Today’s students are different: more diverse, tech savvy and tech dependent, impatient multitaskers. And more. When it comes to learning, their needs extend beyond traditional curricula, the “Three R’s”—reading, writing, and arithmetic—to incorporate new skills, dispositions and literacies. Schools that embrace 21st century learning environments must also transform their concept of learning. See how you can enable and support this new vision of learning by aligning your school’s leadership, culture, teaching, assessment and infrastructure.


  • As you explore this topic you will notice that learning is connected to everything else. Changes to how students are learning must be reflected in how they’re being taught and assessed which, in turn, may place new demands on infrastructure, and changes of this magnitude must be guided by leadership and supported by the school culture.

  • As you build your own roadmap, you will encounter many of these connections, some unique to your own circumstances and goals. Incorporating these connections creates a web of interconnected supports that can strengthen all aspects of your plan.



Students have few opportunities for producing student-directed work, to make choices, and exercise control over appropriate aspects of their learning experiences.


Students have a growing number of opportunities for producing student-directed work, to make choices, and exercise control over appropriate aspects of their learning experiences.


Students have numerous opportunities for producing student-directed work, to make choices, and exercise control over appropriate aspects of their learning experiences.



Learning is personalized—it seeks to address each individual student’s needs, thus providing a learning experience that is effective, efficient and possible for the student to master, and as a result, is motivating.


Learning is rigorous—it challenges students to meet defined, high expectations, while supporting them along the way.


Learning is adaptable—it adapts to students bringing diverse prior knowledge to any learning experience and to students learning at different rates, and can quickly refocus as students’ understanding grows.


Learning is open-ended and inquiry-based—it requires students to be active learners by investigating questions, solving problems and generally mirroring the kinds of inquiry that the real world requires.


Learning is ongoing—it involves students engaging within the four walls of the classroom as much as they do outside the traditional classroom, where they make connections in the real world and benefit from the content and connectedness technology provides.


  • How can students be involved in their own learning?

  • How can student voice be incorporated into the school?

  • What is needed to ensure technology access is ubiquitous and is used for learning?

  • What resources and technological infrastructure are needed?

  • How can community leaders be engaged in connecting learning to the real world?

  • What training do teachers need to leverage information from assessments to benefit learning?

  • What strategies can be employed to incorporate content knowledge, skills and global literacy into learning?

  • What policies should be changed, added or deleted to ensure learning is anywhere/anytime and mobile?

  • How are we preparing the next generation of teachers and leaders at various levels?

  • How are we thinking beyond the school day and year?


Involve students, teachers and the community in the development of learning experiences.

Structure the learning transformation work such that it includes, and relies upon, student voice.

Actively seek the advice of experts, respected leaders and others who have succeeded—from within and outside the organization.

Progress steadily and deliberately, but at a pace that allows you to assess and reflect upon the results—and necessary adjustments.

Listen, Communicate, Listen, Communicate, REPEAT

Keep students at the center of the effort. Regularly question progress and plans in terms of the benefits for students.


  • Structure of the school day and year; classroom structure and space

  • Teacher planning practices and policies

  • Student voice and agency

  • Graduation requirements and credit structure

  • Incentives for professional learning and capacity building

  • Teacher and leader licensure and evaluation; technology director credentialing

  • Student assessment and accountability practices

  • Community engagement policies

  • Funding and purchasing policies

  • Responsible Use Policies/Data Privacy Policies