Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute Blog

Research, Policy, Innovation & Networks

Conference Recap: 2017 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference

posted by MVLRI, on April 07, 2017

MVLRI staff had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference, hosted by The Highlander Institute, The Christensen Institute and The Learning Accelerator. Over the course of two days, attendees and presenters connected on a number of different topics in the realm of blended and personalized learning, including curriculum design, systems-wide change, professional development, and equity and inclusion. Presented below are one-sentence takeaways from each of the sessions that MVLRI staff participated in, as well as a list of all of the presenters and facilitators involved. Thank you to everyone who helped make the conference a valuable opportunity to learn and network.


  • It is crucial to allow individuals and programs to “walk” before they can “run.”

  • Leaders should focus on implementing common-sense policy and strive to unify conversations when implementing change.

  • Second-order change, or change that is irreversible, is largely dependent on culture.

  • Effective professional development involves defining competencies, reflecting and assessing on strengths and gaps, offering personalized supports, and aligning systems and processes to expectations.

  • Two challenges posed in research of personalized and blended learning: definitions and variables.

  • You don’t have to be a “capital R Researcher” to do impactful research.

  • This event is not a technology conference, but an “instructional models conference.”

  • Developing partnerships with higher ed institutions, nearby schools and districts, philanthropic organizations, and local businesses can be key to building a personalized learning initiative.

  • Personalization of instruction should enable the growth of cultural identities and voices with the goal of achieving equity.


Shawn Rubin, The Highlander Institute - @ShawnCRubin

S. Dallas Dance, Baltimore County Public Schools - @DDance_BCPS

James Murray, Waukesha STEM Academy - @edUcation_frwd

LeeAndra Khan, Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School - @leeandrakhan

Ken Wagner, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education - @RIDeptEd

Sally Schultz, Hanford Dole Elementary School - @Ms_Schultz5th

Juliana Finegan, The Learning Accelerator - @JulianaFinegan

Rafael Gallardo, Puget Sound Educational Service District - @blendlearntech

Ethan Scherer, Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research - @HarvardCEPR

Tricia Maas, Center on Reinventing Public Education - @triciamaas

Heather Staker, Ready to Blend - @hstaker

Michele Williams-George, University of California, Davis

Julia Freeland Fisher, The Clayton Christensen Institute - @juliaffreeland

Ashley Bryan, Dallas Independent School District - @ashleyannbryan

Kristen Watkins, Dallas Independent School District - @k10watkins

Lucas Orwig, Nellie Mae Education Foundation - @blackcapped

Britt Neuhaus, Overdeck Family Foundation - @brittchy

Mike Baur, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation - @mbaur

Caroline Hill, DC Equity Lab - @CarolineIHill

Michelle Molitor, Fellowship for Race & Equity in Education - @MichelleMolitor