As access to education technology – high-speed Internet connectivity, lower-cost computers, and online learning programs – has increased over the past five years in K-12 schools in the United States, the debate over technology’s place in the classroom, specifically its ability to usher in a new era of education personalized to meet the needs of every individual student, has raged on. Much of the narrative perpetuated by technology companies around educational reform has centered on an idea that outside, tech-driven “disruption” is needed in order for real transformation. However, many school districts have found more success moving towards personalized learning when the disruption is homegrown, scaled carefully, involves all community stakeholders, and is driven by pedagogy, not technology. This thesis examines in depth one school district, Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin, and their success in creating personalized learning experiences for their students, as a case study for how other districts might approach homegrown disruptions of their own.
Frankie Schembri was raised on snowy winters and long books in Ottawa, Canada. She began her undergraduate education at MIT in Mechanical Engineering, but realized that she was most excited about explaining what she was learning to her friends and family. Frankie switched to MIT’s undergraduate Science Writing program, where she was able to combine her background in STEM with her love of communication, and graduated with a B.S. in June 2017.
Frankie has worked in an MIT Mechanical Engineering lab, as a communications assistant at the Harvard Kennedy School (reporting on the intersection of technology and democracy), and as an intern at a public relations firm writing content for software companies. Most recently, she was a communications fellow at MIT’s Office of Sustainability, where she reported on efforts to use the university as a living laboratory by testing researchers’ work on MIT campus operations.
Frankie is fascinated by the power of information technology and computing to shape modern life and hopes to report on these subjects in way that is inclusive to all, arming the public with the information necessary to navigate an increasingly technology-driven world. She is electrified by the opportunity to continue strengthening her skills at MIT. Recreationally, Frankie enjoys meeting cats, eating doughnuts, searching for the freshest memes, and watching baseball.
Thesis: The Promise and Perils of Personalized Learning: Keeping Students at the Center of the Ed Tech Revolution