Making A Difference

Using Technology to Tailor Learning to Each Child

Heather Staker (MBA 2001)

Heather Staker (MBA 2001) is president of Ready to Blend, a firm that works with K-12 teachers to combine educational technology solutions with classroom instruction to accelerate children’s ability to learn and achieve. In this interview, she explains the principles behind blended learning and how it can lead to a more personalized educational experience for students.

“When I was at HBS, I was inspired by the idea of using innovation that has been successful with other organizations and taking it to the social sector. So many of our schools are just stuck because we fail to innovate, we fail to think of ways to solve our most vexing problems in the social sector, and so we keep doing the same thing again and again, even if it’s not working.

“I founded Ready to Blend a couple of years ago because there is a real need for schools to think about how to personalize learning for each student. I’ve seen that so many students struggle; they are unmotivated, they’re bored, they’re somehow left behind, or in other ways they’re just not thriving in our current K-12 system.

So, a couple of years ago, working with Michael Horn, I wrote the book Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, and from there launched a training and consulting company to help educators and leaders think through how to use the best of innovation to create a new student experience.

“We’re in the 21st century now and there are tools that can help schools personalize learning for each student, help students get the right lesson at the right time in the right way, and really just rethink the design. In a blended environment, typically you’d see personalized learning combined with offline, deeper learning experiences. It really is an invitation to redesign how we think about schooling.

“Right now, we’re cramming so much technology into schools and we’re not really leveraging the power that the internet can bring to connect students to all sorts of experiences and to invite us to redesign how a typical classroom and class day feels. Ready to Blend is working worldwide to help educators and leaders make that transition and do it in a way that brings more joy to the classroom and more joy for students.”

(Published January 2017)

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