bad, and the ugly of implementing blended, competency-based, and personalized learning. We think the toolkit will help educators better understand what questions to ask and how to think through issues that they will encounter (whether they are the good, the bad, or the ugly). We want to know: do the questions in the toolkit get at the most-pressing practical issues that those already working in blended learning schools needed to consider? Our goal is to streamline the planning and design process so that the next generation of blended, competency-based, and personalized learning educators can get a leg up on designing learning experiences that are the most likely to effectively and efficiently improve outcomes for their students.

So what will you find in RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning? Here’s an overview of the work it supports:


Understand Next Generation Learning

The toolkit shares examples of next generation learning, through reports like Making Mastery Work from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, profiles like those of NGLC’s breakthrough school model grantees, and collections like the Blended Learning Universe from the Christensen Institute and the videos of blended schools compiled on Blend My Learning.


Lead the Transition

The toolkit prompts educators to spend time preparing how they will manage the transition to a new way of learning, to break away from what currently is and start moving towards what could be. Putting students first, these decisions should consider each student’s learning needs. In addition to thinking critically about the policy barriers that limit change as well as the opportunities for innovation, the toolkit asks questions to better understand the perspectives of different stakeholders and how they will be involved in the planning process.


Design the Learning

Educators can use the toolkit to identify their own goals for student success and then explore four areas of next generation learning design: Academic, Financial, Staffing, and Technology and Infrastructure. Each of these sections encourage creatively while remaining practical about the development or purchase of content, delivery of content, provision of student support, definitions of staff roles, establishment of professional development, design of funding models, allocation of resources, and the delivery of technical support.


Engage Others

The last piece of advice found in the toolkit is about setting up a space for adults to learn and develop professionally. In addition to encouraging a professional learning community (PLC), this section also helps educators organize an event for the planning team and other stakeholders to get together and start addressing all those questions and begin finding the answers that have the best possibility of working for them, their community, and their students.


To learn more:


  • Kathryn Kennedy of iNACOL
  • Kristen Vogt of NGLC

Written by Kristen Vogt

Kristen Vogt

Kristen is the Knowledge Management Officer at Next Generation Learning Challenges.


  1. RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Gen Learning via @NextGenLC and @NACOL

  2. RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning via @blndmylearning

  3. RETHINK: Planning and Designing for K-12 Next Generation Learning

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