As mentioned in my previous post 16 Great NonProfits Working to Support EdTech in Schools, prior to my role as the Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, I spent 14 years in a public school in Pennsylvania as an elementary and middle school teacher, middle school and elementary principal, and district level technology director. During my time as a public school employee, I’d occasionally hear about educational organizations that were working to support schools in some capacity. When I got connected on social media, my lens was expanded and I became aware of more organizations, as well as their supporting tools and resources. Upon moving to my role in Washington, DC, and working on a national level, I was quickly in awe at the sheer number of organizations that were working to support schools, K-12, and the many dynamic resources that they offered free to schools, many of which I had no idea were available when I needed them most.
This is the second post in a short series meant to highlight the great work of many nonprofit organizations that are working diligently to support students’ learning on a daily basis. Many of the organizations, which are listed alphabetically, have free tools, research, case studies, and resources that can seamlessly be utilized and implemented at the district and school levels. All of these organizations are shifting the needle and rocking professional learning nationwide.
(Note: There are many other organizations doing great work in these areas that could easily be included in the list below. Many of these organizations will be highlighted for other aspects of work they are doing in subsequent posts in the series.)
1. Breakout EDU*
Breakout EDU creates ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) facilitate the growth of teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. An excellent fit for classroom experiences and professional learning gatherings, each Breakout EDU kit comes with a collection of lockable boxes, an invisible ink pen and UV flashlight, timers, keys, and other “diversion hardware” that can be used to play the Breakout challenges available from the store. This resource is sure to jumpstart your next professional learning or team building activity!
*Although not technically a nonprofit, Breakout EDU provides an open source (free) list for teams to build their own kit, and thus is included in this post.
CUE is a nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1978 with a goal to inspire innovative learners in all disciplines from preschool through college. With an active current membership of thousands of educational professionals, CUE supports many regional affiliates and learning networks. CUE is the largest organization of its type on the west coast and one of the largest in the United States. CUE holds a myriad of educational technology related events including its Fall and National Conference, STEAMpunk Mobile Labs, and “CUE Rock Star” Camps, all of which are fun, innovative models of professional learning that occur throughout the United States.
3. EdCamp Foundation
A nonprofit created by educators to creative innovative professional learning experiences for educators, the organization’s charge is to help educators discover new ways of learning and teaching, reigniting their passion in the classroom and passing it on to students across the globe. The grassroots effort is supported by hundreds of free EdCamps organized around the world each year and is undoubtedly one of the most robust, fast moving, game changing forms of professional learning worldwide.
4. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
ISTE is a nonprofit membership organization that serves educators interested in utilizing technology in education. With a membership of over 100,000 education stakeholders, and affiliates throughout the world, ISTE provides a myriad of educational technology resources, as well as professional learning tools, services, and one of the largest conferences in the world. ISTE is also well known for some of the most dynamic, robust educational technology related learning opportunities that occur year round and in various formats. The organization released the “ISTE Standards for Learning, Teaching, and Leading in the Digital Age”, a widely adopted set of standards for technology infused learning. Standards have been released for students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and computer science educators.
5. Organization: Learning Forward
Learning Forward is an organization devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional learning with a goal of helping members leverage the power of professional learning to affect positive and lasting change. The organization helps district leaders plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning within their schools. Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning outline the characteristics of professional learning that leads to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results and is a leader in the field in linking professional learning to improved student achievement.
6. One-to-One Institute (OTO) & Project Red
The One-to-One Institute grew out of Michigan’s successful, statewide one-to-one initiative, Freedom to Learn and is a national nonprofit committed to igniting 21st century education through the implementation of one-to-one technology in K-12 settings. The mission of OTO is to transform education by personalizing learning through universal, uninterrupted access to technology so that students can take ownership of their learning and maximize their potential. OTO offers Project Red, one of the most comprehensive research studies and set of implementation guidelines ever assembled, free for school districts.
7. The Learning Accelerator (TLA)
Founded on the premise that each child in America must have an effective, equitable, and engaging education that is personalized, informed by data, and mastery-based, the goal of The Learning Accelerator is to be a catalyst to transform K-12 education through blended learning on a national scale. The organization provides research, models, tools, and professional learning support for districts to implement and scale a blended approach to teaching and learning. TLA recently released it’s “Blended & Personalized Learning Practices At Work”.
Whether the professional learning in your district is thriving and operating on all cylinders, or has stalled from frustration and hour counting, these seven organizations are sure to help ignite passion through high quality professional learning that’s relevant and personal.
So, what post is next? Tune in next week where I’ll highlight great work going on to help engage the community.
All for the kids we serve,