From maverick to mainstream:
Takeaways from the 2017 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference

By: and

October 16, 2017

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In its sixth year, the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference (BPLC) hosted by the Highlander Institute, The Learning Accelerator, and the Christensen Institute brought together more than a thousand educators from around the country to share, discuss, and define innovative education practices. In tandem, we hosted an invitation-only Summit on March 31, 2017—a day-long conversation among leading district, school, and classroom implementers from across the country. Nearly 70 schools and districts applied to attend the Summit through the Christensen Institute’s online Blended Learning Universe (BLU) by creating or updating a profile detailing their current blended-learning efforts. From there, we selected applicants who were demonstrating leadership across key focus areas such as competency-based learning, school redesign and taking strategies to scale, among others. Ultimately, a diverse group of more than 100 education leaders converged in Providence, Rhode Island, to share their best strategies for refining and enriching innovative practices of student-centered teaching and learning.

Going into the event, our hope was to allow these leaders to both share and learn from one another. As organizers, we also wanted to capture their most profound lessons to inform others who are pursuing blended and personalized learning. As Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner stated in his opening remarks, the challenge facing today’s education system is taking this work from “maverick to mainstream.”

Throughout the day, conversations focused on forwarding so-called maverick as well as mainstream aims—that is, taking existing innovative approaches to the next level and taking innovative approaches to scale. In this report, we share seven key tips that emerged from leading innovators.

For information on attending the 2018 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference, visit

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Jenny White is the K-12 education research associate as well as content manager of the Blended Learning Universe, a comprehensive online hub filled with blended-learning resources and a dynamic directory of blended-learning programs worldwide.

Julia is the director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute. Her work aims to educate policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres. Be sure to check out her book, "Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students' Networks"