The next step in personalized learning

There are a lot of ways to talk about the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) and its goals, but at its core it’s about one thing: Making it easier for teachers to deliver personalized learning to students with the help of technology. The SLC is working to make the disconnected instructional technology systems currently embedded in every school and every district’s backend data infrastructure work better together to provide actionable classroom intelligence that is easy for teachers to access and use.

To that end, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation are funding the SLC as an ambitious, open-source technology initiative. Several states and districts are part of this large-scale collaboration, and this week the SLC releases the technology in its Alpha phase.

Reaching this milestone, which you can read about in detail on my SLC blog, is a major step forward in making it possible to blend the best of teacher- and technology-delivered instruction to dramatically accelerate student achievement and deliver personalized learning on a sustainable scale.

Personalized Learning: Interoperability Is Key to Functionality

A central tenant of our approach is to improve data integration and application interoperability so that existing and new instructional technologies work better together. Over the years, different data systems and applications have proliferated throughout our schools and districts. But the rich learning data generated every day by teachers and students typically goes uncollected or is captured in many disparate systems and locked up tight. Moreover, different applications and systems often create data in different formats. Even when the data is liberated, it can be difficult for educators to make sense of it. One goal of the SLC is to make this instructional data more valuable to teachers by supporting a common language among the many vendors and developers selected by districts and schools to support their data and instructional needs.

To move toward that goal, the SLC is adopting both the Ed-Fi specification and the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) to address student-level data needs. These components are distinct and complementary. The Ed-Fi solution is a powerful data format for exchanging student data among information systems, which is its function in the SLC’s shared technology services, and we could not have reached this point without the significant efforts of the Michael and & Susan Dell Foundation to develop this specification. CEDS is a foundational data model, and the SLC’s data store is on track to be the first fully functioning data store centered on the CEDS data model.

The outcome of this partnership, along with our collaboration with others including, Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA), Council of Chief State School Officers, National Governors Association and Common Core State Standards is the ability to offer our pilot schools a way to:

  • Allow disparate student data systems (for instance, student information systems (SIS), grade book applications, curriculum and lesson planning systems, and benchmark testing and reporting systems) to work in concert to create a picture of the whole student
  • Ensure educators have easy access to simple-to-use, data-rich instructional tools
  • Support innovation among the vendors and developers who become part of the SLC ecosystem

Everyone working on the SLC is optimistic that we can unleash the talent and creativity of teachers and application developers to help make personalized learning a reality every day for students. Learn more about how we are all striving for this ambitious goal at