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Excellence in Education Strategy Session: A Customized Education: Extreme Choices through Digital Learning

• Dave Myslinski

Students in an increasing number of states are benefiting from expanded choice in education: Course Choice. This next step for educational choice allows students to customize their educational experiences, providing students options down to the individual course level.

Two leading states in the midst of implementation, Utah, represented by Sen. Howard Stephenson and Louisiana, represented by Assistant Superintendent Ken Bradford, discussed their individual approaches. Susan Patrick with iNACOL (International Association of K-12 Online Learning) and Michael Horn with the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation rounded out the panel, sharing their national expertise.

“Disruptive innovations focus on simplicity, affordability, accessibility, and decentralization,” explains Michael Horn.

These innovations don’t provide an incremental progression, but instead a dramatic shift to the traditional way process. Personal computers disrupted mainframes. Amazon and iTunes disrupted brick-and-mortar stores. And course choice is disrupting the thought that formal learning can only occurring inside a classroom.

Students in Louisiana, Utah, and multiple other states are now free to customize their own learning experience, allowing students to tailor their education to their own learning style, interests, and schedule. In many states, this isn’t the future of education: this is happening now.

To bring the policy discussion closer to home, audience members were treated to a special guest, hearing the perspective of a current full-time online high school student. Formerly, as a public and private school student, she was constrained by the rigid schedule and course offerings available to her.

By moving to a full-time virtual school, she now enjoys educational flexibility that was not available to her before. Now, she can travel as needed, learning anywhere. Personalized courses provided to her allow her to advance at her own speed, regardless of time of day or even time of year—she was able to successfully complete an algebra 2 course in one month over this past summer.

Learning at any time, any pace, any path, and any place is becoming a reality.


About the author

Dave Myslinski

Dave Myslinski serves as a Communications Specialist for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and was the State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now, focusing on digital education policies across all 50 states. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the Education Task Force Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he focused on digital learning, K-12 education reform, and higher education policies on the state level. He is a coauthor of the Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform for ALEC, and currently serves on its Education Task Force Executive Committee and is a Vice-Chair of the Digital Learning Subcommittee. Dave has previously worked on state policies relating to health care and telecommunications. He is a graduate of Rutgers University. Contact Dave at